Skillagalee or “Island of Pebbles “ is the exposed part of a gravel shoal 1/2 mile by 2 miles wide. The exposed part sits just 20 feet above the the breaking waves of upper Lake Michigan, invisible to ships. The island is getting smaller with this year’s high waters. It is seven miles out west of Cross Village on the way to Beaver Island.
This painting depicts a sunset reflecting on the third lighthouse built on the island in 1888 with an attached keeper’s quarters and out buildings. The 58’ tower is a painted white brick octagon hourglass shape with a 4th order Fresnel lens. The Port Sanilac light on Lake Huron is a twin design.
The light was automated in 1969 and the tower remains the only standing structure. The island was auctioned off in 2015 to private owners. The true owners are the sea gulls who have raised their young among the pebbles for centuries. They say you can smell the island before you see it downwind on a warm day.
It is difficult to get to, but maybe seen from the Beaver Island Ferry. For more details go to www.lighthousefriends.com For a print and cards go to my website www.michiganlighthouseart.com
This light was one of the first that I painted in 1989 after the family had a wonderful afternoon on the long pier that extends out from a lovely little park and beach. We could only view the light across the harbor through binoculars.
Harbor Beach Breakwater Light was activated in 1885 as a huge “harbor of refuge” on the east side of Lake Huron halfway between Fort Gratiot and the top of the thumb. It is a conical cast iron tower with a height of 45 feet originally with a 4th order Fresnel lens. It is located at the elbow of a massive 8,200’ breakwater enclosing 650 acres of calm water in a storm. The quarters had a room for a galley and berth for a 3-man crew. It was lonely duty and they welcomed any boaters that wanted to stop for a visit. It was automated 1976.
The title to the light was transferred to the Harbor Beach Lighthouse Preservation Society July 2010. The Society is very energetic and has upgraded the little light including a replica fourth order lens in 2015. They will offer boat tours in the summer of 2021. Go to harborbeachlighthouse.org for more information. For prints and cards go to www.michiganlighthouseart.com
McGulpin Point Lighthouse
In 1869, the McGulpin Point light and fog bell was activated on a bluff overlooking the Straits of Mackinac. The light was visible only to ships headed into the Straits from the west.
The “Cream City”, a light tan brick was used in the dwelling and tower. The 1st and 2nd floors of the tower are 10’ square with buttressed corners. The 3rd floor of the tower was a 10’ octagon capped with a diagonal cast iron black lantern room with a 3 1/2 order Fresnel lens.
The light was decommissioned in 1906 when Mackinaw Point light in Mackinaw City was constructed. The light stood abandoned until 1913 when it passed to private ownership. the lantern room and lens were removed.
In 2008, Emmet County purchased the light and replaced the lantern room and installed an optic light. In June 2009, the tower opened to the public from May-October, Saturday and Sundays. It is worth the short drive west from Mackinaw City to view the Straits from the tower.
For more information go to www.mcgulpinpoint.org. For a colored print and cards of this painting go to www.michiganlighthouseart.com
New Presque Isle Lighthouse Detail
This painting has been a mascot of Michigan Lighthouse Art Gallery and has appeared on my street sign since 2009.
The New Presque Isle Lighthouse is one of five TALL TOWER’s in Michigan waters commissioned to be built by Superintendent Poe. They are known as Poe Lights. Little Sable Light, South Manitou Island, Seoul Choix Pt. Lt, - Lake Michigan, AuSable Light -Lake Superior, and New Presque Isle Light - Lake Huron, MI.
.The amazing detail of the top of the gently tapered brick tower is 113’ tall and it boasted a 3rd Order Fresnel Lens with graceful embellishments in the form of masonry gallery support corbels and arched topped windows in an Italian style. To learn more about Orlando Metcalfe Poe amazing journey to the position of “The Great Engineer of the Western Great Lakes” go to www.Terry pepper.com/Poe. F or a print and cards, go to www.michiganlighthouseart.com
This is a great light complex to visit, visiting two interesting unique lighthouses on one trip.
The “New “ Presque Isle Lighthouse was built with attached keepers quarters to replace the “Old” Presque Isle lighthouse which is a smaller light a mile away. The new brick tower at 113 feet tall is one of the tallest towers (a Poe Style tower) on the Great Lakes.The light had a Third Order Fresnel lens, which is now displayed in the museum.
The Coast Guard occupied the station from 1939 until the 1970’s when the light was automated. Both the Old Presque Light and the New Presque Light are part of a 100 acre public park north of Alpena off US 23. They are managed by the Presque Isle Township Museum Society. For more information go to : www.keepershouse.org
For gifts, prints and cards of this painting go to www.michiganlighthouseart.com
This light was constructed in 1929 on the east end of Belle Isle in the Detroit River as a tribute to William Livingstone. He was a prominent resident of Detroit and served 25 years as President of the Lake Carriers Association. He was responsible for many improvements on the Lakes.
