Five in One Day! July 5th, 2016 (forgotten post)
Five lighthouses, that is, in one day. It's a record for us, and possibly one for you. Jimmy and I didn't have far to drive (approx 100 miles) to get from our Alpena Michigan c/g to our next stop. We had reservations at Wilderness St Pk, which gave us plenty of time to cruise Lake Huron's coastline and visit lighthouses!
Presque Isle Light Station (1870) was first on our radar, and we arrived at 9 am opening time. We climbed the conical brick tower (113 ft from its limestone foundation), enjoying the view of surrounding land and lake, pleased at the clear and sunny summer day! The light was automated in 1970 by the Coast Guard.
Not an especially good name for a lifeboat?
Which is it, open or closed?
Yes, it was technically open, but no one had bothered to unlock the doors!
Round and round we go!
A few miles south was the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, built in 1840, and deactivated in 1871. No longer operational, it's now a museum. It was a shortie, only 38', but we climbed its hand-hewn steps. It's said this lighthouse is haunted, though we didn't see/hear/notice anything unusual. Michigan's weather seems to have taken a toll on its stone exterior.
Above is the cozy living area in the light keepers quarters, attached to the old lighthouse, but this has an interesting twist. A family known as the Stebbins lovingly restored the lighthouse and keeper's dwelling for use as a summer home in the early 1900's. The Stebbins eventually opened the old Presque Isle Lighthouse to visitors, and later on left it to tourism.
Seven miles north of Rogers City we made our way to Forty Mile Point Lighthouse. Lit in 1897, this one is still operational, automated in 1969. Many structures on the grounds that were part of the installation remain, including lighthouse keeper quarters, bunkhouse, foghorn, oil house and the all important brick outhouse.
We climbed carefully!
Nope, we did NOT eat at Weinerlicious, but lookit the size of that hot dog!
"A point in the storm and a guiding beacon since 1889, Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse helped passing ships navigate through the treacherous waters of the Straits of Mackinac."
So begins their brochure ... touring this lighthouse was a treat, because the tour to the tower was guided by a "historic interpreter." (It's up 51 narrow steps and an 11-rung, eight-foot ladder through a narrow hatchway to the top.) Plus, the Keepers’ Quarters contains three rooms restored to their 1910 appearance, and there's a gallery exhibit on the history of the lighthouse featuring hands-on displays and original artifacts. We spent a long time at Old Mackinac.
The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1957 and replaced by navigational aids mounted on the newly-constructed Mackinac Bridge.
The Mighty Mackinac Bridge from lighthouse grounds.
Finally, we visited McGulpin Point Lighthouse, roughly three miles west of Old Mackinac Lighthouse, at the Mackinac Straights. They were closing early because a large tour group was momentarily expected. The lady at the desk asked us if we were part of that group. We told her we were not; she allowed as how we were lucky to arrive before the crowd descended. Agreeing, we commenced our own lighthouse tour. We always like watching a video if one is available -- and here a continuous loop of historic shipwrecks was showing in a small, warm upstairs room. When the group descended upon us, the room became claustrophobic. We beat it to the tower -- only 44 steps to the top, but the lantern room was also very warm!
We followed the path to the Chi-Sin ("Big Rock") ... a .3 mile trail down to Lake Michigan's shoreline. The Big Rock was sitting pretty in the water near the shore. From there we "went home," wondering if we'd feel the multiple up/down climbs tomorrow (we did). But it was fun. The group in question? A big bus full of Amish folk. No, in our shorts and T-shirts, we weren't part of the group.
Greetings from the grounds of Old Mackinac Lighthouse with the Mighty Mac Bridge as our backdrop.
The Great Lakes are known for savage weather and many shipwrecks. This string of lighthouses on Lake Huron and at the straits have played an important role in keeping mariners safe. Each lighthouse we visited today had it's own cachet, and we were happy to have made a nodding acquaintance with each ... it was a grand day all around.