Forty-eighth Lighthouse Expedition

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[edit] August 24 - 28, 2007 -- St. Mary’s River with the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association

[edit] August 24, 2007, Friday

10:20 am

We left home.

11:50 am

We stopped at Uncle John’s Cider Mill in St. John’s north of Lansing and left there at noon.

12:50 pm

We stopped for lunch at McDonalds in Cadillac. After a stop in Mesick for gas we arrived at the home of friends, Dan & Trudi Hook, on Crystal Lake in Beulah, MI

[edit] August 25, 2007, Saturday

In the morning Diana and Trudi did some shopping in Beulah. In the afternoon the four of us went to the newly renovated Point Betsie Lighthouse and climbed the tower. The view from the tower along the Lake Michigan shore was beautiful. We went to The Manitou restaurant for dinner and then took a seven-mile bike ride along the south shore of Crystal Lake.

[edit] August 26, 2007, Sunday

Our 40th Wedding Anniversary

10:00 am

We attended an outdoor worship service in a park in Elberta with Dan and Trudi.

12:15 pm

We left the Hook’s.

2:00 pm

We arrived at the home of Marvin and Mary Jane Jewell in East Jordan, MI. Both of the couples we visited had been members of our church in Waterford before retiring and moving north. We enjoyed visiting and catching up on the news of their lives and their families.

4:15 pm

We left the Jewell’s

5:40 pm

We arrived at the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse in Mackinaw City. We have visited this light many times on our lighthouse trips (see trips # 2, 5, 19, 29 and 46). It has been renovated and the grounds around the lighthouse look very nice. We had climbed the tower on a previous trip.

5:55 pm

We checked into the Hamilton Inn in Mackinaw City and then enjoyed dinner at the Lighthouse Restaurant across the street. After dinner we walked around town and returned to our motel at 8:45.

[edit] August 27, 2007, Monday

7:00 am

We had breakfast at the motel.

7:30 am

We arrived at the Shepler’s dock in Mackinaw City. Shepler’s is one of the companies that ferry people from the mainland to Mackinac Island. We were starting a two-day cruise to see lighthouses near the Straights of Mackinac and on the St. Mary’s River. Bill Shepler was our Captain for this trip. Dick Moehl and Terry Pepper of GLLKA were doing the narration about the different lighthouses. We have seen many of the lights scheduled on the cruise, but new to us will be those on the river.

8:10 am

Our boat, the Wyandotte, left the dock.

8:15 am

We could see the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, however, this time from the water. We crossed under the Mackinac Bridge that is celebrating its 50 anniversary this year. Also passing under the bridge was the freighter, Arthur M. Anderson, which was the last ship to see the Edmund Fitzgerald before it sank in November of 1975 when 29 lives were lost. We crossed back under the bridge and headed east to Round Island Passage.

8:40 am

The boat stopped so we could see the Round Island Lighthouse and the Round Island Passage Light (see trips # 2, 5, 34, 28 and 46). Both of these lights are in the passage between Mackinac and Round Islands.

9:15 am

Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse on Bois Blanc Island (also known as Bob-Lo) was our next stop (see trip # 46). This light is privately owned.

9:50 am

Next was Spectacle Reef Light built in 1874 (see trip # 21).

10:15 am

Then Martin Reef Lighthouse (see trips # 2 and 34).

10:50 am

The DeTour Reef Lighthouse was our next stop. The first light built at the entrance to the St. Mary’s River was in 1847 (see trips # 2 and 34). The current light was built in 1931 and has been recently renovated.

11:00 am

We entered the St. Mary’s River and passed Drummond Island which is the second largest island in the Great Lakes.

11:05 am

We passed DeTour Village, MI.

11:10 am

We reached the Pipe Island Lighthouse which was the first “new” light for us on this trip. It was built in 1888. In 1937 the lantern was removed and a steel skeletal structure was put in its place. This island is privately owned and is a wild life sanctuary. The tower can only be seen by boat.

11:35 am

The boat stopped so we could photograph the Round Island (St. Mary’s River) Lighthouse. It is privately owned and the island and light are currently for sale at $1.5 million. It is meticulously maintained and the lawn and gardens around the lighthouse are beautiful. The lighthouse was built in 1892. The keepers dwelling is a one and a half story wood frame structure with the square wooden tower attached to the front. The lantern room remains, but the light was moved to a nearby skeletal tower in 1923.

12:15 pm

We passed Neebish Island. In 1874 range lights were erected. There was a duplex dwelling for 2 keepers. Next was Little Neebish Island. Sixty-six people live on the island year round. There is one store and one church. We reached Johnson’s Point where the river divides and up bound boats are on one side of the island and down bound boats are on the other.

12:30 pm

We had lunch on board the boat.

1:05 pm

Our first Canadian light was Shoal Island Lighthouse. It sits on a pile of granite on the northwest side of St. Joseph Island in the St. Joseph Channel of the St. Mary’s River. It was built in 1890. It is no longer an active light.

1:30 pm

The Wilson Channel Range Lights mark the deep water passage from the St. Mary’s River in the North Channel at St. Joseph Island. The lights are 600 feet from each other with the rear light higher on the hill. These Canadian lights were built in 1905. They are now used as day markers for pleasure craft going into Georgian Bay. On our return trip on the North Channel we passed the Shoal Island lighthouse again.

2:40 pm

We passed Sugar Island on our right. The island is 15 miles long. We also saw more freighters as we continued to travel up river. We also passed an osprey nest high atop one of the channel markers.

3:00 pm

We passed the Middle Neebish Front Range Light located on the north end of Neebish Island facing down bound traffic. It was built in the 1800’s. The 40 foot tall metal tower has been replaced by a steel skeletal tower.

