Lake Superior Theatre - 270 N Lakeshore Blvd. Marquette, MI 49855

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Keepers of The Light

Keepers of the Light

Doing what must be done simply


Courage and duty.  Doing what must be done simply because no one else will do it. Light keepers are men and women who push back the darkness to light the way for others.  Keepers of the Light is the story of three historical lighthouse keepers who found their own light and the courage to help others. Along their journeys they encounter shipwrecks, an Irish wake, Mormons, legends, disguises, and weather. Your guide on this adventure is a great old storyteller from not too long ago, Aunt Jane.
And for a small pint of vanilla ice cream she will tell you all about the keepers of the light and why she honors their spirit with her stories.  This musical and and dramatic celebration of the lighthouses and their keepers is destined to become a LST favorite that never loses its magic.  3 Individuals were chosen to represent the light keepers

Bill McGuire light keeper from Marquette who’s stories show the overall experience of light keepers


The first lighthouse was built in the city in 1853. The present lighthouse was constructed in 1866 and a second story added in 1909. The lighthouse is the oldest significant structure in the city and more importantly, the lighthouse is one of the most historic navigation beacons on Lake Superior and critical to the development of the Great Lakes iron ore trade. Until the opening of the major Minnesota mines in the 1890s, Marquette was the premier shipping port for iron ore on the Great Lakes and this Marquette beacon was vital for the safe navigation of ships entering Marquette.

Harriet Colfax a light keeper from  Michigan City she along with close friend Ann Hartwell together ran their lighthouse.


The building which is now the Old Lighthouse Museum was built in 1858, replacing the 1837 lighthouse built on the same site.  The 1858 structure, with a foundation of Joliet stone and walls of Milwaukee brick, was smaller than the present building, ending just north of the entrance doors and having no porches. Atop that first building was a lantern tower (cupola) housing a Fifth Order Fresnel Lens fueled by sperm oil. The light was visible for 15 miles.  John M. Clarkson, a keeper in the first lighthouse also was keeper of the new building until Miss Harriet Colfax became keeper in 1861.  She served 43 years, retiring in 1904 at age 80.  Miss Colfax was followed by keepers Thomas Armstrong, Philip Sheridan and Walter Donovan.

Elizabeth Williams a light keeper from Beaver Island, Michigan ran her light as well helped with the local church when they were in need after a death of the church leader.


Apparently, though, the first Beaver Island Light Tower was not built well. About seven years after it was finished the tower toppled over and slid downhill from its foundation. A new 46-foot cylindrical yellow brick light tower with a ten-sided lantern room was finished in 1858. The fourth-order Fresnel lens in the tower was the second oldest of its type in the United States (Michigan State Historic Preservation Office) and produced a flashing light 103 feet above water, visible for 18 miles. The light would remain fixed, with a 1.3 second flash every 20 seconds. The original two-story yellow brick keeper’s house, built in 1866, was home to a keeper and an assistant keeper.

Discovered in 1835 by Captain Charles C. Stannard of the vessel John Jacob Astor,


Mighty Lake Superior has depths as much as 1200 feet, but it also has islands that break the surface and some that don’t surface. Stannard Rock is the top of a mountain lurking just below the surface, some 44 miles north of Marquette Michigan. It is often referred to as the loneliest place on the Great Lakes.The shoal extends as much as a quarter of a mile with depths from 30 inches to 20 feet. Discovered in 1835 by Captain Charles C. Stannard of the vessel John Jacob Astor, this danger to shipping was know as Stannard’s Rock for much of its history.


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