Nick Korstad, originally from Seattle, has always wanted to be a lighthouse keeper. He isn’t sure when or where his fascination began, but he never gave up on it. In fact, Big Bay Point Lighthouse is the fifth lighthouse Korstad has owned. Situated on the shores of Lake Superior, about 30 miles north of Marquette in the Upper Peninsula, the lighthouse connects visitors with a simpler time.
It’s been automated since the early 1940s but has been running as a bed and breakfast (B&B) since 1986. “Society hasn’t come and encroached on it, so even though it’s been modernized … you’re getting an 1800s experience with the benefits of today’s technology,” Korstad says.
And his guests wholeheartedly agree. Korstad regularly hosts a wide variety of visitors, many of them world travelers. They often tell him it’s the best place they’ve ever visited. It could be Korstad’s hospitality, the wild beauty of the Upper Peninsula, or the remarkable fact that you’re staying in an operating lighthouse. “(There’s a) magical essence of being able to stay in an active lighthouse on Lake Superior … and I think it’s just that connection to a life-saving structure that is still playing a role in people’s lives,” Korstad reflects.
As autumn settles in, the B & B makes a wonderful getaway. Korstad credits Big Bay with some of the best fall colors around. The leaves change, the water gets rough, and the Upper Peninsula begins to show her true self.
No stranger to hard work, Korstad runs the attraction/B&B on his own. “It’s all my design, vision, and blood, sweat, and tears,” he laughs. And with the help of a housekeeper, he keeps his guests happy with full bellies and comfy quarters. There are five distinct rooms, each named after a past lighthouse keeper or assistant. Korstad has preserved the historic integrity of the lighthouse while also providing a relaxing place to stay with sweeping views of Superior and surrounding wildlife. There are birds, deer, moose in the spring, an occasional bear, and of course, insects.
Being the sole owner of a lighthouse certainly comes with its challenges. Korstad advises fellow lighthouse enthusiasts to only get into this line of work if you are prepared for a 24/7 job. It comes with many commitments, including renovations in the off season, and fairly regular trespassing. Although Big Bay Point Lighthouse tourists are encouraged to attend tours only on Sundays in the summer, they often sneak onto the lighthouse’s private property. Korstad takes it all in stride, accepting the inevitable downsides to owning a historic site.
If visiting during the fall, be sure to pack layers and prepare for an unpredictable climate. Powell Township, where Big Bay is located, is investing in lots of paths and trails for adventure-seeking hikers and bikers. Bask in the coziness of lighthouse quarters, enjoy a beautiful sunrise and sunset, and keep your fingers crossed for a showing of the northern lights.
MORE INFORMATION: bigbaylighthouse.com