Marquette Maritime Museum

Marquette Maritime Museum
and Lighthouse

The Museum and Lighthouse are closed for the season.  We will reopen in mid-May 2014.  For assistance during the winter season, please call Carrie at 906-228-7749 ext. 15.


Paint the Lighthouse Red Campaign information can be found under Lighthouses.


Open Daily, 10 AM – 5 PM

Admission Prices

Adult  Museum $5.00
Adult Lighthouse $5.00
Adult Museum AND Lighthouse $9.00

Children 12 and Under Museum $3.00

Children 12 and Under Lighthouse $3.00

Children 12 and Under Museum  AND Lighthouse $5.00

The Maritime Museum is self guided.

Lighthouse Update: We are still in the process of raising money for the Paint the Lighthouse Red Campaign.  However, we have a critical need to replace the roof. That is the first priority in the Campaign.  Scaffolding is up and work on replacing the roof with start soon! The next phase of the project will be repairing exterior brick work and painting the Lighthouse back to a vibrant red!  This phase is scheduled to take place in the spring of 2014.

McClintock-Darter/Dace Memorial

The McClintock Annex focuses on the extraordinary story of the submarines USS DARTER and USS DACE and their role in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, October 23-26 1944. Leyte Gulf, Philippine Island, was the largest sea battle in history and the pivotal point in the defeat of the Japanese Empire. The Annex is named for Captain David McClintock, USN, Retired, a Marquette native and commander of the DARTER during the fierce battle.

Key exhibits in the Annex include:

•A large three-dimension diorama depicting the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Phillipines and the roles of the DARTER and DACE. This is the largest naval battle in history!

•A 40 foot tall World War II working periscope.

•A host of World War II submarine memorabilia

Conning Tower Update!
The conning tower of the USS Darter has been taken down as is at the shop getting sanding and a new coat of paint! We will keep you posted on the progress and let you know when it will return for viewing.

Support the McClintock-Darter/Dace Memorial!  Get your membership today!
Click here to download the membership form



Marquette Maritime Museum

The Marquette Maritime Museum Association began in 1980.  The Museum was opened in the old City Waterworks building in the summer of 1982. The building is a one story, stone, hipped-roof Richardsonian Romanesque style structure with a parapeted front gable and rounded arch windows. It was designed by architect Demetrius Frederick Charlton.

Last year there were approximately 12,000 visitors to the museum. Of those, 30% were local, mostly schoolchildren. 40% were from other parts of Michigan and 20% were from out of state. We had visitors from every state except Hawaii and Rhode Island!

During the summer months, the museum is staffed with two full-time workers. The bulk of the effort is accomplished through volunteers.

Much of the work preparing the museum for the season is done by our Board of Directors. “We work our Board hard…but they are hard workers too!” Nothing we have accomplished could have been done without them.

2012 Board of Directors
Fred Stonehouse – President
Kurt Fosburg – Vice President
Scott Porter – Treasurer
Greg Shirtz – Secretary

