After years of dreaming up tours of the North Manitou Shoal Light, it is finally becoming a reality. Thanks to the North Manitou Light Keepers, visitors can now take a 2 to 3-hour tour from Leland to the deck of the light to explore. Learn more about the tour plans and how you can explore the North Manitou Shoal Light for yourself this summer.

When the North Manitou Light Keepers won the option to acquire the North Manitou Shoal Light (aka the Crib) in 2016, the nonprofit immediately began restoring the 1935 offshore lighthouse with the goal of running tours in five years’ time.
This summer, that dream becomes a reality thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteers who, during the first phase of renovations, removed hazardous materials; cleaned, media blasted, primed and painted the exterior; and replaced all glass in the light’s lantern house.

Dan Oginsky, president of the North Manitou Light Keepers Board of Directors, says with the first phase of renovations completed, the light—located in the shallow waters between the Leelanau Peninsula and North Manitou Island— is now largely protected from the elements and safe to visit.

As of April, when this story was reported, public tours were slated to begin in June and run through Labor Day, but details were not yet finalized. Oginsky said Crib tours would likely run 2–3 hours, departing by boat from Leland. Upon reaching the lighthouse, participants would be able to climb a ladder (with a safety harness) onto the deck of the light and explore.

North Manitou Shoal Light in Leland
More good news—the light keepers were awarded a Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program grant from the State Historic Preservation Office this year, which will allow them to replace old decking and stop water intrusion and structural damage. Oginsky says after the next phase of renovations is completed—restoring the interior with a kitchen, bathrooms and guest room—the goal will be to offer opportunities to stay in the light overnight and on weekends.

Tours will be available first to North Manitou Light Keepers members. Updates and info on how to become a member can be found on the North Manitou Light Keepers website.

Woman taking picture of North Manitou Shoal Light in Leland.

Find this article and more in the June 2021 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine; or subscribe and get Traverse delivered to your door each month.

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner