Au Sable Lighthouse, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
October 26, 2010
The Au Sable Light Station is located in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and I think that it is the most peaceful setting of any lighthouse I’ve ever visited. Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light page on Au Sable Point Lighthouse agrees, saying that the Lake Superior coastline between Whitefish Point and Grand Island attracts tons of tourists & stands as one of the most beautiful stretches of shoreline in all of the Midwest. However:
It is difficult to imagine that during the 1800’s this stretch of seemingly bucolic coastline was known to mariners as “The Shipwreck Coast,” with the hulks of innumerable vessels pushed onto the rocks by violent storms out of the north, or lost in the pea soup fogs which frequently enveloped the area.
While a Light at Whitefish Point had marked the eastern end of this stretch since 1849 and the western limit had been marked by the North Light on Grand Island since 1856, the 1860’s found mariners forced to blindly navigate the intervening 80 miles through some of the most treacherous waters in all of the Great Lakes. Bowing to increasing pressure from the maritime community, the Lighthouse Board finally took up the mariners call in its 1867 annual report, requesting a Congressional appropriation of $40,000 for the construction of a new coast light at a point between the Grand Island and Whitefish Point Lights.
It took five years for Congress to appropriate funds for the light. Pepper notes that in 1910 official government documents stopped referring to the station as “Big Sable,” and began listing it as “Au Sable,” likely to eliminate confusion with Big Sable Point on Lake Michigan. Definitely click through to Seeing the Light for much more about this lighthouse including old photos!
More Michigan lighthouses from Michigan in Pictures!