Scenic USA - Michigan

Big Sable Point Light

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Big Sable Point and Lighthouse - Ludington State Park, Michigan

Photos by Amanda Haddox
Amanda Haddox Photography

     Known as Grande Pointe Au Sable among the first French explorers and traders, Big Sable Point is one of the major promontories on Lake Michigan's eastern shoreline. Despite the treacherous shoals around the point and the litter of at least ten shipwrecks, the U.S. Federal Government was slow to take action. A lighthouse was finally approved for the point in 1856, but the project wasn't funded for another 10 years, further delayed by the Civil War.
     Completed in 1867 and built of Cream City brick, the Big Sable Light is among the tallest of the Great Lakes lighthouses. Towering 100 feet above the shoreline and equipped with a 3rd order Fresnel lens, the Big Sable Point Lighthouse was an important landmark along the midpoint of the coastline. Big Sable Light Station - Ludington State Park, Michigan Even though the brickwork at the base was built five feet thick, tapering to two feet at the top, icy winters and strong gales took a toll on the 30 year old structure. The deteriorating Milwaukee brick called for a quick fix. By 1900 the tower was strengthened with a wrap of steel plates. Proving to be a cost effective repair, the Cana Island Lighthouse in Wisconsin followed with a similar fix in 1902.
     Serving as the centerpiece for the 5300 acre Ludington State Park, the Big Sable Lighthouse and duplex keeper’s quarters received honors on both the national and state historic register. The lighthouse is open every day from May through October from 10 am to 6 pm, but requires some effort to reach it. Members of Sable Point Lighthouse Keepers Association stay at the the lighthouse, conducting tours and performing maintenance. It's a mile and a half walk to the lighthouse, and following the beach on the way out and returning by the service road creates a wonderful loop hike. Opening in 1936, the park recently celebrated its 75th birthday. A great stop for lighthouse fans, the park is also a haven for hikers, bikers, anglers and canoeists.

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