Frank Donckers
Carolyn Northey
Lee Rowe
Charles Warner
K. Charles Wright

2012 Advisory Board
Donald Elzinga
Peter Frazier
Gary White

Click on a picture to view a larger version

Marquette's Maritime Month~August 2013

Marquette’s Maritime Month Events
August 2013

    • Boatloads of Fun: Thursday, August 8, 2013, Join the staff of the Marquette Maritime Museum as we take our show on the road over to the U.P. Children’s Museum for their Second Thursday of the Month Series: Boatloads of Fun! Join us for a variety of local history-themed, fun, hands-on activities and crafts. As always, there will be creative snacks, unexpected music and much more! Free with admission or membership. Thursday is also Domino’s Pizza Night at the Children’s  Museum, so order your pizza before 5:30 PM by calling (906) 226-3911 and it will be delivered during the event. The cost is $6 per pizza (includes tip).
    • Evening Lighthouse Tours: August 12th and 22nd at 6:30 PM,  the Maritime Museum will offer special lighthouse tours in the evening.  A costumed tour guide will escort visitors up to the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, where they will learn the history of the lighthouse and stories about the keepers that lived there.  You may even hear a ghost story or two!  Admission is $7.00 for adults and $5.00 for kids 12 and under.  Tour leaves from the Marquette Maritime Museum.  No reservations are required.
    • Themed Saturdays! Every Saturday during the month of August, the Maritime Museum will celebrate a different maritime theme.  August 10th we will explore shipwrecks, August 17th we will be remembering the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, August 24th we will be honoring World War II Submariners and August 31st we will light the way with Great Lakes Lighthouses.   Each Saturday will feature special videos in our newly updated theater and raffles for give-a-ways.  The Maritime Museum is open from 10 AM – 5 PM.  Included with paid admission to the Museum.
    • Kid’s Day at the Maritime Museum!! On Friday, August 30th all kids 12 and under are free!  We will have face painting, balloon swords, treasure hunt, pirate scavenger hunt, craft table, dress up chest and exploration sea chests. Light refreshments will also be served.   The Maritime Museum is open from 10 AM – 5 PM.
    • Meet the Author/Book Signing: On August 24th from Noon – 4 PM.  Author John G. Mansfield, Jr. will be at the Maritime Museum signing his book “Cruisers for Breakfast: War Patrols of the USS Darter and USS Dace.”  This military history book is about two WWII submarines that started the largest naval engagement in history, the Battle of Leyte Gulf.  “Cruisers for Breakfast” includes action, adventure, humor and heartwarming accounts of the brave men who served on the Darter’s four and Dace’s eight war patrols.  This includes Marquette’s very own, Captain David H. McClintock, who was captain of the USS Darter.  Stop in to meet the author, look through a World War II periscope or watch the interactive diorama depicting the Battle of Leyte Gulf.  “Cruisers for Breakfast” will be available for purchase in the Museum’s Gift Shop.
    • Kid’s Coloring Contest!!!  The Maritime Museum !wants you to use your imagination this month and create a piece of art to be entered in our coloring contest!  Click the link to download the rules and submission form. All entries need to be turned in to the Marquette Maritime Museum by 5 PM on Sunday, August 25, 2013.  Winners will be notified by Saturday, August 31, 2013 by telephone. MARITIME MONTH COLORING CONTEST


Other things to do to celebrate Maritime Month!



Lighthouse Lens Collection

The Best Collection of Lighthouse Lenses on the Great Lakes

The Museum has been fortunate in assembling the preeminent collection of lighthouse lenses anywhere in the Great Lakes and certainly on a level with the best in America.

Having a 2nd, 3rd and 4th order “classical” Fresnel lenses in the same exhibit hall concurrently is unheard of!

When the DB24 airport beacon and modern acrylic systems are included, the visitor can see nearly the entire evolution of lighthouse illuminating systems. All that is missing is a Winslow Lewis lamp (and if anyone has a lead on one, please let our staff know!).

4th Order Fresnel Lens - Marquette Breakwall

3rd Order Fresnel Lens - Big Bay Point Lighthouse

2nd Order Fresnel Lens - Stannard Rock Lighthouse


Marquette Harbor Lighthouse

In 2002 the Marquette Maritime Museum signed an agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard for the lease of the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse. The historic lease is for 30-years and includes not only the lighthouse but also approximately 2 1/2 acres of picturesque Lighthouse Point.

The agreement has been in process for several years and marks a crucial step in Museum development. Acquiring the lighthouse is important for a number of reasons.

The Museum will be able to preserve and protect the most historically important building in Marquette. The first lighthouse was built in the city in 1853. The present lighthouse was constructed in 1866 and a second story added in 1909. The lighthouse is the oldest significant structure in the city and more importantly, the lighthouse is one of the most historic navigation beacons on Lake Superior and critical to the development of the Great Lakes iron ore trade. Until the opening of the major Minnesota mines in the 1890s, Marquette was the premier shipping port for iron ore on the Great Lakes and this Marquette beacon was vital for the safe navigation of ships entering Marquette.

