The Point Iroquois Lighthouse sits along the Whitefish Bay at the eastern most point of Lake Superior. French explorers/colonizers began occupying the area in 1620 and in 1622, there was a notable battle between the Ojibwe and Iroquois for control of the point, which the Iroquois lost. Referencing this battle, the Algonkian name for the point, “Nadouenigoning,” is a portmanteau of the words “Nadone” (Iroquois) and “Akron” (bone). Two hundred years later, in the mid-1800s, copper and iron ore were discovered here, which secured the point’s fate as a strategically important place.
On September 20, 1857, two years after a wooden lighthouse and keepers’ residence were constructed, a guiding light shone over the channel for the first time. This first light illuminated the watery highway for 107 years, during which time the original wood buildings were replaced with brick constructs. It is estimated that this channel, running up St. Mary’s River and connecting goods that traversed the frigid Lake Superior to the hub of Sault Ste. Marie, was at one point the busiest in the world. However, time and technology march on, and by the 1960s this beacon was replaced by an automatic light, stationed nearby at Gros Cap in Ontario. The Point Iroquois Lighthouse, by now an anachronism, earned its place in history and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
HistoriCorps is thrilled to return for another season at one of our most longstanding and popular projects and we hope you’ll join us as we make the necessary improvements to the interior of the lighthouse. Learn more about the Point Iroquois Lighthouse at Hiawatha National Forest’s website.