4500 East Grand Lake Road | PO Box 208 | Presque Isle, Michigan 49777 | GPS: 45 21.395 N | 083 29.532 W
989.787.0814 (Presque Isle Township Museum Society year round) 989.595.9917 (Gift Shop and 1905 Keeper's House--late May to mid-October, during open hours) Tour Operators: call 989.595.2752(Presque Isle Township Hall) for reservations.
Lighthouses, Northeastern Lower Michigan, and Presque Isle:
This page provides background information on lighthouses in general, Northeastern Lower Michigan, and Presque Isle. If you wish, skip to other pages in this section for discussions of the Old and New Lights, Fresnel Lens, Keeper’s House Museum, and Range Light.
The First Lamps are Lighted
Our two Lighthouses at Presque Isle, Michigan, trace their “family tree” back more than 2,000 years.
Lighthouses have protected and guided sailors at least since 280 BCE (Before the Common Era, or BC) when the famed light at Alexandria, Egypt, was first kindled. Called Pharos after the island on which it was built, this tower gave its name to the study of lighthouses (pharology) and is the origin of the word for lighthouse in French (phare) and several other languages.
Considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the approximately 400-foot-tall lighthouse marked the entry to Alexandria’s port. Although damaged by earthquakes after 956 CE (Common Era, or AD), Pharos was still operating in 1115. Then, by 1480, just a dozen years before Columbus sailed for the New World, Pharos had vanished. Its stones had been taken for other building projects.
Yet good ideas live on. Pharos’ light was carried to shores and riverbanks across the world. In Roman England, medieval Ireland and Spain, Song Dynasty China, and many other places lighthouses were built as aids for those navigating seacoasts and inland waterways.
America’s first lighthouse was constructed at St. Augustine, Florida, around 1586. Boston Light on the Massachusetts coast followed in 1716. North America’s oldest existing lighthouse is Sambro Island Light at Halifax, Nova Scotia, built in 1758. Erected six years later in 1764, the Sandy Hook Lighthouse in New Jersey has been operating for two and a half centuries.
The lighthouse ranks high on any list of history’s top technological developments. Before the advent of the lighthouse, a sailor in unfamiliar waters traveled blind, unaware of danger just below his keel, and uncertain how to enter safe harbor to avoid a threat. Today, with radar and GPS units readily available, the lighthouse may seem archaic and unnecessary. But think — has your computer ever crashed? Even the most advanced technology may fail, and a light in the dark can still save lives.
Native American Trade Activity
Native Americans occupied Southern Michigan about 12,000 years ago, but archaeologists believe that Northeastern Lower Michigan was settled only about 1500 BCE. The region’s original inhabitants were nomadic hunter-gatherers, following their food sources as the seasons dictated. In time, fishing became an important part of the original peoples’ diet. Favored fishing methods included hook and line, net, spear, and use of the weir (a wood stake enclosure designed to trap fish swimming upstream). Evidence suggests that the Anishinaabe tribes (Odawa and Ojibway) encamped in the fall near the mouth of the Ocqueoc River, north of what is now Rogers City, to fish and gather berries.
Trade on the Great Lakes began long before arrival of Europeans. During the Mississippian cultural period (800-1500 CE) Native Americans maintained a system of long-distance trade throughout and well beyond the Great Lakes. For example, Cahokia was an archaic urban center in Illinois. Some researchers believe it boasted a larger population than most European cities at that time. Archaeologists find evidence that Cahokia served as a central marketplace where one could shop for exotic shells from the Gulf of Mexico, stones for making arrowheads from many regions, hoes and other finished goods from Illinois, and copper from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. All of these areas were accessible by river or lake. Cahokia declined and vanished after 1200 CE, but trade on the Great Lakes continued.
By the time Europeans appeared on the scene, Native Americans had centuries of experience traveling our great inland seas to make war, exploit the region’s resources, and conduct trade. Use of heavy dugout canoes had declined, and European traders found their Native American “customers” piloting lighter bark vessels along the lakeshore. Presque Isle Peninsula would have been a familiar landmark for both first peoples and newcomers, and the portage at its south end a well known shortcut.
Arrival of Europeans
Traffic on Lake Huron began to increase in the early 17th century with the start of European exploration. Jean Nicolet, a French-Canadian, explored the northern Lake Huron region in 1634. Nicolet was a coureur des bois, or “runner in the woods.” The coureur des bois traded for pelts, principally beaver, with Native American tribes in the uncharted wilderness to the north and west of Montreal. These early businessman-explorers packed their birch bark canoes with trade goods and set out on arduous journeys which lasted many months, involved great risk, and often proved fatal.
Nicolet likely passed through this area on his way to the Straits of Mackinac. He was followed 35 years later by Jesuit priest Claude Dablon, who in 1670 established a mission to the native peoples on Mackinac Island. Dablon was followed in 1671 by Jesuit missionary and explorer Jacques Marquette.
Pere (or Father) Marquette moved Dablon’s mission to what is now St. Ignace. His work there helped make the Straits a major focus of the French fur trade. Demand for beaver fur was strong in France, where it was made into felt for warm, stylish hats. Almost from the start, key political figures were given fur monopolies in New France, as French North America was called. These companies hired canoe teams, known as voyageurs (French for travelers), to take trade goods into the wilderness and return with dressed pelts. As independent businessmen unwilling to be pushed aside, the coureur des bois maintained a black market in fur, which made their work even more challenging.
