Point Betsie: Lightkeeping and Lifesaving on Northeastern Lake Michigan is the compelling story of a key Great Lakes lighthouse whose beam has pierced night skies for 150 years. This rich history recounts the efforts of the U.S. Lighthouse Service, the U.S. Life-Saving Service, and the U.S. Coast Guard on Lake Michigan's wreck-strewn northeastern coast, near the treacherous Manitou Passage.
Much of Point Betsie's story is told in the accounts of dedicated keepers who served there with their families since 1858. Photographs also chronicle the lighthouse's expanding services through the years and the site's transition from early isolation to today's frequently visited attraction on Lake Michigan's northeastern shore. The author devotes equal attention to the courageous lifesaving crews that served mariners off Point Betsie from 1877 to 1937. Keepers' logs bring to life the heroic rescues from wrecks that surfmen discovered while conducting their lonely night-time beach patrols, and document Point Betsie's central but previously untold role in the area's important maritime and social history.
Point Betsie also covers the "laker" fleet's evolution from wooden sailing vessels to massive steamships. Lighthouse operations are detailed, starting with Point Betsie's original oil lamps and then state-of-the-art Fresnel lens, and culminating with the electrically powered, automated beacon that now shines atop this historic and revered tower.
Jonathan P. Hawley is retired from a career in public affairs consulting, Congressional staff service, and university teaching. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Missouri. He serves as Vice President and Historian of the Friends of Point Betsie Lighthouse. He lives in Frankfort, Michigan.