Busier times on South Manitou Island

The Steamer Edward Buckley loading logs on the South Manitou main dock

The Steamer Edward Buckley loading logs on the South Manitou main dock

Last week’s Enterprise had an excellent feature on South Manitou Island that begins:

Its location was superb, and it was settled early.But the once excellent location became, with the passage of time, a liability, and residents drifted away. Today, South Manitou Island is part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the days when the island was a hub of regional activity are long gone.

The island’s location athwart the north-south steamship lanes dictated a lighthouse, and one was built in 1839. New lightkeeper’s quarters were built in 1858 and the present 100-foot tower (one of the highest on the Great Lakes) replaced the original light in 1871.

There were more ships on the Great Lakes in the 19th century than the 20th, but they were smaller and more apt to need shelter when Lake Michigan became tempestuous. The island’s crescent shaped harbor was one of the finest natural havens available.

Read the rest of S. Manitou once a hub of activity in the Leelanau Enterprise and check out South Manitou Island at Life Along the Manitou Passage for more of the history of the region.

Photo courtesy Inland Seas Education Assoc. / National Park Service

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