You’ve heard of the swallows returning to Capistrano? Well, every fall in Michigan, the Monarch butterflies return to the Peninsula Point lighthouse.

Stonington Peninsula juts out from Delta County into Lake Michigan, and – if you look at it upside down on a map – it kinda looks like a chubby little state of Michigan. Sort of. At the tip of this picturesque piece of land is Peninsula Point Lighthouse. It was constructed in 1865 for the price of $15,000 – yellow, made of brick, and forty feet tall.

Okay, some of you may be thinking, "so what, it’s just another Michigan lighthouse…big deal". Yeah, it’s another Michigan lighthouse but something unique happens here that doesn’t seem to occur at other Michigan lighthouses: the arrival every fall season of migrating monarch butterflies. THOUSANDS of ‘em.

What brings these butterflies?
A rest.
That’s right, they come here to rest.

They come here and perch in the trees, bushes, and structures to catch a breather as they make their way to Mexico. This 2,000-mile butterfly trek has been going on for years and years, and each generation of monarch butterflies seem to have an instilled instinct to stop here every fall, just as their ancient ancestors did.

Not only to the monarch butterflies migrate here, but you can also catch sight of many migratory birds as well. If you climb to the top of the lighthouse, you get great views of these butterflies and birds.

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As for the lighthouse itself, from 1865 thru 1922, there were a total of six head lighthouse keepers - Ira D. Buck, Thomas Bearse, Charles Beggs, Henry Corgan, Peter Knudsen, and the final head keeper that lasted the longest, James D. Armstrong - 33 years from 1889 to 1922.

In October 1889, Armstrong made the trek to Peninsula Point; unfortunately, there were no roads at the time. He had find his way to the peninsula tip by forging his way through the woods, sometimes using Indian trails. To make things even tougher on him, he had to push a wheelbarrow through all that foliage just to haul his belongings to the lighthouse. Not realizing the desolation and loneliness of that peninsula, he seriously thought about packing it up and going somewhere else…but his wife and kids talked him out of it, because they were having a great time there. Thanks to his family, Armstrong stayed 33 years.

When the U.S. Forest Service took over ownership in 1936, it was made accessible to the public with picnic grounds and camping. Accepting the public means an invitation to vandals, who began ruining the old lighthouse. In 1948, when the cost of repairs was getting too high, the Forest Service was deciding to just tear it down and get it over with. Thanks to the NGOPH (National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry), the lighthouse was restored and saved from the old lighthouse graveyard.

Thanks to them, people can come visit and enjoy the views, the beauty, and if you come in the fall, the monarch butterflies. Take a look at the gallery, with some photos of the actual migrating butterflies!

The Lighthouse of Monarch Butterflies

Inside the White Shoal Lighthouse

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