Michigan Lighthouses: Gravelly Shoal Light

Gravelly Shoals offshore Light in Saginaw Bay, photo by George Thomas

The entry on Gravelly Shoal Light at Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light begins:

Point Lookout juts from the shore on the western shore of Lake Huron, approximately half-way between the mouth of the Saginaw River and Tawas Point. With only five to eighteen feet above it, Gravelly Shoal extends some 3 miles southeasterly from Point Lookout towards Big Charity Island. To help guide down-bound vessels headed for Saginaw Bay through the deeper water lying between the southeast end of Gravelly Shoal and Big Charity Island, Congress appropriated $5,000 to construct a lighthouse on the northwestern shore of Big Charity on August 18, 1856. Work began at the site that year, but as a result of being started so late in the season, the station was not completed and lighted until the following year.

Perhaps as a result of its exposed location, or as a result of its keeper’s dwelling being one of the few of wooden frame construction on any of the Great Lakes, the station was a constant source of maintenance problems, and was not surprisingly one of the first to be automated through the installation of an acetylene illumination system in 1900. At this time an occulting white Pintsch gas buoy was also placed at the southeastern end of Gravelly Shoal to better mark the western edge of the passage between the shoal and Big Charity Island.

As a result of the combination of increasing vessel size, improvements in offshore light construction and the growing adoption of radio direction finding equipment, it became plain in the late 1930’s that the old Charity light and the gas buoy on Gravelly Shoal had outlived their usefulness, and consideration turned to the construction of a state-of-the-art offshore aid to navigation at the eastern end of Gravelly Shoal to better mark the deeper water of the passage.

View the photo background big and see more in George’s Lighthouses slideshow.

More Michigan lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures.

Night … and light

night, photo by kare hav

While the lights of distant Bay City across Saginaw Bay from Point Lookout make for a beautiful photo, I feel for the photographer who wishes they’d shut them off at night.

If you’re interested in making your community more “night friendly” check out How to Start a Local Dark Skies Group from the International Dark Sky Association. In addition to miles and miles in the UP, Michigan has six designated Dark Sky Preserves and the Headlands International Dark Sky Park.

View the photo background big and see more in kare hav’s Pt. Lookout/AuGres slideshow.

Bradley Fleet in “the Frog Pond”

Bradley Fleet in the Frog Pond

Layed-up in the Frog Pond, photo courtesy Presque Isle County Historical Museum

This would be where I would tell you the fascinating history of why the winter harbor at Rogers City was referred to as the Frog Pond, but I’m unable to find much except for that’s what everyone calls it. There’s one in Toledo too.

The Presque Isle County Historical Museum is located in the historic home of Carl D. Bradley, general manager of Michigan Limestone and subsidiary Calcite Transportation. About the photo, they write:

The Bradley fleet layed-up in the “frog pond” at Calcite in 1949. From left to right are the W. F. White, B. H. Taylor, John G. Munson, Carl D. Bradley, T. W. Robinson, and Calcite.

View it big as the Bradley and see more in their Bradley Transportation Fleet slideshow including this aerial shot of the Frog Pond.

Click for more about the Carl D Bradley which ultimately became one of Michigan’s most tragic wrecks.

 

God Rays on Saginaw Bay

god-rays-over-saginaw-bay-by-tom-clark

God’s Rays over Saginaw Bay, photo by Tom Clark

Awesome shot from one month ago on Saginaw Bay! View Tom’s photo bigger and see more in his Skyscapes slideshow.

More from Saginaw on Michigan in Pictures.

The Great Storm of 1913 and the Charles S. Price

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I’ve featured the worst storm in Great Lakes history before, but ThumbWind has a cool feature on The Great Storm of 1913 that includes some interesting information and photos. It says in part:

…the most savage storm in the history of the Great Lakes swept the inland waters November 7-12, 1913 resulting in much greater loss of life. Combined of the forces of two storm fronts colliding with hurricane force bringing monstrous waves and driving snow and ice that doomed anyone caught out on the big lake. The greatest losses in lives and ships occurred on Lake Huron where 24 vessels were lost or severely damaged. 10 ships went to the bottom of the lake.

