Summer Evening at Big Sable Point Lighthouse, photo by Craig Sterken Photography
This weekend is the 2nd Annual Michigan Lighthouse Festival featuring Big Sable Point Lighthouse’s 150th Anniversary! The festival features lighthouse tours throughout the weekend, a vendor show on Saturday and Sunday, Friday Night dinner with special guest speakers, topped off with Ric Mixter performing “The Storm” on Saturday night.
Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light has some great information about the history of Big Sable Point Lighthouse including an explanation of the light’s unique appearance:
Construction began in early 1867 with the arrival of Lighthouse Board and Army Corps of Engineers workers, who immediately began the construction of a dock at which to unload the necessary supplies for the project. Next, a temporary cofferdam was constructed to keep waster from entering the foundation, which consisted of tightly fitted cut stone blocks beginning a depth of six feet below grade and extending three feet above.
On this sturdy foundation, the skilled masons began to raise the tower. Constructed of cream city brick, the walls were laid five feet thick at the foundation, tapering to a thickness of two feet thick immediately below the gallery. Within the tower, a circular inner wall, eight feet in diameter supported the cast iron spiral staircase. On its’ vertical climb, the stairway passed through three landing areas.
…In 1898, the District Inspector reported that the cream city brick used in constructing the tower was found to be flaking as a result of exposure to the elements, and voiced concern that if left as-is, the integrity of the tower would likely be compromised. This flaking grew so severe, that in 1899 a contract was awarded to the J. G. Wagner Company of Milwaukee to construct the necessary steel plates to encase the tower. The plates were satisfactorily test assembled at the Milwaukee Lighthouse Depot, loaded onto lighthouse tenders and then shipped to Big Sable. With the arrival of the plates, the process of riveting the plates together around the tower, and filling the void between the brick and the plates with cement began. The construction was completed in June 1900 at a total labor and materials cost of $4,925. In order to increase the visibility of the tower during daylight hours, the new cladding was painted white with a contrasting black band around its’ middle third.
View the photo bigger, see more in Craig’s Big Sable Lighthouse slideshow, and view & purchase photos at craigsterken.com.
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