Alpena Christmas Light, Alpena, MI.
I enjoyed painting the black coal pile and power plant with this small red light celebrating Christmas all by itself in the marina at the mouth of the Thunder Bay River. This was the 2016 Christmas Card and is still available as a card or prints.
The Alpena Breakwater Light in the painting is the 3rd light to mark this spot. In 1877, the first light was built. Alpena was a huge port for paper, wood and millions of wood shingles annually. In 1888, in a horrific fire that started in one of the sawmills on the pier and destroyed 200 homes and floating burning logs destroyed the wooden light. It was rebuilt with an open leg structure and large fog bell that had to be rewound every 2 1/2 hours in bad weather. A black 4 leg pyramid steel skeleton 34’ tower with black cast iron lantern room with a4th order Fresnel lens. In 1950, the light was painted red to make it a more visible day marker.
The Fresnel lens was removed to Grand Traverse Lighthouse in 1987. The Coast Guard put the light up for bid and Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy took ownership in June 2011 and is in the process of doing a restoration. For more info www.lighthousefriends.com. Go to www.michiganlighthouseart.com for prints and cards.
This was a fun painting to do as a friend’s mother was a lighthouse brat and lived in this light. She tells stories of how much the children loved living here. I have done a Christmas card depicting her and her sister playing in the snow near the lighthouse.
Located north of Harrisville, off Hwy 23, the lighthouse is on the tip of Sturgeon Pt. which extends one and one half miles into Lake Huron, MI. The light began operational in 1870 with a small keeper’s quarters attached. The light is 70’ tall with a large 3 1/2 Fresnel lens. In 1876, a life saving station was built and was in service 24/7 to service the 1000 plus vessels day that sailed the coast during that period. In 1915, the Coast Guard took over supervision. The light was electrified and automated in 1939.
The life savings buildings were destroyed. The lighthouse and quarters survived, but were badly vandalized. In 1982, the Alcoma Historical Society took charge of the restoration of the light and put a lovely maritime museum in the keeper’s quarters which is open June - August. The tower is open to climb for a small fee. The grounds are open year round. It is a very scenic drive up the coastline and worth the time to visit it. For more detailed history www.lighthousefriends.com. For prints and cards check out the website www.michiganlighthouseart.com
Monroe Breakwater Lights - a mystery
Researching Michigan lighthouse histories and finding why and how they came to be and their peculiarities is part of the fun in painting them, especially lights that are not there anymore. So here is the mysteries of the Monroe Breakwater lights.-
The first painting was done from an old photo in the SOM library archives in Lansing, MI. The old 1859 light was a wooden structure on the end of a breakwater in the Detroit River. The light is only a lantern sitting on a pedestal in a bird cage style top. As you can see the keeper augmented his rations by fishing. The light is no longer in existence and I could not find a written record.
The next mystery- this sketch of the 1889 larger Monroe Breakwater Light done from a photo on www.lighthousedigest.com. Monroe was a booming commercial shipping harbor in 1890-1940. The area was a summer resort with a mini-Grand Hotel and amusement park with large Ferris wheel- a Detroit summer vacation spot. This light had a charismatic keeper that welcomed visitors that took small tour boats to visit the light. I could not find any articles or photos online, the Monroe museum or old newspaper articles about the resort or lights. When the entrance to the harbor was moved 10 miles north all commerce went away. In articles, it seems that the light was scrapped for lumber in the mid-1940’s from an old salvage receipt. So if you have heard any family stories about grandparents vacationing in Monroe I would love to hear them. Hope you enjoy the Monroe Mystery.
I loved painting this piece. I was developing a technique new to me of using watercolor straight from the tube with just a few drops of water trying to create very rich intense layers of color. The surprise was that in putting down a next layer it also exposed layers of color underneath. Also, I outlined areas of the painting in a vivid bright pink and if you look closely you can see bits of it peeking out.
Pt. Aux Barques translates to “place of small boats”. This very early light was established in 1847 on the tip of the thumb. This was the last safe place to stop before heading across 100 miles of open water to Saginaw Bay. This white 89’ brick tower and keeper’s quarters were built in 1876. This hidden treasure of a light with it’s well maintained maritime museum is in a county park and campgrounds off Hwy 25 on the tip of the thumb.
The museum houses a few rare pieces of the original China service with the Lighthouse Services insignia. The Coast Guard ordered anything with the insignia destroyed when they took over in the 1950s. Be sure it include this light in any fall tour you take in the thumb of Michigan. For more history go to www.lighthousefriends.com. For cards and prints go to www.michiganlighthouseart.com
Michigan Artist, Anita Saviko, Her goal is to research the histories and paint all Michigan lighthouses/range lights past and present, a total of spprox. 150 lights.