…On Lake Huron big freighters were tossed about by winds blowing from seventy-five to eighty miles an hour. One of these steamers was the Charles S. Price which received more space on the front pages of newspapers than any other ship. On Saturday morning, the Price, laden with soft coal, left Ashtabula, Ohio. When the freighter passed the town of St. Clair before dawn on Sunday morning, November 9, Second Mate Howard Mackley gave a short blast of the whistle as a signal to his young bride that he was passing and in reply she turned on an upstairs light in their home. By dawn the Price was making its way up Lake Huron. About noon Sunday the Price was seen north of Harbor Beach by Capt. A. C. May of the Steamer H. B. Hawgood.

On Monday afternoon a big steel freighter was seen floating upside down in the lake about eight miles north and east of the mouth of Lake Huron. Many people were anxious to learn the name of the steamer, although it was generally believed to be the Regina. On Wednesday morning an attempt was made to find out the identity of the vessel, however, owing to the high sea the diver did not make his descent. Lake Huron kept its awful secret for almost a week. It was not until Saturday morning, November 15, that William H. Baker, a diver from Detroit, solved the mystery. When he went down he read the name of the steamer twice and the letters spelled out Charles S. Price. The forward part of the bottom of the ship was buoyed up by air that was held in her when she turned turtle, but two streams of bubbles were coming out of the bow which meant that she would settle gradually. On Monday morning, November 17, the Price disappeared from view.

Read on for much more and follow Thumbwind on Facebook too!

More Michigan shipwrecks on Michigan in Pictures.

Rockport State Recreation Area on Lake Huron

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Rockport State Recreation Area – I, Alpena, MI, September, 2016, photo by Norm Powell

The Alpena CVB’s page on Rockport State Recreation Area says:

Rockport State Park, Michigan’s 100th State Park and an official Dark Sky Preserve, has over 4,237 acres of land located on the shores of Lake Huron north of Alpena. The property includes a deep-water protected harbor, an old limestone quarry of approximately 300 acres, a unique series of sinkholes, Devonian Era fossils, the Besser Natural Area, and a broad range of land types, vegetative cover, cultural resources and recreation opportunities. At the harbor the DNR has a boat launch facility, and there is a small park with picnic areas.

If you click through, they have a nifty guide that includes more information on the offerings including the fossils and sinkholes! You can get a map and more info from the State of Michigan’s page on Rockport Recreation Area.

View Norm’s photo bigger, see more in his slideshow, and view and purchase his photos on his website.

Many more Michigan parks on Michigan in Pictures!

Fourteen Foot Shoal Lighthouse in Lake Huron

14 foot shoal lighthouse by David Juckett

14 foot shoal lighthouse, photo by David Juckett

Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light remains the gold standard for information about the lighthouses of the Great Lakes. Terry writes (in part) of the process of constructing Fourteen Foot Shoal Light near the entry into Cheboygan Harbor:

With completion of the work at Poe Reef in 1929, the work crew turned their attention to work at Fourteen Foot Shoal. While the new light was of a totally different design, and considerably smaller than the twin lights built at Martin and Poe Reefs, the construction of the crib proceeded in much the same manner, with the construction of a wooden crib at the shore station on the Cheboygan Pier. After an area on the shoal was leveled, the crib was eased down wooden ways into the water, and towed to the shoal by the Lighthouse Tender Aspen. Once over the leveled area, the crib was sunk to the bottom by filling its empty pockets with rocks and gravel.

This timber foundation then served as a core, upon and around which wooden forms were constructed and filled with concrete loaded from the Lighthouse Service scow. As was the case with both the Martin and Poe stations, the upper edge of the crib was formed into a graceful flare, designed to deflect waves away from the pier, in order to help protect the structures which would be erected on the deck. With the completion of the concrete work, the pier stood fifty feet square, and its deck level fifteen feet above the water.

The steel framework for the single story equipment building was erected at the center of the deck. Standing thirty-four feet by twenty-eight feet in plan, on completion, the entire exterior of the building was sheathed with 1/4-quarter inch steel plates, each riveted to the steel framework beneath. Centered on the roof ridge, a cylindrical steel tower was integrated into the roof, standing six feet in diameter and twenty-four feet above the ridge line. The tower was capped with an octagonal cast iron lantern and outfitted with a flashing white Fourth Order Fresnel lens.

Read on for lots more and photos!

View David’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his slideshow.

Many more Michigan lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures!