Tour the Huron Lightship Museum No. 103 | Incredible Last American Lightship on the Great Lakes in Port Huron Michigan | Cool Ship Tours in the Thumb of Michigan!

Tour the Huron Lightship Museum: No. 103 | Incredible Last American Lightship on the Great Lakes in Port Huron Michigan| Cool Ship Tours in the Thumb of Michigan!

By: Sherry Trautman | | Last updated: March 23, 2023

Are you as obsessed with Michigan ship tours as I am? If so, check out the Huron Lightship Museum, one of four awesome museums to visit during your vacation in the scenic riverside city of Port Huron, Michigan!  It's one of my favorite things to do in Port Huron Michigan or nicknamed, Michigan's Thumbcoast!

  • So, what in the world are lightships?  Let's go learn more about this very important and interesting part of Michigan maritime history! I promise it's cool!

Lightship No. 103 was the last American lightship on the Great Lakes.

By the way, this ship is bigger than you think!  Can you see the grey double doors between the R and O?  Yep, that's where you walk in!

Touring the Huron Lightship Museum in the Michigan Thumb!

WOW! Tour This Incredible Ship!

  • You can tour the Huron Lightship April, May, June, July, August, September and most of October.  Check their website for hours of operation and more information.

There are several very helpful and friendly volunteer docents available to answer questions and give you more information as you tour the ship! Welcome mariners to this extensive collection of artifacts and mariner history! 

Where is the Huron Lightship Museum Located? How to Find the Huron Lightship Museum

The Huron Lightship Museum is located in Pine Grove Park, along the banks of the St. Clair River in Port Huron, MI 48060 

  • Parking is free in the park and there are porta johns in the paved parking area.  There are no restrooms inside the Huron Lightship Museum.

The Huron Lightship is not wheelchair accessible.

What Are Lightships?

Per the Port Huron Museums, Lightships are floating lighthouses! They are anchored in regions where it was too deep, expensive, or impractical to construct a lighthouse.

Lightships, like the Huron Lightship you are about to tour, had a light at the top of a mast and when needed, the ship would sound a fog signal, whistles, fog horn and radio beacon.

Earlier fog horns were powered by steam and later by air compressors. As for the Huron Lightship, she would sound her fog horn signal in 3 second blasts every 30 seconds.  The powerful light can be seen for up to 12 miles in clear weather.

When you finish touring the ship, be sure to take a walk along the paved pathway shown above!  Love views of the St. Clare River from the shoreline!

What is the Huron Lightship Vessel? How is it Connected with the Great Lakes?

Lightship No. 103 was the last American lightship on the Great Lakes.

Per the documentation aboard the ship, the Huron Lightship began service as a relief vessel to replace the other lightships in northern Lake Michigan in 1921.  She was assigned to the Corsica Shoals north of Port Huron from 1935 to 1970.  

When this great ship was decommissioned in 1971, the U.S. Coast Guard presented the vessel to the city of Port Huron.  To this day, she is on shore in a sandy area at scenic Pine Grove Park.  She is open for tours in the spring, summer and early fall months. 

The Huron Lightship is 96 feet long and weighs 312 tons. It is made of riveted steel and has a distinctive red and white paint scheme. The ship is equipped with a 12,000-pound anchor and a 1,000-pound fog bell. 

How Many Lightships are in Michigan?

Lightship No. 103 is the last remaining lightship so be sure to tour this remarkable vessel.

Today, the Huron Lightship is designated as a National Historic Landmark.

Tour the bunkhouse and take a peek out the porthole!  

What Did the Huron Lightship Do?

The Lightship No. 103's job was to guide ships to the buoyed channel that was dredged through Corsica Shoals at the lower end of Lake Huron. 

From the months of April through December, the Lightship was anchored in the lake six miles north of the Blue Water Bridge. The channel was very busy during the commercial shipping season. 

Iron Ore was very important during the war effort so the Huron Lightship was the only Lightship to stay on duty during World War II.  

What Does Iron Ore Pellets Look Like?

Iron Ore Pellets in the form of Taconite looks like this!  The taconite pellets are loaded into ore ships like the Edmond Fitzgerald.  The taconite pellets are brought to the steel mills to be melted down into steel.

What Can You See on The Huron Lightship Museum?

Once aboard the Huron Lightship, visitors can see a vast collection of artifacts, including many model ships. See the galley (kitchen), bunks, crew eating areas as well as a live camera feed of the bottom of the river.  Cool, huh?

What Years Did The Huron Light Ship No. 103 Serve?

The Lightship served from 1935 until 1970.

I took a photo of this photo hung on the wall inside the Huron Lightship Museum.  You can see this mess hall inside the ship. You can also see it in a couple photos above through the galley kitchen. I really enjoy seeing photos from history as I'm touring a ship!

How Many Sailors Were On Board the Huron Lightship?

The Huron Lightship had a crew of ten or eleven men but only six or seven were on duty at all times. The men rotated duty, serving three weeks on, one week off. 

Is the Huron Lightship Museum a National Historic Landmark?

YES! It was dedicated in 1990 as a National Historic Landmark! Definitely worth a Michigan road trip or Michigan vacation!

More Things To Do While Visiting Port Huron Michigan

Tour the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse and be sure to grab our Guide to Port Huron for lots of other fun things to do!

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