Somewhere in Light

Somewhere in Light, photo by Kristina Austin Scarcelli

mLive reports that the Government Services Administration is taking bids from nonprofit or community groups to take stewardship of the Round Island Passage Light before auctioning it off. Click through for all the details.

Lighthouse Friends has a page on the Round Island Passage Lighthouse that includes the entry from the 1948 Coast Guard Bulletin on this light that replaced the Round Island Lighthouse (in the background on the left):

The substructure of the new lighthouse, 56 feet square up to the 1 foot line below mean low water, is a timber crib with cells at the perimeter filled with concrete and internal cells filled with 5-inch to 14-inch rock. The superstructure is concrete with a reinforced concrete deck. It has four vertical and four sloping sides, giving the lighthouse a new and unusually trim appearance. The tower is appropriately ornamented on each side with a 4- or 5-foot Indian Head plaque, symbolic of the area.

But the most interesting thing about Round Island Passage Light Station is its main light. Located in the top section of the 41 ½-foot tower, it is indeed a departure from the “single light source” arrangement that has been in use for centuries. This new light apparatus is a solid bank of sealed beam lamps of 3,000 candlepower which produce a characteristic of occulting green every 10 seconds. It is visible 16 miles. (These sealed beam lamps are similar to your present day automobile headlights.)

The fog signal consists of two air operated diaphragm horns, sounding simultaneously with 3 seconds blast and 27 seconds silence. The radiobeacon is class B. Distance finding is also provided.

The passage between Mackinac Island and Round Island has long been regarded as extremely hazardous. It is now adequately guarded by Round Island Passage Light Station. This will result in a saving of time on trips and will relieve the congestion of Poe Reef Channel. This, in turn, will increase Great Lakes’ tonnage.

View Kristina’s photo bigger and see more in her Michigan Lighthouses slideshow.

Night Watchman

August 19, 2014

Night Watchman

Night Watchman, photo by Aaron Springer

Great shot of the Frankfort North Breakwater Lighthouse.

View Aaron’s photo bigger and see more in his slideshow.

Sand Point (Baraga) Lighthouse, MI

Sand Point (Baraga) Lighthouse, MI, photo by Mark

Sand Point Lighthouse in Baraga is one of two Michigan Sand Point Lights listed in Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light. (the other being Sand Point in Escanaba):

At the dawn of the 1870’s, the small town of L’Anse found itself in the thick of the iron boom. With plans in place to complete the construction of the Marquette, Houghton and Ontonagon Railroad tracks into town in 1872, the naturally protected harbor at L’Anse was considered to be primary competition for Marquette and Escanaba ore shipments. With an infusion of East Coast investment dollars, ore docks and wharves quickly sprang up along the waterfront and the town’s population skyrocketed as people moved into the area to take advantage of the coming boom.

Expecting a dramatic rise in maritime traffic, the city fathers began applying every possible pressure to the Federal Government for the construction of a lighthouse to guide mariners into the harbor. Agreeing with the areas potential, the Lighthouse Board reported in 1871 that on completion of the railroad “the place will at once become an important point for the shipment of iron ore. A good harbor is found at the head of the bay, and it should be lighted.

…In September 1873, New York financier Jay Cooke declared bankruptcy. Among other interests, Cooke had served as primary financier of the North’s cause in the Civil War and was the principal backer of the Northern Pacific Railroad. The company’s collapse rippled throughout the country, with almost all of the nation’s railroads declaring bankruptcy. This Financial Panic of 1873, had disastrous impact on the nation’s business, ore shipments from Lake Superior virtually dried-up, and the docks at L’Anse sat empty

The light was finally exhibited on the night of August 10, 1878, but it has to be one of the most hard luck lights on the lakes. Read all about the trials and tribulations of Sand Point at Seeing the Light and also see some great old photos!

View Mark’s photo background big and see more in his massive Mark’s Lights slideshow.

Many more Michigan lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures.

Milky Way and Stars over Ludington Lighthouse

Milky Way and Stars over Ludington Lighthouse, photo by Craig

Craig writes:

The beacon shines brightly from both the North Breakwater Lighthouse and the South Breakwater Light in Ludington Michigan at night. The Milky Way and other stars shine brightly on this Lake Michigan scene.

View his photo bigger and see more in his slideshow.

Many (many) more Michigan lighthouses and more night shots on Michigan in Pictures!

Point Betsie Lighthouse original Fresnel lens

Point Betsie Lighthouse original Fresnel lens, photo by 22 North Photography

Point Betsie Lighthouse is located on the shore of Lake Michigan just north of Frankfort. It has the distinction of being Michigan’s most photographed lighthouse, and now you can take your photography indoors! The Friends of Point Betsie Lighthouse detail the restoration of the lighthouse and grounds and say:

The first floor is now an exhibition area depicting the history of the lighthouse and the lifesaving operations of the U.S. Lifesaving Service and U.S. Coast Guard at Point Betsie. The rehabilitation process included the installation of all new utility components in the quarters, restoration of the interior walls and floors, and the complete renewal of the tower and lantern. Funding for these projects came from the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program and a distinctive “Save America’s Treasures” award from the Federal Government, along with necessary matching contributions by Point Betsie’s private donors.

