An easy ride at Little Sable Point Lighthouse

Little Sable Point Lighthouse by Kevin Povenz

Little Sable Point Lighthouse by Kevin Povenz

Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light has a bunch of information about the history of Little Sable Point Light:

Congress appropriated $35,000 for the project, and 39 acres of land were selected on which to construct the new Light station. The construction of a light at Little Point Sable was destined to be a daunting task, since the location was distant from any area of supply, and there was a total absence of roads to the site. Work began in April 1873 with the construction of a dock at the beach and temporary housing for the construction crew.

A pile driver was towed to the point, and in accordance with Poe’s plan, 109 one-foot diameter pilings were driven into the sand to a level nine feet below the surface in order to form a solid base on which to build the tower. Twelve feet of cut stone was then carefully laid atop the pilings to provide a solid base for the tower’s brickwork. The brick walls had a thickness of five feet at the base, tapering to a thickness of two feet at its uppermost. With the advent of winter, the crews were removed from the point, and work had to wait for the next spring.

…Being built of a particularly hard and durable type of brick, the decision was made to leave both the tower and ancillary structures in a natural, unpainted condition, since it was expected they would withstand the rigors of the weather without deterioration. This was no doubt a decision which sat well with Keeper Davenport, as painting was an activity in which the authorities held considerable stock, and he found himself in the enviable position of not having that millstone around his neck every year!

…It did not take long before mariners began complaining that the natural brick coloration made the tower difficult to see during daylight hours. As a result, the tower was painted white on September 24, 1900, and thereafter, keepers assigned to the tower would be stuck with the drudgery of the annual painting ritual.

…With the station unmanned, the Coast Guard began to see the ancillary buildings as a liability, and in the first half of 1955 a crew arrived at the station and demolished everything but the tower.

The tower remained in its white painted condition until 1977, when once again seizing the opportunity to reduce the ongoing maintenance costs associated with constant painting, a crew arrived at the station, and sandblasted the tower. Once again, James Davenport’s easy ride was exposed to the light of day!

More from Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light.

Kevin took this back in July of 2016. See many more great shots in his Lighthouse gallery.

More Michigan lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures.

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