Located in one of America's oldest wildlife refuges, established under President Teddy Roosevelt in 1905, stands the proud, nearly forgotten, abandoned Huron Island Lighthouse. Now a new group of "Friends" is going to try and change that.
As with other lighthouses left to the elements and vandals, Michigan's Huron Lighthouse, overlooking Lake Superior, in Marquette County, still stands, but the years of neglect to the station are most evident. Chipped lead paint and broken plaster cover the floors, roofing shingles were ripped away by the lake's severe winter storms, leaving water to seep in and damage the roof and the interior of the station. The beautiful old wooden shutters that once guarded the windows are gone, as are the windows themselves, having been smashed by vandals and now replaced by boards.
The other buildings at the island station also show signs of neglect. Concrete staircases, that are now missing some railings, lead from the lighthouse down the cliffs to the dock and boat-house, also deteriorated, and vandals have painted names and slogans everywhere.
The station, listed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1975, has been abandoned since the early 1960's and is now under the control of U.S. Fish and Wildlife. Although the U. S. Coast Guard continues to maintain the modern light in the tower, it has no idea what happened to the original Fresnel lens. Whether it was stolen or destroyed by vandals, dumped in the water, (as was often done at remote lighthouses), in a Coast Guard warehouse, or in a private collection is unknown.
The new group, formed to save the lighthouse, realizes that their efforts will be difficult, since the general public never has the opportunity to see or even visit the lighthouse. The island is only accessible by private boat and the old dock may not last another winter. Irregardless, the U.S. Department of the Interior does not want to see any significant number of people visiting the island, instead it wants to protect the natural environment.
Donations are needed to preserve this important part of America's lighthouse history and heritage. You can help by sending a donation to:
Huron Island Lighthouse Preservation Association
P.O. Box 381
L'Anse, MI 49946
This story appeared in the
October 1999 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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