It’s hard to capture the grandeur and vastness of Saginaw Bay’s beauty during the winter months. In 2015, one bold video producer captured some of the most awesome and intriguing shots of the winter ice of the Upper Thumb. Braving treacherous ice flows we see rare ice shots of the Port Austin Lighthouse, Turnip Rock and Port Austin Harbor transformed to the warm summer magic of Michigan’s Thumb.
Thumbwind gives a tip of the hat to “Lighting in a Bottle Rainy Day Productions” for featuring this Pure Thumb experience. Enjoy.
The Port Austin Reef Lighthouse was put into service in 1878, and its base pier was modified in 1899. The Lighthouse is still operational and is automated. The tower is constructed of yellow brick. It is an octagonal, 60-foot tall tower, with an attached keeper house. The focal plane is 76 feet. It utilized a fourth-order Fresnel lens by Henry Lepaute of Paris and was installed in 1899.
Nearby Turnip Rock
Just off the tip of Michigan in Lake Huron is Turnip Rock. It’s a large turnip-shaped sandstone island. The unique shape is the result of thousands of years of erosion by wind and water of the lake.
Tall trees, moss, and other vegetation have grown at the top of the isolated rock. Nearby is the “thumbnail” (or “tip of the thumb”) outcropping, which is considered the most northern point on the “thumb” of Michigan.
The surrounding land is privately owned by residents of the Pointe Aux Barques community, so visitors can only view the rock by kayak or hike over the frozen lake in the winter.
Touring the Port Austin Reef Lighthouse
From Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend, tours of the Port Austin Reef Lighthouse are held every Saturday. The charter boats that convey groups to the lighthouse may accommodate up to 12 passengers. Because the lighthouse sits out on the open on Lake Huron, the weather is usually the largest obstacle for excursions, with about 40% of trips being canceled due to inclement weather. Private excursions have been conducted until December in rare cases where the weather has cooperated.
Related Port Austin Lighthouse Reading
- Low Water Levels in Great Lakes Threatened Saginaw Bay Marinas – In 2012, dropping water levels in Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan threatened marinas. This video shows the low water level south of Caseville at Beadle Bay Marina. The problem was resolved in 2014 when an extremely cold winter froze over the Great Lakes and checked evaporation.
- Port Austin Reef Lighthouse Official Site
- Michigan Shipwrecks – Find and Dive – Interactive Map – There are an estimated 6,000 sunken ships across all the Great Lakes with about 1,500 Michigan shipwrecks located in local waters. With so many wrecks, it’s no wonder that in 1980 Michigan started establishing Underwater Preserve Sites. The last open water preserve created was the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve in 2000.
- Charity Island Michigan Lighthouse Ruins 1993 – The work of photographer and artist Sue Hardy. This year was also about the time Standish real estate broker Robert Wiltse and a group of investors bought Charity Island Michigan for development. They envisioned 24 exclusive homes across the island. The first phase of the project was to take 60,000 pounds of dynamite to blast out the small harbor.
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