May 27, 2011

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse

location-Port Huron, MI
active beacon-yes
stamp- yes, at the Lightship Huron
players-Jen, Lincoln, Spencer, Jackson and Grandpa

Just a few days after our visits to The Colony, the Harsens Island Range Lights and the Peche Island Lighthouse, we we're ready to get right back out there and see more!  Once you get going you don't want to stop.    After all that warm weather, this day felt pretty frigid, brrrrrrr.  But, we were not about to let that be an excuse to not take advantage of the day.  We chose Port Huron for today's destitantion.  There is a lot to do there--a lighthouse, a lightship, a museum, a depot and a faux house.  We really like to wear out the kids.  Or, do they like to wear me out, hmmmm?

Our first stop of the day was to Lighthouse Park to check out the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse.  It is the oldest lighthouse in Michigan.  It marks the entrance of the St. Clair River from Port Huron.  Fort Gratiot was originally a military post and was named after General Charles Gratiot.  He was also an engineer and was in charge of construction on the  lighthouse. Construction on the original lighthouse began in 1825.   I'm guessing he didn't do the greatest job, because just three short years later, in 1828, the lighthouse collapsed in a storm.
It seems as though they opted not to put him in charge of reconstruction.  The new lighthouse was built in 1829, by Lucius Lyon.  He later went on to become a United States senator.  The lighthouse location was moved north of the base.  This was to make it easier for ships to spot it.  The new lighthouse was well constructed, but also had a couple problems that made it hard for ship to distinguish it from the rest of the city lights.  In 1933, the fixed white light was changed to an automated flashing green light.  The other problem was that it was too short.  In the early 1860's the tower was raised from 74 feet to it's current height of 82 feet.
Colonel George McDougall, Jr. was the first official lighthouse keeper.  He served from 1825 until his death, in 1842.

Public tours stopped in 2008, when the Coast Guard deemed it unsafe.  The lighthouse is currently off limits and behind a fence, so we couldn't get very close to it.  The property is five acres and consists of the tower, the keepers house, crew quarters and the foghorn building.  It's just north of the Blue Water Bridge.  The lighthouse and the property was officially signed over to the Friends of the Fort Gratiot Light on September 2, 2010.  They are trying to raise money to restore the grounds.  If you are interested, you can adopt a step or become a member.  We can't wait to go back and visit when it reopens!

view from the beach with the Blue Water Bridge

This is as close as we could get to take a family shot in front of the lighthouse.
It's the white thing behind the fence.

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