The Museum offers tours through the lighthouse and grounds. Because visitors must walk through the grounds of the Coast Guard station to reach the lighthouse, and the constraints of homeland security, Museum guides will escort all tours, a requirement established by the Coast Guard.

The Museum plans to develop the lighthouse as an integral interpretive display as an extension of the main museum building and eventually restoring one floor to reflect a period of the life of the light and ligthtkeepers. The first floor is already partially a museum!

Museum advisory board member Frederick Stonehouse stated, “Acquiring the lighthouse is a tremendous achievement. It is a win – win for everyone. The Coast Guard no longer has to maintain property they don’t need and the people of Marquette, through the Museum, gain access to this most important part of our history.”

Up until 1998, Coast Guard members and their families lived on two floors of the structure, which were intended as a family dwelling for the lightkeepers of an earlier era. The museum board plans to restore the interiors to more accurately reflect the lighthouse history. The Coast Guard will continue to operate the light in the tower as an aid to navigation and an important sentinel for Great Lakes mariners. The lighthouse will continue to guide ships into and out of Marquette Harbor just as it has for 139 years.

More History —

The original lighthouse was built in Marquette in 1853, four years after the city’s 1849 incorporation. No plans or drawing of this lighthouse exist, but it likely resembled very closely the old lighthouse at Copper Harbor, a story and a half building made of local rock with an unattached 35-foot tall rubble tower. The building was specified to be 34 by 20 feet, but since there are no drawings, we do not know if the specifications were actually met. The lantern room was to contain seven 14-inch Lewis lamps which were used until the introduction of the Fresnel lens in the 1850s. The quarters and tower were poorly constructed and were replaced in 1866 with the present lighthouse.

The 1866 lighthouse is not the structure we see today. It has been extensively modified. The 1860s were an intense period of lighthouse construction on the Great Lakes. On Lake Superior alone new lights were built at Whitefish Point, Marquette, Granite Island, Huron Island, Stannard’s Rock (day beacon) and Ontonagon. It is important to realize that lighthouses are not built as unique structures, rather from common plans reflecting the period and purpose, modified only to best fit the local conditions and terrain. The Marquette, Granite Island and Huron Island lights were virtually identical.

The 1866 Marquette Lighthouse was a story and a half brick structure with attached 40-foot square brick tower housing a fourth order Fresnel lens. An identical lens is on display in the Marquette Maritime Museum. The original lens showed an arc of 180 degrees. In 1870 it was increased to 270 degrees.

The keeper and his family lived in the lighthouse. As long as the keeper’s job was only to maintain the light, a single man was able to do the work. However when the light at the end of the breakwater was later added and a two whistle signal system installed at the end of the point, the work was more than one person could do and an assistant keeper was hired. The new man needed housing, a problem solved in 1898 when a barn behind he lighthouse was converted into quarters for the assistant.

In 1909 a more permanent solution was reached by adding a second story to the lighthouse. Later additions to the rear of the building were completed in the 1950s.These additions made the lighthouse unique on the Great Lakes. No other similar lighthouse was so altered. The lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

There has been a persistent myth that the lighthouse was designed after a Spanish monastery. How this crazy idea started is unknown, but it is completely false. As previously stated, the light was built to a design common to many Great Lakes lighthouses, although heavily modified over time.

Over the years the lens has changed several times, from the original Fresnel lens to aero-beacon in the 1930s, to the current Lexan optic in the 1990s. The 1980 era aero-beacon is on display in the Marquette Maritime Museum.

As part of the detailed research the Museum has completed on the lighthouse, it has obtained a complete set of the keeper’s daily logbooks in a CD format. A copy of the CD is on sale in the Museum gift shop for $10.00.

In April 1891, the U.S. Life-Saving Service established a station at Marquette in the area just west of the lighthouse. Under the leadership of the legendary Captain Henry Cleary, the life-savers performed many notable rescues building a reputation of bravery and courage. It is important to realize that although both the Life-Saving Service and Lighthouse Service were agencies of the Treasury Department, they were in no way connected officially or unofficially. The story of the Life-Saving Service is completely separate from that of lighthouses.