3:40 pm

We passed the down bound freighter, American Courage out of Wilmington, DE.

4:25 pm

We arrived in Sault Ste. Marie, the 2nd oldest city in the United States. (St. Augustine in FL is considered the oldest.) Canadian Sault Ste. Marie is on our right and American Sault Ste. Marie in on our left. We traveled along the Canadian shore before landing at the dock on the American side.

4:40 pm

We boarded our bus to travel through Sault St. Marie to our motel, The Quality Inn.

6:00 pm

We enjoyed dinner with the rest of the travelers in the motel dining room.

9:00 pm

We walked across the street for ice cream.

[edit] August 28, 2007, Tuesday

6:00 am

We had breakfast at the motel.

7:00 am

The busses started boarding. Much to our disappointment, it was raining but stopped shortly after we reached the boat.

7:45 am

We boarded the 2nd group of busses and went back through town to the dock.

8:15 am

We got on board the boat. Due to a large vessel scheduled to travel through the Soo locks, the Frontenac out of Montreal, Cananda, we had a 45 minute delay.

9:00 am

The boat left the dock and traveled towards the Soo locks. There is a 21-foot drop between the lake levels of Lake Superior and Lake Huron and therefore the necessity of the locks on the St. Mary’s River. Of the four locks the Poe (built in 1968) and McArthur (built in 1943) are currently in use and the Davis and Sabin locks are closed due to their age (1918 and 1919 respectively). The McArthur lock can handle ships up to 800 feet long and the Poe lock can handle ships up to 1000 feet in length. Visitors can view the locks from an upper deck viewing area. Approximately 5,000 vessels use the locks yearly. This was our first trip through the locks.

9:30 am

The boat entered the McArthur lock. The water entered the lock at one and a half million gallons per minute and it took 10 minutes to fill the lock to reach the level of Lake Superior.

9:45 am

We left the lock and continued traveling up the St. Mary’s River.

10:10 am

We reached the Point Aux Pins Front Range Light. The rear range light is a modern skeletal steel tower. These lights are markers for up-bound vessels on the St. Mary’s River. We also could see the Old Point Aux Pins Rear Range Light, which has been moved to private property and is no longer in use. They are typical wooden Canadian range lights that are painted white with red vertical stripes.

10:25 am

We passed the Paul R. Tregurtha freighter which was in the locks ahead of us.

10:35 am

We reached the Gros Cap Reef Light. It is a Canadian Light that was built in 1962. It is located in shallow water near the shipping channel. It is a square concrete structure with a helipad.

10:50 am

The boat then traveled close to the Upper Peninsula shore so we could see the Point Iroquois Light located near Brimley, MI (see trip # 2). It was built in 1871 and is a large brick structure. The light itself has been replaced by a beacon out in the water. This light has been renovated and is now open to the public for tours. Couples are asked to "sign on" as keepers and maintain the property and run the museum for one year at a time.

11:15 am

We passed Point Aux Pins again as we began our down bound journey. A “salty”, a ship that travels the oceans, passed us coming out of the locks – the Federal Kivalina, out of Hong Kong.

11:55 am

We entered the McArthur lock once again with 2 barges, one being the Poseidon (We hoped it wasn’t a bad omen!) This time we watched as the water was drained 21 feet to the level of Lake Huron.

12:15 pm

We left the Soo Locks.

12:30 pm

We once again enjoyed our lunch aboard the boat. The rain had stopped earlier but it was a windy day and not as pleasant as the day before. The die-hard photographers (like Don) stayed up on deck to get their pictures.

2:50 pm

Once again we passed the Round Island (St. Mary’s River) Light.

3:00 pm

We spotted the freighter, Atlantic Erie out of Halifax, Canada traveling up bound and then a few minutes later the John J. Boland.

3:15 pm

We reached DeTour Village and passed Frying Pan Island where there had once been a lighthouse.

3:20 pm

We watched a ship loading lime stone as we passed Drummond Island.

3:30 pm

Once again we reached DeTour Reef Light

4:10 pm

We passed Spectacle Reef Light.

4:40 pm

We reached Poe Reef Light.

4:50 pm

We reached Fourteen Foot Shoal Light (see trips # 1, 19 and 21).

5:05 pm

We passed the Cheboygan Crib Light and traveled up the River to see the Cheboygan River Front Range Light which is owned by GLLKA (see trips # 1 & 46). We passed the new ice breaker, Mackinaw.

6:10 pm

We docked in Mackinaw City and bid farewell to our fellow travelers. We purchased fudge at Joanne’s Fudge Shop before leaving town.

6:25 pm

We were on I-75 heading south.

7:00 pm

We stopped at McDonald’s for dinner.

8:50 pm

We had a quick stop for gas

10:30 pm

Arrived home.

A special thanks to the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, Dick Moehl and Terry Pepper for a great tour of the St. Mary's River. We also want to thank Shepler's and Captain Bill Shepler, and his crew, for providing a great service to lighthouse enthusiasts on these cruises.

Trip Totals: 21 Lighthouses (8 new), 5 days, 670 miles by car and many by boat.

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Lighthouses: A Photographic Journey

Conceived and Developed by David S. Carter
Photographs by Donald W. Carter
Text by Diana K. Carter, Donald W. Carter & David S. Carter

Copyright © 1995-2011 David S. Carter, Donald W. Carter, & Diana K. Carter. All rights reserved. Reproduction by any means, physical or electronic, in part or in full, without the express permission of the authors, is strictly prohibited.

This article was last modified on 6/6/2009.

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