Thanks to the Marquette Maritime Museum, it’s possible to get a firsthand look at the red Marquette Harbor Lighthouse in Marquette, Michigan. The museum opens June 16, with smaller tours and new safety guidelines in place. Tours of the lighthouse, which was built in 1866, are available.

The lighthouse is one of the most historic navigation beacons on Lake Superior and was critical to the development of the Great Lakes iron ore trade.  

Known as the Queen City of Lake Superior, Marquette was once the top shipping port for iron ore on the Great Lakes. The lighthouse was vital for the safe navigation of ships entering Marquette’s harbor.

Fitzgerald exhibit
Edmund Fitzgerald exhibit, Marquette Maritime Museum, Marquette, Mich.
Credit: Marquette Maritime Museum

Marquette Maritime Museum’s visitor experience includes tours of the museum and lighthouse. Each tour takes about an hour.

Hilary Billman, director of the museum, strongly recommends groups take both the museum and lighthouse tours.

The museum is in the old Marquette City Waterworks Building and the tour is self-guided. Exhibits cover topics such as the Life-Saving Service/Coast Guard, shipwrecks (including the Edmund Fitzgerald and Henry B. Smith), ore boats and ore docks, Darter/Dace World War II Memorial, fishing and a collection of Fresnel lenses from local lighthouses.

lighthouse lens
Second order Fresnel lens, Marquette Maritime Museum, Marquette, Mich. Credit: Marquette Maritime Museum

The Lighthouse Tour is guided. Visitors must be able to walk up 45 steps to access the lighthouse. The tour begins at the museum building and includes historic buildings in Lighthouse Point Park and the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse.

“The Lighthouse Tour gives visitors a beautiful and unique view of Marquette and Lake Superior,” Billman said. “The tour includes walking out on the catwalk pathway behind the lighthouse, which is a visitor favorite. A favorite in the museum is our working periscope from a World War II submarine and our Edmund Fitzgerald exhibit.”

The museum offers group rates and staff can organize speakers or a program, depending on the needs of the group. The museum’s season runs from mid-May to mid-October.

“We offer tours during our regular hours,” Billman said. “We can also offer sunrise and evening tours.”

For more information on Marquette Maritime Museum and the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, call 906-226-2006 or go to