Click on a picture to view a larger version

Big Bay Point Lighthouse

The Big Bay Point Lighthouse was built in 1896 as a two story brick duplex building with a 60-foot high square tower. The light is located 105 feet above Lake Superior.  In October 1896, a fixed Third Order Fresnel lens was placed into service.  This lens is now on loan to the Marquette Maritime Museum and is proudly on display in the lens room.

The Big Bay Point Lighthouse is now a successful private Bed and Breakfast.  If you cannot stay over night, the owners do allow visitors on the grounds from 10 AM to 4 PM.  Guided tours of the lighthouse are available on Wednesdays and Sundays at 1 PM and 2 PM.  The cost is $3.00.  The tour starts at the outside of the tower.


Paint the Lighthouse Red Campaign

Paint the Lighthouse Red Campaign

The Marquette Maritime Museum is sponsoring the 2013 “Paint the Lighthouse Red” campaign. We are soliciting money to match dollar for dollar a Save America’s Treasures grant. Marquette’s lighthouse has guarded out harbor since 1853. It is the most historic building in the city and is in need of critical repairs and restoration.

The Marquette Maritime Museum holds an historic lease on the lighthouse with the clear goals of:

  • Replacing the roof
  • Repairing crumbling exterior brick
  • Painting the lighthouse red

There are many ways to donate to the Paint the Lighthouse Red Campaign. All donation sizes are welcome. Below is a list of ways you can help save this historical landmark.

Sticker Donation
When you donate money to the Campaign, you will receive a lighthouse sticker for your door or window, as well as free entrance to the Museum for two. To donate, click the link below to print out the mail-in form.
Click here to download the sticker form

Lighthouse Brick Pathway
The Lighthouse brick pathway will lead visitors to the base of the lighthouse. The engraved brick pathway will celebrate and honor all contributors. There are two sizes of bricks available. The 4″ X 8″ brick is $50.00 and has an engraving space of 10 spaces across and 3 spaces high. The 8″ X 8″ brick is $100.00 and has an engraving space of ten spaces across and five spaces high. Click the link below to print out the mail-in order form for your brick.
Click here to download the brick form

Lighthouse Step
For a donation of $1,000.00, you can have a step in the lighthouse tower which can be used to recognize yourself, a loved one, family or company. There are 44 steps available. Please call the Museum to make those arrangements.

Room Naming
For a donation of $5,000.00, sponsor a room in the lighthouse which can be used to recognize yourself, a loved one, family or company. Five rooms have already been sold and seven rooms are still available. Please call the Maritime Museum to make those arrangements.

Large Donation
For those wishing to make a larger donation, we have a donor packet we can send out to you. Please email or call the Museum to have one sent to you.

If you have any questions about donating, please do not hesitate to give us a call at the Marquette Maritime Museum. We would be happy to talk with you!

Edmund Fitzgerald Shipwreck

On June 8, 1958, the EDMUND FITZGERALD was launched on the River Rouge from the Great Lakes Engineering Works.  With that, the FITZGERALD becomes the largest ship to sail on the Great Lakes, a title she would hold for eleven years.

Captain Ernest McSorley was a veteran mariner with over 40 years of experience on the Great Lakes and oceans.  He had commanded nine ships before taking the helm of the FITZGERALD in 1972.  McSorley had just turned 63 a month and a half before the FITZGERALD would make her last run and was planning to retire at the end of the 1975 shipping season.

On November 9, 1975, the FITZGERALD set out on her final trip from the Northern Railroad Dock No.1 in  Superior, Wisconsin heading for a routine trip to Detroit, Michigan.  During the day, the weather had gotten vicious causing 90 mph winds and 30 foot waves.  The ARTHUR M. ANDERSON was traveling behind the FITZGERALD as they made their way across Lake Superior.

The two ships had kept in contact with each other, reporting various damage the respected vessel obtained.  On November 10th, at 3:30 PM, the FITZGERALD reported some topside damage, missing railings and a list and asked the ANDERSON to stay with him until Whitefish Point.  The ANDERSON agreed.

