Michigan Lighthouses: Always a welcome sight

By David Fleet
Ortonville — In 1829, the beam of Fort Gratiot Lighthouse first alerted mariners on Lake Huron.
At 82 feet, the lighthouse marks the entrance the Saint Clair River and today is the oldest lighthouse in Michigan.
From 6:30-7:30 p.m., June 21, the Brandon Township Public Library, 304 South St., will host historian Andrew Kercher to learn more about Michigan Lighthouses.   Hear stories of ever-changing technology, government corruption, German saboteurs and life saving rescues
“Michigan Lighthouses have guided everything from 1,000 foot freighters to sailboats on the Great Lakes since the 1820s,” said Kercher. “These iconic pieces of architecture have saved countless lives.”
Kercher has a degree in history and Philosophy from Albion College and a MS in Historic Preservation from EMU. He has worked at museums around the state, living in the Straits of Mackinac for nearly a decade.
“Lighthouses are very unique, are in idyllic places, and no two are the same,” he said. “The provide a romantic image. But, in reality the job of lighthouse keeper was a civil service job, that while steady work, did not pay well. The lighthouses also tend to be in isolated places on an island or reef. It’s a hard life and very simple.”
There are 129 lighthouses in Michigan, more than any other state in the nation, he said.
“We have a lot of coastline in Michigan,” he said. “It makes sense since we would have those aids to navigation, not to mention a good place to build forts and place cannons.”
Registration required call (248) 627-1460 or www.brandonlibrary.org

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