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.