Sometime before 7:00 PM, the ANDERSON is struck by two huge waves that put water over the pilothouse.  The ANDERSON decided to check in with the FITZGERALD to see how they are fairing.  McSorley reports that they have lost both of their radars and has asked the ANDERSON to help with navigation.  The ANDERSON agrees and proceeds to tell them about an upbound vessel, which the FITZGERALD will clear. The ANDERSON asks one last time how the FITZGERALD is making out with their problems.  The last words to come from the FITZGERALD are “We are holding our own.”

It is at 8:25 PM on Novemer 10, 1975 that the ANDERSON radios the Coast Guard at the Soo to report the FITZGERALD missing.  They report, “I can see no light as before and I don’t have him on radar.  I just hope he didn’t take a nose dive.”  The ANDERSON and other vessels in the area went out in search of the FITZGERALD. Unfortunately the ship was lost with all hands on deck.

The wreck site was found and in May of 1976, the USCG WOODRUSH was the first to send a camera down to see the wreck 530 feet on the lake floor. To this day, the shipwreck is still very much alive.  There are countless books, paintings and even a top song sung by Gordon Lightfoot about the ill fated ship.


Henry B. Smith Shipwreck

Built in 1906 by the American Ship Building Co. in Lorian, OH, the 525 foot HENRY B. SMITH was a steel steamer valued at $338,000.  She was considered to be one of the best steamers on the Great Lakes.

She was captained by James ” Dancing Jimmy” Owen.  He got his nickname from his habit of spending time in local dance halls.  Captain Owen was a master marine with 30 years of experience in both steam and sail.  he had skippered the SMITH since her launch in 1906.

Storm of 1913

The worst storm to ever hit the Great Lakes happened in November 5th – 11th of 1913.  This storm was a result of two weather systems colliding over all of the Great Lakes.

During the storm, the SMITH had arrived in Marquette on November 6, 1913 to load up with 9,500 tons of iron ore.  The storm conditions were causing gale force winds and snow up to two feet in some areas around the Lakes.

After loading up, the SMITH thought they were in the clear and left the dock. Unfortunately, twenty minutes after leaving the dock, gale force winds had over 35 foot waves crashing over her deck, drentching the deckhands struggling to secure the hatches. Instead of turning to the starboard on the usual course, the Captain hauled to the port side, possibly heading for shelter behind the Keweenaw Point to the north.

With the darkness and think white squalls, the SMITH was lost from view and never seen again. To this day, the HENRY B. SMITH has never been found.


The museum operates solely from the money earned from admission and through the support of members, we are always looking for more members. For membership information  please contact the museum staff at
Marquette Maritime Museum
PO Box 1096
Marquette MI 49855
or via e-mail from this site.

Memberships levels
Deckhand (Individual) $20.00
Crew  (Family) $40.00
Flew (Business) $50.00
Deckhand Life   (Individual Life)  $250.00
Crew Life   (Family Life)  $500.00
Captain’s Table   (Patron)  $1,000.00
Admiralty  (Corporate)   $3,000.00

Thank you for your support!

Click Here to Download the Membership Form


Contact Us
Send us a message

For Visitor Information
Call us at 906-226-2006


Come Visit Us!

300 North Lakeshore Boulevard
Marquette, Michigan 49855

Big Bay Point Lighthouse

The Big Bay Point Lighthouse was built in 1896 as a two story brick duplex building with a 60-foot high square tower. The light is located 105 feet above Lake Superior.  In October 1896, a fixed Third Order Fresnel lens was placed into service.  This lens is now on loan to the Marquette Maritime Museum and is proudly on display in the lens room.

The Big Bay Point Lighthouse is now a successful private Bed and Breakfast.  If you cannot stay over night, the owners do allow visitors on the grounds from 10 AM to 4 PM.  Guided tours of the lighthouse are available on Wednesdays and Sundays at 1 PM and 2 PM.  The cost is $3.00.  The tour starts at the outside of the tower.