Charity Island Lighthouse

November 2022 Feature Shandra Batemon

Off the coast of beautiful and resilient Michigan is a small rural island with a long history of lives saved and lives lost. The small “Big” island of Charity Island is home to a stoically gorgeous lighthouse. The Charity Island Lighthouse was originally built in 1856 with its first light flickering to life in 1857. The lighthouse was positioned off the coast of Michigan in a chain of coastal lighthouses being built in the mid 1800’s as a warning and travel system for seafarers braving the costal shoals and shallows at night.

This guardian of the night did its job well during its career until it was made obsolete in 1939 with the construction of the Gravelly Shoal Lighthouse. This did not put an end to its use, however. Now currently being run by private owners Robert and Karen Wiltse, the Charity Island Lighthouse remains a wonderful tourist attraction that sports breathtaking vistas of the blue Saginaw Bay. The Wiltses keep it open as a bed and breakfast resort for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life in a unique and calming environment.

New USCG Light List

For detailed information on locations of official lights and aids to navigation on the Great Lakes (Vol. 7), check out the new United States Coast Guard Light List from ProStar Publications. (

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