This area remains one of the most hazardous areas near the Straits of Mackinac, Michigan. During the last half of the nineteenth century, this light marked the turning point for ships traveling through the Straits of Mackinac and along Lake Michigan's eastern shore between the mainland and the Beaver Islands.
The pier was reconstructed in 1870—a massive undertaking that was hampered by the ironic fact that the viable 'building season' is far shorter than even the normal operating season for the light—and used a "bird cage" lantern, which makes it one of only three built on the Great Lakes. The lantern originally held the first fourth order Fresnel lens on the Great Lakes.
Of particular note were the efforts of Lighthouse keepers who rang bells for many days, trying to ward mariners and their vessels off the shoal as they groped through the smoke from the many fires — 1871 Great Chicago Fire, Peshtigo Fire, Northern Michigan including large tracts around Manistee, Michigan, Western Michigan around Holland and the fire in the Thumb near Port Huron -- that took place beginning October 8, 1871, casting an impenetrable pall across Lake Michigan for the better part of a week. However, many vessels were lost.