The oldest lighthouse in the state of Michigan, Fort Gratiot Lighthouse marks the entrance to the St. Clair River from Lake Huron in the southern part of the Thumb. It is still in operation and has been a part of the Coast Guard facilities until its recent handover to Port Huron Museum. The first lighthouse built in 1825 near the first Blue Water Bridge, collapsed into the river during a severe storm due to its poor construction and design. The present-day lighthouse was constructed in 1829 at the north of Fort Gratiot by Lucius Lyon, who went on to become one of Michigan’s first US senators. The new structure made it easy for ships to spot upon their entry to the rapids of St. Clair River.
Fort Gratiot Lighthouse is one of the few active lighthouses that allow visitors to climb its towers. Its 94 iron staircase leads to the gallery, offering an amazing view of the Blue Water Bridge, Point Edward, the mouth of St. Clair River, Lake Huron, and Ontario.
Watching over one of the busiest waterways in the world, the lighthouse is listed on the National Historic Register and is regarded as a historic site by the Michigan Historical Commission. Falling debris and deteriorating brickwork forced the Coast Guard to close the structure to the public in August 2008. After restoration plans were almost shelved, the St. Clair County Parks and Recreation department took over the lighthouse and its grounds in September 2010. Guided tours of the lighthouse were finally resumed in the summer of 2012.
The park grounds are open from 7 AM to 10 PM and admission is free. Depending on the weather, lighthouse tours are open to the public all year round; tickets, however, are sold on a first come, first-served basis and are available at the gift shop.
Fort Gratiot Lighthouse
2802 Omar Street (at the east end of Garfield St.)
Port Huron, MI 48060
The Blue Water River Walk is a mile-long stretch of land along the St. Clair River in Port Huron, Michigan. The River Walk begins south at the mouth of the Black River in St. Clair County and continues to the Seaway Terminal. It is less than a mile downriver from the Blue Water Bridge to Sarnia and the southern end of Lake Huron. The Blue Water River Walk provides a habitat for various native flora to thrive, as the naturalized shoreline is made up of rocks, boulders, and pebbles. Visitors can stroll along the shoreline and enjoy watching freighters, or they can look for migratory birds and turtles while having a picnic.
Local philanthropists Suzanne and James Acheson donated the entire stretch of the shoreline to the Community Foundation of St. Clair County in Christmas 2011. In gratitude, the foundation promised to look for funding to rehabilitate and restore the area. The foundation then turned the shoreline into a public park. The Blue Water River Walk features an outdoor classroom, a pedestrian trail, observation dock, a fishing pier, and a public art space. The foundation’s partners have also received a grant to develop a new wetlands park at the southern end of the River Walk. Guided tours, private parties, and field trips could be arranged with the Friends of the St. Clair River.
Blue Water River Walk
Port Huron, MI
(810) 294-4965 (c/o the Friends of the St. Clair River)
The Thomas Edison Depot Museum is the second satellite facility of the Port Huron Museum. Opened on February 11, 2001, it is within the old Fort Gratiot train depot built in 1858 by the Grand Trunk Railway, where Thomas Edison worked as a news reporter from 1859 to 1863. Trains that used to connect here link Port Huron to Detroit, Point Edward/Sarnia (Ontario), and other destinations, thus, linking Port Huron to the rest of the world.
The exhibits feature Edison’s multifaceted personal history, as he regarded his early years in Port Huron as his most formative. Visitors are invited to turn back time and step into the inventor’s world to retrace his early history until his emergence as an eminent inventor. A railroad baggage car is also featured outside the depot, wherein the mobile chemistry lab and printing shop of the young Edison is recreated. The depot is open all year round except the early part of the year.
Thomas Edison Depot Museum
510 Edison Parkway
Port Huron, MI 48060