One key donation was for the restoration of the Victorian staircase in the assistant keeper’s quarters, a major gift in memory of former Assistant Keeper Henry LaFreniere and his wife Hattie. The stairway provides access to a beautiful two-bedroom vacation apartment, the rent from which is an important source of revenue for the light station. Another important historic contribution consisted of radiators that had previously heated Point Betsie’s adjacent Coast Guard station.

As the interior rehabilitation was moving forward, many gifts of furnishings and other period-appropriate items were donated or loaned to the Friends group for display and use. Other items, especially for the apartment, were carefully selected for purchase. The hopes of many Point Betsie devotees were realized when the beautiful Fourth-order Fresnel lens which provided the station’s sweeping beam for about a century was returned by the Coast Guard for display on the lighthouse’s first floor.

You can head over to the Point Betsie Lighthouse site for hours and also click over to the Michigan in Pictures Facebook for a few more photos of the new displays!

View the photo bigger and see more in the Inside Point Betsie gallery on Facebook.

More Point Betsie on Michigan in Pictures!

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, photo by charles hildebrandt

Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light is the go-to resource for Michigan lighthouses. His Fort Gratiot Lighthouse page begins:

The entrance into the St. Claire River from Lake Huron had long been deemed of strategic importance. Named after General Charles Gratiot, the engineer in charge of its construction, the Fort Gratiot military outpost was established at the entrance to the river in 1814, and ensured the security of vessels making the passage.

With the surge in vessel traffic on Lake Huron in the early 1800’s, the need for a lighthouse to guide vessels into the river and away from the shallows at the River entrance became a matter of increasing importance. In response to this need, Congress appropriated $3,500 to construct a lighthouse “near Fort Gratiot, in Michigan Territory” on March 3rd of 1823.

The contract for construction of the lighthouse and keepers dwelling was awarded to Captain Winslow Lewis of Massachusetts. Lewis was the inventor of the patented Lewis Lamp, which the Fifth Auditor had universally adopted as the primary source of illumination in the nation’s growing inventory of lighthouses. A staunch supporter and ally of the Fifth Auditor, Lewis had branched out into the business of lighthouse construction, and as the frequent low bidder, was being awarded a growing number of contracts to fulfill the nation’s need for navigational aids on the East Coast.

Lewis sub-contracted the construction of the tower and keepers dwelling that would become known as the “Fort Gratiot Light” to Mr. Daniel Warren of Rochester New York. Work commenced on the structure, but appears to have been running far beyond the scope of the original bid, since Congress appropriated an additional $5,000 for the project’s completion on April 2, 1825.

With the completion of construction on August 8th of that year, Fort Gratiot Light held the honor of becoming the first lighthouse in the State of Michigan.

Read on for much more including a couple of old photos of the light.

View Charles’ photo background big and click for more of his lighthouse photos.

Many more Michigan lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures!

Wawatam Lighthouse

Wawatam Lighthouse, photo by charles hildebrandt

While many of Michigan’s historic lighthouses have been decommissioned and are mostly ornamental, Pure Michigan tells the story of how the Wawatam Lighthouse started out as an ornamental lighthouse and now actually has a job! Thinking there’s a children’s story here…

This classic lighthouse started life in 1998 as a Michigan Welcome Center travel icon at Monroe, Michigan. In 2004, the Monroe Welcome Center was being revamped and the lighthouse was put up for relocation. The City of St. Ignace was the lucky recipient and the structure was trucked north in five pieces. It stayed on the Chief Wawatam Dock for a time, awaiting the construction of its new platform. The red, white and green lighthouse was repainted in bright white with red accents. In June 2006, a crane reassembled the tower on its new site. Everything was in readiness, just waiting for U.S. Coast Guard certification. Wawatam Lighthouse takes its name from the late railroad ferry Chief Wawatam, which used this same dock from 1911 through the mid-1980s.

When you visit the lighthouse, you will pass right by the Chief’s old lift gate. Wawatam Lighthouse’s beacon was first lit on August 20, 2006. Visible for more than 13 miles out over Lake Huron, it is now an official aid-to-navigation. The 250 millimeter Fresnel lens casts its light in a 152 degree arc. Though the lighthouse’s GPS location is 45-051-19.700 N by 084-42-09.000 W, it will most likely be easier for you to find it straight out east of McCann Street. The tower is 52 feet tall, but the Coast Guard looks at it in a different way. They rate it as 62 feet tall from the water. It is even lit in the winter to guide snowmobiles across the frozen lake.

View Charles’ photo background big and see more in his slideshow.

More Michigan lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures!

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