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Grand%252BMarais%252Bvicinity

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Au Sable Light Station, Southern Shore of Lake Superior, Grand Marais, Alger County, MI



Data Pages


Drawings


Item Title


Location
Southern Shore of Lake Superior, Grand%252BMarais%252Bvicinity, MI

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Created/Published
Documentation compiled after 1933.

Notes
Survey number HABS MI-317
Unprocessed field note material exists for this structure (FN-54).
Building/structure dates: 1874 initial construction
Building/structure dates: 1958 subsequent work
Significance: At an isolated point along the southern shore of Lake Superior sits the Au Sable Lighthouse, constructed in 1873-74 to provide a beacon for the safe passage of commercial shipping vessels. At the time of its construction, it was the only light along an eighty mile stretch of heavily traveled lakeshore. Sudden storms and thick fog left numerous shipwrecks that dot the southern shore, labeling this area the "Graveyard Coast." Au Sable Point was made particularly treacherous by a shoal which stretches nearly one mile into the lake and is only six feet deep in places. The demand for the Au Sable Light was created by a boom in the shipping trade, the result of the discovery of rich mining deposits and the subsequent construction of Sault Saint Marie Canal in order to facilitate trade. Because the Au Sable Lighthouse allowed for safe shipping through this area for the first time, it played an important role in stimulating industry and commerce throughout the Great Lakes. Ships loaded with lumber, iron ore, copper, coal and grain as well as the large iron and steel freighters, made their way along the lakeshore. The site originally consisted of the light tower and attached keeper's dwelling, boat house, and privy. A fog signal was added in 1897, a second keeper's house dwelling in 1909. The design of the brick light tower is typical of those constructed in scattered areas throughout the Great Lakes during the nineteenth century, representing the standardization of plans generated by the U.S. Lighthouse Board. The light tower is 91 feet high and rises a total of 110 feet above Lake Superior. It is brick with cut stone lintels, sills and foundation. The lantern atop the tower houses a third order, fixed Fresnel lens which emits a beam of light in an arc of 270 degrees over the lake. The lighthouse was automated in 1958. No longer requiring the presence of a full time keeper, the buildings were abandoned. On January 12, 1968 the site, with the exception of the light tower, was transferred to the National Park Service as part of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The Coast Guard continues to operate the light as an unmanned facility.

Collection
Historic American Buildings Survey (Library of Congress)

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