Lighthouse Keeper Program
The DeTour Reef Lighthouse Keeper program is increasingly popular with lighthouse lovers and boat watchers. From the first keeper program in 2005 with 13 volunteer keepers, the program was increased to 38 keepers in 2006 and further expanded to 59 keepers in 2007. Hundreds more have been keepers since. The Society experience with these keepers exceeded our hopes. We had dedicated hard working lighthouse lovers who did everything we asked and more. They made tour visitors feel welcome and comfortable on the light. They scampered up and down the tower steps and the 20 foot vertical access ladders and they took lots of photographs and saw lots of freighters. And they certainly made new friends.
The program provides significant free time away from lighthouse work and tour duties. We are planning tours on only one day of each keeper weekend. Keepers will reside at the lighthouse Friday through Sunday, perform cleaning and light maintenance tasks, greet visitors and assist with tours of the lighthouse, keep a log and prepare their own meals. Keepers must be in good physical condition, capable of making multiple trips up and down the vertical 20-foot pier ladders and to the top of the lighthouse.
The DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society’s Keeper’s Program is a wonderful, unique opportunity to experience life as a lighthouse keeper on a 1931 offshore historic lighthouse, enjoy the magnificent views of beautiful scenery and freighters coming to and from Lake Huron at the mouth of the St. Mary’s River, and to contribute to preservation of one of Michigan’s magnificent maritime monuments. Approximately 20 ships plus many more pleasure craft pass close by the lighthouse every day. Sunrises and sunsets are spectacular! DeTour Reef Light is the first off shore light (i.e. not land or island based) to offer a volunteer lighthouse keeper program. Today, only a few off shore lighthouses in the world provide this opportunity.
The living quarters are furnished similar to the period of Coast Guard staffing, which was terminated in 1974 when DeTour Reef Light was automated. The keeper’s room has a double bed, and two bunk beds are provided in the assistants’ room. A fully functional 1931 GE Hotpoint electric range with oven and warming drawer, an electric refrigerator, coffee maker, toaster and microwave oven are provided in the galley. The office includes a fully restored 1930’s roll top desk, a marine radio, and a glass front bookcase. The bath has a modern toilet, bathtub and shower. Unlike the manned period, water is sterilized with a filtration and ultra violet purification system and sewage is treated with a sophisticated marine sanitation system.
We encourage you to review the materials in the links below. For questions or more details, please email or call 906-493-6609.
2013 Application and Handbook
2013 Lighthouse Keeper Information & Application [PDF,
Lighthouse Keeper Handbook [PDF, 171 KB]
Comments from Past Lightkeepers [PDF,
Wild Weekend Adventure three-part video series about our Keeper Program with host Byron Goggin [External Site]
One of a Kind Experience by Susan Ager, Detroit Free Press columnist, 7/6/2006 [PDF, 243 KB]
Rooms with a View by Cindy Zuker, Country Lines (Nov/Dec 2006) [External Site]
Lighthouse Keeping at DeTour Reef by Mike Hershberger, past keeper at DeTour Reef [External Site]