a site on the
National Register of Historic Places

A travesty of the National Historic Preservation Act and the National Register of Historic Places…

In 1966 Congress passed the National Historic Preservation Act. “[The] underlying motivation in passage of the Act was to transform the Federal Government from an agent of indifference, frequently responsible for needless loss of historic resources, to a facilitator, an agent of thoughtful change, and a responsible steward for future generations.

-From the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (www.achp.gov)

In 1966, the National Historic Preservation Act required that each state establish a State Historic Preservation Office [SHPO]. SHPO’s “main function is to provide technical assistance to local communities in their efforts to identify, evaluate, designate, and protect Michigan’s historic resources.”

-From Michigan’s State Historic Preservation Office webpage (www.michigan.gov/hal)


Whitefish Point Light Station 1958

Photo by Mrs. Edward Mace, widow of E.B. Mace, U.S. Coast Guard Master Chief of the Whitefish Point Light Station

The National Historic Preservation Act authorized the establishment of the National Register of Historic Places as “part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect our historic and archaeological resources.”

-From the National Park Service National Register of Historic Places (www.nps.gov/nr)



Whitefish Point Light Station 2007

The Whitefish Point Light Station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places February 28, 1973. “This light, the oldest active on Lake Superior, began operating in 1849, though the present tower was constructed later.”

-From MI State Historic Preservation Office (www.mcgi.state.mi.us/hos/sites)

See the Whitefish Point Light Station registration for the National Register of Historic Places.

See Whitefish Point Light Station Photo Archives




Whitefish Point Light Station circa 1890’s

The commercialization of the Whitefish Point Light Station began in earnest when the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum was constructed in 1986. The unquenchable thirst of GLSHS led to ever expanding development at Whitefish Point.


Additions to the Whitefish Point Light Station since 1947


Then - 1947

Now - 2008

1. This green open space was turned into a paved parking lot in 1987. Blue areas are added paving or concrete.
2. Proposed museum wings.
3. GLSHS constructed their Shipwreck Museum on this spot in 1986.
4. Foot path to boardwalk and hawk platform built by the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory.
5. GLSHS constructed this gift shop/administration building in 1996.
6. This historic building was relocated to this spot in 2000. GLSHS began a commercial bed & breakfast operation in this historic building in 2003 in contrast to their stated intentions for use of this building. (See pages 21 & 52 of the Human Use/Natural Resource Management Plan.)
7. Fiberglass huts - one used by Coast Guard and one used by GLSHS.
8. Historic boat house moved to this site around 2001.
9. Boardwalk and beach deck built with public funds.
10. Historic lookout tower moved to the site around 1998.

The State Historic Preservation Office bastardized the regulations of the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Historic Properties by drawing an imaginary line in the Whitefish Point Light Station sand so that modern development & commercialization overwhelms its natural, scenic, historic, and forested condition. (See page 53 of the Human Use/Natural Resource Management Plan for Whitefish Point.)


Rep. Bart Stupak (MI-D) introduced special legislation that transferred the Whitefish Point Light Station from the United States Coast Guard to the GLSHS 1996. Stupak got the Whitefish Point Light Station transferred to the GLSHS with legislation that included language objected to by Michigan’s State Historic Preservation Office, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and the Michigan Audubon Society. (See Whitefish Point Federal Politics for more about Stupak’s relationship to GLSHS.)

SHPO said this about the Whitefish Point Light Station transfer to GLSHS:

“SHPO has been involved with Whitefish Point since the portion of the property consisting of the historic buildings, then under the ownership of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), was listed on the National Register in 1973. … Despite our ongoing involvement with Whitefish Point and our authority under federal law, SHPO was not invited to be a significant party to early planning and transfer discussions that resulted in the 1992 Comprehensive Plan and the 1996 property transfer legislation. The transfer legislation effectively bypassed the rigorous environmental screening, including a Section 106 review, that is a normal part of the transfer of all federal property. Despite SHPO’s requests for improvements to the transfer legislation, the legislation was passed without adequate and appropriate language to protect the historic resources, providing for construction of museum wings and multipurpose buildings and leaving SHPO with no explicit authority over historic preservation concerns at Whitefish Point.”

-From page 78 of the Human Use/Natural Resource Management Plan for Whitefish Point.

The Michigan Audubon Society sued GLSHS and U.S. Fish & Wildlife in 1999 due to the unchecked overdevelopment and commercialization of the Whitefish Point Light Station. The Human Use/Natural Resource Plan for Whitefish Point is the result of the settlement agreement of that lawsuit.

See Evening News Article, “Plan for Whitefish Point sparks heated discussion.

See Bay Mills News article, “Whitefish Point Management Plan Moves Forward”.


The public has repeatedly been denied its right to participate a full Sec 106 review process that includes removal and/or mitigation of non-historic structures & alterations of historic sites. According to the Human Use/Natural Resource Management Plan for Whitefish Point (see page 70), “some federal agencies” did not consider the preparation of the Management Plan as federal undertaking that would trigger a Section 106 review even though U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service expended its funds and resources on it from 1999 through 2002.

Ongoing irresponsible stewardship of the Whitefish Point Light Station …

The assault on the historical integrity of the Whitefish Point Light Station continues. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, and SHPO were notified of a probable ham radio operation from the Whitefish Point light tower on 11/05/07.

An antenna and wires were mounted on the Whitefish Point light tower 11/03/07. Note the
marked rusting of the light tower in violation of GLSHS’s ongoing agreement with the State of Michigan and SHPO to “maintain and repair the exterior of the Lighthouse and to assume all costs necessary to preserve the historical integrity of the features, materials, appearance, workmanship and environment of the Lighthouse.”









See You Tube video:

Where’s the Light Station Now?


Unfinished Business of Whitefish Point:

1. A full Section 106 review with public participation.

2. Efficient use of buildings for historic displays - eliminate duplicate GLSHS administrative offices at Whitefish Point (main office is at Sault Ste. Marie), eliminate commercial operation in Crews Quarters building. 

3. Testing the groundwater and cleanup of any fecal contaminants and hazardous substances found in the ground water. 

4. Develop a trail system to protect the habitat at Whitefish Point.

5. Habitat restoration and re-vegetation of Whitefish Point.

(See pages 44,53, 55, & 79 of the Human Use/Natural Resource Plan for Whitefish Point.)

See How You can Help - sign petitions for:

1) Section 106 review
2) Revoke GLSHS Federal land patent

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