The Only Choice: Seul Choix
July 2, 2013
Wikipedia’s entry for Seul Choix Light begins:
This location is the only harbor of refuge in a long and dangerous stretch of coast; the translation of the French name is “only choice” so it is clear that it was used as a refuge by the early French traders in this area. Local references state that the correct pronunciation is “Sis-shwa”, assumed to be the common name used by both the French Voyageurs and the Native Americans with whom they traded furs.
In the 1880s, there was increased maritime traffic between the harbors on Lake Michigan’s western shore and Green Bay on the one hand, and the Straits of Mackinac on the other. Although the St. Helena Island Light marked the western entry into the Straits, and Poverty Island Light lighted the entrance to the Bays de Noc, there were no lighthouses to aid mariners navigating a dark 100-mile (160 km) stretch of coastline on the southern shore of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The navigation season along this shoreline often began and ended with treacherous storms. Waves would build as they traversed the lake, making shelter a matter of life and death. Thus, mariners would seek shelter on the leeward side of points protruding into the lake along this stretch of unlighted shore.