The Jaws of Point Betsie


The Jaws of Point Betsie, photo by Kristina Lishawa Photography

Sweet shot of Michigan’s most photographed lighthouse, the Point Betsie Light just north of Frankfort. Kristina writes:

Ordinarily, someone trying to take a photo from this angle would be pounded mercilessly into the break wall by crashing waves. Lake Michigan granted me an unusually calm window in which to see Point Betsie from a new perspective.

View the photo bigger, follow Kristina Lishawa Photography on Facebook, and view and purchase prints on her website at

Point Betsie Lighthouse: Ice Station Zebra Edition

Point Betsie Lighthouse- Ice Station Zebra Edition

Enchanted Point Betsie, photo by Kristina Lishawa

The winds howl, the snow falls, and the waves crash, yet Betsie stands more beautiful and enchanting than ever. ~Kristina Lishawa

View Kristina’s photo bigger and be sure to follow her at Kristina Lishawa Photography on Facebook!

More about Point Betsie Lighthouse (with another cool winter view) on Michigan in Pictures.

Inside Point Betsie Lighthouse

Point Betsie Lighthouse original Fresnel lens

Point Betsie Lighthouse original Fresnel lens, photo by 22 North Photography

Point Betsie Lighthouse is located on the shore of Lake Michigan just north of Frankfort. It has the distinction of being Michigan’s most photographed lighthouse, and now you can take your photography indoors! The Friends of Point Betsie Lighthouse detail the restoration of the lighthouse and grounds and say:

The first floor is now an exhibition area depicting the history of the lighthouse and the lifesaving operations of the U.S. Lifesaving Service and U.S. Coast Guard at Point Betsie. The rehabilitation process included the installation of all new utility components in the quarters, restoration of the interior walls and floors, and the complete renewal of the tower and lantern. Funding for these projects came from the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program and a distinctive “Save America’s Treasures” award from the Federal Government, along with necessary matching contributions by Point Betsie’s private donors.

One key donation was for the restoration of the Victorian staircase in the assistant keeper’s quarters, a major gift in memory of former Assistant Keeper Henry LaFreniere and his wife Hattie. The stairway provides access to a beautiful two-bedroom vacation apartment, the rent from which is an important source of revenue for the light station. Another important historic contribution consisted of radiators that had previously heated Point Betsie’s adjacent Coast Guard station.

As the interior rehabilitation was moving forward, many gifts of furnishings and other period-appropriate items were donated or loaned to the Friends group for display and use. Other items, especially for the apartment, were carefully selected for purchase. The hopes of many Point Betsie devotees were realized when the beautiful Fourth-order Fresnel lens which provided the station’s sweeping beam for about a century was returned by the Coast Guard for display on the lighthouse’s first floor.

You can head over to the Point Betsie Lighthouse site for hours and also click over to the Michigan in Pictures Facebook for a few more photos of the new displays!

View the photo bigger and see more in the Inside Point Betsie gallery on Facebook.

More Point Betsie on Michigan in Pictures!

The Light at Point Aux Bec Scies

 Pt. Betsie Lighthouse

Pt. Betsie Lighthouse , photo by GLASman1.

Point Betsie Light is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world. The Friends of Point Betsie website notes that the point was originally known by the French as “Point Aux Bec Scies,” meaning “sawed beak point” and that it was was built in 1858 at a cost of $5000. If you want to get a taste of life at a lighthouse, you can rent the Assistant Keeper’s apartment in the summertime.

Check it out bigger and in Mark’s slideshow.

Much more about Point Betsie Lighthouse on Michigan in Pictures!

Point Betsie Lighthouse, in ice and HDR

Point Betsie Lighthouse Winter

Point Betsie Lighthouse, photo by lomeranger.

The Point Betsie Light Station entry at Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light says that although the lighthouse on the southern tip of South Manitou Island was in 1840, it wasn’t until 1853 that the decision was made to construct a lighthouse to mark the passage’s eastern side and to let ships know when to turn south.

The plan for the Point Betsey Light called for a cylindrical single-walled tower constructed of Cream City brick, standing 37 feet in height from the foundation to the top of the ventilator ball. Five concentric brick rings encircling the tower beneath the lantern, each successively larger in diameter than the lower ring, formed a support for the gallery on which an decagonal cast iron lantern was installed. The lantern was outfitted with a white Fourth Order Fresnel lens equipped with bulls eyes, which was rotated around the lamp by a clockwork drive at a precisely monitored speed to impart the station’s characteristic fixed white light with a flash every 90 seconds. By virtue of the tower’s location on the dune, the lens was located at a focal plane of 52 feet above lake level with a range of visibility of ten miles. The small two story dwelling, also of Cream City brick was located on an excavated cellar immediately inshore of the tower, to which it was connected by a short covered passageway. This passageway was outfitted with a cast iron door at the tower end in order to stop the spread of any possible fire between the two structures.

The exact date on which the Point Betsey Light was exhibited has been lost to history. While Lighthouse Board annual reports and Light Lists report the station as being completed in 1858, it was not until February 1, 1859 that David Flury, the first keeper to be assigned to the station, appears in District payroll. Thus, it may well be that while construction was completed in 1858, the Light was not activated until the opening of the 1859 navigation season.

Read on to learn much more about this gorgeous lighthouse including the steps they had to take to unsure that the pounding surf you see here didn’t destroy the light.

Check it out bigger in Jason’s Ice slideshow. And don’t miss this shot Jason took of Point Betsie’s neighbor, the Frankfort Pier Light being BLASTED by the big storm of October 2010!

Friends of Point Betsie note that the light is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the US. See the evidence in the Point Betsie slideshow from the Absolute Michigan pool!

North to Point Betsie … and the Traverse City Film Festival

North to Point Betsie

North to Point Betsie, photo by farlane.

The terms of the multi-year deal I signed with Michigan in Pictures allow me to blog one of my own photos every 23 months or so for the purposes of shameless self promotion.

This photo is one of the images we’re using on the new web site that we launched yesterday. We’ll be doing more photos and video and music. We’re just getting started, but I’m pretty happy with how the site is shaping up!

Speaking of deals and promotion and Michigan in (moving) Pictures, the Traverse City Film Festival is in town this week and we’re covering some Michigan film news including an Absolute Michigan exclusive video with Michigan filmmaker Rich Brauer.

Point Betsie Lighthouse in Winter


P2190088B, photo by jsorbieus.

According to Life Along the Manitou Passage’s page on the Pt. Betsie Light (developed in 2001):

The light was constructed in 1858 at a cost of $3,000 and was called the “Point Aux Bec Scies” lighthouse. This point of land is translated from the French as “sawed beak point”. The original 37 foot tower was replaced by a 100 foot structure in 1880 and houses a Fourth Order Fresnel lens. It was not fully automated until 1983, and is the last manned lighthouse on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan.

Time has marched on and in June of 2004, ownership of the light was transferred to Benzie County and is operated by the Friends of Point Betsie Lighthouse. They have an excellent timeline and a wealth of other information about the lighthouse, including their plans for restoration and some great historical and modern day photo galleries.

As is usually the case, Terry Pepper has an excellent narrative on Point Betsie’s history. Thanks also to Jim for uploading this large enough to be my computer wallpaper! ;)