August 3, 1854: Congress approves funding for Minnesota Point Light Station

On this day in 1854, the United States Congress approved $15,000 for the construction of a light station on Minnesota Point. The action came in response to the 1854 Treaty of LaPointe, which opened the “Minnesota side” of Lake Superior to non-native settlement. In the early 1850s the U.S. government began work on a series of locks on the St. Mary’s River at Saulte Ste. Marie which would allow shipping traffic from Lake Michigan to access Lake Superior. The new locks would be complete in 1855, a year after the Second Treaty of LaPointe allowed settlement on the Minnesota side of Lake Superior. Pioneers at the Head of the Lakes—which meant Superior, as Duluth did not yet exist—looked forward to a surge in commerce. At that time (and until 1870) all vessels entering the St. Louis River from Lake Superior were forced to negotiate a single void between Minnesota Point and Wisconsin Point known as the Superior Entry. Realizing that traffic through Superior Entry would increase dramatically, Congress felt a navigational light was in order. A site for the station on the southern-most portion of Minnesota Point—known as the Barrens—was selected and surveyed in 1855. Read the rest of the history of the Minnesota Point Light here.

The Minnesota Point Lighthouse ruins, c. 1900. (Image: Library of Congress)ta point life