In 1850 the U.S. Lighthouse Service commissioned a light station to safely guide ships into Tawas Bay. The first light station was built in 1852 at the end of Tawas Point, then known as Ottawa Point. The prisms of its fifth-order Fresnel lens magnified the light, making it visible to mariners up to ten miles away. Keepers lived on-site to maintain the station and refuel the light using lard oil. By 1873 shifting sands had extended the point far from the first light, rendering it ineffective. It was replaced in 1876 with this sixty-seven foot tower, built on a shoal at the point's end and protected by rock-filled timber cribs. A life-saving station was built nearby. The lens was replaced in 1892 with a larger, fourth-order Fresnel lens, which increased the light's range to sixteen miles.
By 1885 kerosene had become the main fuel source for U.S. lighthouses. The Tawas Point Light Station added its small brick fuel storage building in 1898 and a steam-powered fog signal at the end of the point in 1899. In 1921 a two-story "double dwelling" was moved here from the Ecorse Light Station to provide more staff housing. It was demolished in 2002. The light station was electrified in 1935 and turned over to the U.S. Coast Guard four years later. The Coast Guard, which
automated the light in 1953, remained on-site until 1993. The light station was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. The state acquired the light in 2016 and replaced it with a modern optic further out on the point.
Michigan Historical Commission - Michigan History Center
Registered Local Site No. 2294, 2017
This marker is property of the State of Michigan