The 70’ tall is a highly stylized Art Deco with bronze accents and carved door panel and bronze lantern top. The 50’ fluted shaft is made of white Georgia marble. It is the only marble lighthouse in the world and it was paid for by private funds. The light exhibited a rare working occulted light (winking) white beacon which could be seen for 15 miles.
It is easily accessible by driving to Belle Isle, parking at Dossin Museum and take the foot path. Belle Isle is now a State Park and requires a fee or park passport. For more history go to www.lighthousefriends.com. For a print or cards go to www.michiganlighthouseart.com
Frankfort North Breakwater Light was established in Frankfort in 1873. It has been moved and upgraded several times in its history. The current lighthouse was built in 1932 in a pyramidal style that is square white painted steel clad tower which is 67’ tall and had a fifth order Fresnel Lens. The tower was never manned, but accessed from shore by the elevated catwalk to a second story doorway that ran the length of the breakwater to shore. The catwalk no longer exists.
This light extends far out into Lake Michigan and offers some great photographs of towering splashing wave action. The breakwater does not stand very high above water level and lives have been lost from visitors walking out and being swept off and carried out by the strong rip current. The light can be reached by car and seen from shore.
For more history go to www.lighthousefriends.com and for a print or cards go to www.michiganlighthouseart.com
Poe Reef sits in the middle of a 3 mile wide south channel between the mainland and south of Bois Blanc Island , six miles north of Cheboygan, MI. The channel is heavily trafficked by vessels going to and from the Straits and Lake Huron. Poe Reef light sits on the north side of the channel and Fourteen Foot Shoal sits on the south side of the channel. The crew at Poe Reef remotely operated Fourteen Foot Shoal light when it was built. Poe Reef light is one of 14 reef lights in Michigan waters built in the 1920’s.
Built in 1929, this is a square 56’ tower atop a square concrete base. St. Martin light and Poe Reef light are built from the same plan. To “day marker” Poe Reef from the all white St. Martin light, the Poe Reef light is painted black, white, black with a red top with a 3rd order Fresnel lens. It was automated in 1974. The existing fog horn is still in service. It is not open to the public, but maybe seen from tour boats out of Mackinaw City, Mi.
Traversing between Lake Huron and Lake Superior has always been fraught with reefs, shoals, and islands found in the St. Mary’s River threatening shipping to this day. This painting is about one of them.
Detour Reef Lighthouse is located at the mouth of the St. Mary’s River in northern Lake Huron between Detour and Drummond Island, Mi. A lighthouse stood on on the west side of the St. Mary’s River shore from 1857-1931 and it was similar to the open structure of Whitefish Pt. Light. Because of increased shipping running aground on Detour Reef, it was felt that the light should be on the reef itself.
The Detour Reef Lighthouse currently stands about a mile off-shore on Detour Reef in about 24’ of water ( normally). The light became operational in November 1931. The 39’ square light is two stories tall and constructed of masonry covered in steel and cast iron. The first floor is the upper part of the engine and machinery area below. The second story is the keeper’s quarters. A square tower rises from the center of this structure. The tower featured a unique 3 1/2 Order Fresnel Lens in the lantern room with a watch room below. The tower is 74’ above water level. The Coast aGuard took it over in 1939, but a civilian keeper stayed on until 1962. The light was automated in 1974.
The Fresnel Lens is displayed at the Detour Passage Museum in Detour Village. The Detour Reef Preservation Society has restored the light with much volunteer effort and now owns and offers tours and an overnight keeper’s program. For more details about the program go to : www.drlps.com
For more history go to:www.lighthousefriends.com
For a print or cards go to my website: www.michiganlighthouseart.com
I found a photo of the Edmond Fitzgerald during my research and realized that the little Frying Pan lighthouse, though decommissioned, would still have been on the island the same sunny late fall day that the Fitzgerald sailed its way north on the St. Mary’s River to pick up iron ore from Duluth, Mn. It did not make the down bound trip, in Nov. 1975, as the ship sank in a November Gail on the return trip in Lake Superior.
The island sits in the St. Mary’s River about 2 miles up steam from Detour Village. It was named for a frying pan found by an early explorer when he first went ashore. In October 1882, a small 18’ white steel conical form light was erected with a 6th order Fresnel lens. When Pipe Island lighthouse was built in 1884, the two lights created range lights that could be lined up to enter or leave Detour Passage safely. The keeper's lodgings was a bunk in an uninsulated small shed. After years of freezing, the accommodations improved, In 1890, a larger oil house that included a living space was built. A landing crib, a pier, a plank walkway and a boat house was added in 1901.
A new light was built just south of the lighthouse in 1935 atop a nearby 700’ coal elevator. in 1937, the light was decommissioned. Now the island is marked by a flashing green light atop a pole. But the little lighthouse has survived. In 1988, it was removed and restored. It now sits outside the Coast Guard station on Waters St. in Sault St. Marie, Mi. Be sure to visit it when you go to the Soo locks.
For more history go to www.lighthousefriends.com. For lighthouse prints, gifts and cards go to my website: 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.