Rock of Ages Lighthouse is Michigan’s tallest

Rock of Ages Lighthouse

Rock of Ages Lighthouse, photo by Dave

I was looking for something on Michigan in Pictures and came across a series of “Michigan’s Tallest” posts that I did a couple of years ago. I thought it made sense to add to that list, so – according to Wikipedia’s list of the tallest lighthouse towers in the United States – measuring in at 130′ tall, Rock of Ages is Michigan’s tallest lighthouse.

It’s also the tallest lighthouse on the Great Lakes and on his Rock of Ages Light page at Seeing the Light, Terry Pepper writes (in part):

Consisting of a strip of exposed rock 50 feet wide and 210 feet long, with it highest point some sixteen feet above the water, Rock of Ages lies two and a half miles off the western end of Isle Royale. While the 205-foot wooden sidewheel steamer CUMBERLAND had been the rock’s only victim in over a half century of Superior navigation, changing navigation patterns in the final decade of the nineteenth century suddenly made Rock of Ages a critical impediment to safe navigation on the big lake.

As Duluth grew to preeminence as the lake’s major shipping port, a growing number of mariners were choosing to set a course along the northern shore during Superior’s violent storms in order to avoid the uncertain and changeable conditions of open water. With Rock of Ages lurking directly in the path of vessels choosing this course, a cry arose in the maritime community for the establishment of a Light on Rock of Ages.

…On completion, the tower stood eight stories in height, and offered relatively large and comfortable quarters for the complement of four keepers assigned to the station. A steam heating plant located in the upper cellar provided heat to cast iron radiators in all rooms, and the first deck was home to the fog signal plant and hoisting engines for the pillar crane located at the edge of the pier level. This crane was used both for raising supplies delivered by the lighthouse tenders at the wharf and for raising the keeper’s boat for storage on the safety of the pier deck. An office and common room made up the second deck, and a mess room and kitchen the third. The Keeper and First Assistant’s quarters were located on the fourth deck, with the Second and Third Assistants quarters immediately above on the Fifth deck. A service room and watch room comprised the sixth and seventh decks, leaving the huge lantern capping the structure above.

Much more at Seeing the Light including an aerial photo of this lonely location. Terry has a listing of verified tower heights for anyone who’s interested too.

About the photo, Dave writes: Photo taken from the back of Voyageur II heading into Windigo with 7 foot waves at 300mm. Yeah I almost got sea sick from taking these.

View his photo bigger and see more in his Lighthouses of Michigan slideshow.

More lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures.

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