The English also got into the fur trade, for they, too, shared the frenzy for felt hats. Early settlers soon realized that they could more quickly repay their backers in London by shipping pelts to the mother country. Fur trade, along with territorial ambition, soon brought France and England into conflict in the New World. It should be noted, too, that the European trade practices exploited Native Americans. Traders would sell them liquor, make unfair deals when the indigenous peoples were drunk, and then demand land concessions to satisfy native debts. The resentment this caused led to increasing tension and, in time, the French and Indian War.
However, decades of intense hunting had made beaver increasingly scarce by the early 19th century. At the same time, demand for pelts waned as European taste in hats changed. (Think leisure suit and you will get the picture.) But as the fur trade faded away, new opportunities in the western wilderness were emerging.
The Straits Change Hands
France’s ambitions in North America foundered in the French and Indian War of 1754-63. This conflict pitted France and her Native American allies against Britain and her colonies, and set off the Seven Years’ War in Europe. It also gave key Americans, such as George Washington, combat experience which would prove useful a few years later in the American Revolution. In the Treaty of 1763, which ended the French and Indian War, France ceded most of New France to Britain.
Michillimackinac (soon abbreviated Mackinac) was the key to travel and commerce on the Upper Great Lakes. The Straits of Mackinac connected Lakes Huron, Erie, and Ontario with Lakes Superior and Michigan, as well as the lands to which they gave access. Britain held onto this region as long as she could.
To anchor their control, and protect themselves against attack by French-Canadians and their native friends, the English built Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island. This stronghold was never attacked during the American Revolution. The entire area was claimed by the Americans in the Treaty of Paris of 1783, which ended the Revolutionary War, but the English refused to budge.
Jay’s Treaty of 1794 established U.S. control over the Northwest Territory. The British relinquished Mackinac Island, but stayed in the region. When war broke out in 1812 between the U.S. and Britain, two battles were fought at Mackinac Island. American forces lost the island in the first battle, and failed to retake it in the second. Neither engagement seems to have directly involved Presque Isle.
However, Presque Isle’s future was forever changed in 1815 by the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812. This pact finally gave the U.S. undisputed control of the Northwest Territory along with dominance over the Straits of Mackinac. With Britain out of the way, American migration quickly turned from trickle to flood.
The Lumber Era
With the launch of the steamboat Ontario in 1817, American steam-driven vessels began operating on the Great Lakes. During the decades prior to the Civil War, both commercial and passenger steamboat traffic on the Great Lakes increased dramatically. It was a chancy form of transportation. Wooden steamboats had a nasty habit of burning up or blowing up, and like sailing ships they could fall prey to storms or fog. And, of course, steam-driven vessels needed fuel.
Presque Isle’s first European residents were Lemuel Crawford and his family, who by 1840 were operating a “wooding station” to supply fuel to passing steamers. This facility — located on what is now called Crystal Point, the south arm of Presque Isle Bay — reportedly consisted of a dock, store, dwelling, log barn, and several log shanties. Hailing from Cleveland, Crawford apparently cut wood along the Huron shore and then dragged the logs to the Harbor by means of paths along Lake Esau and Grand Lake. Here the wood was sold to ships which pulled into Crawford’s dock to take on fuel, just as we now buy fuel at a gas station.
Michigan’s forests offered more than fuel for steamboats. By 1840, the year the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse was built, it was clear that Maine and New York, traditional sources of white pine, could not satisfy the nation’s growing demand for construction lumber. Michigan was the next area to the west in the “white pine belt.” America’s need for lumber would create Michigan’s first major industry.
As Maria Quinlan notes in her article, Lumbering in Michigan, “The production of Michigan lumber increased dramatically during the middle decades of the nineteenth century. The Saginaw Valley was the leading lumbering area between 1840 and 1860, when the number of mills in operation throughout the state doubled, and the value of their products increased from $1 million to $6 million annually. Rapid growth continued, and by 1869 the Saginaw Valley alone was earning more than $7 million yearly.” By 1869 Michigan was producing more lumber than any other state in the Union. Much of the Midwest was built with Michigan wood.
Loggers literally cut their way into the interior of both peninsulas. Lumberjacks worked through the winter cutting trees. In spring the state’s system of rivers and streams, swollen by meltwater, provided a convenient way to get the logs to the mills where they would be cut into construction lumber and shipped where needed.
A few Michiganders made fortunes in the lumber industry. These “lumber barons” built large homes and lived in luxury. However, the majority of those employed in the lumber industry worked long hours for low pay. “Lumberjacks, most often single men in their twenties, spent the winter in the woods, working from dawn to dusk six days a week, cutting, hauling, and piling logs. They were usually paid between $20 and $26 per month and were also provided room and board. Those who stayed on in the spring as river drivers received higher wages due to the grueling nature and the very real dangers of their job,” writes Maria Quinlan. Work in Michigan’s forests attracted many immigrants, especially those from Scandinavia.
When loggers cut over an area and then moved on, they left behind a landscape littered with stumps and branches. This cutover land was marketed as “cleared farm land” and attracted farmers from the East. However, with the forest gone, soil erosion reduced the land’s fertility. In addition, dried vegetation and forest debris (commonly called slash) became a fire hazard. Northern Michigan suffered a series of wildfires, including the Great Michigan Fire in October 1871 (possibly fanned by the same winds that drove the Great Chicago Fire) and fires in the Upper Peninsula and Thumb in 1881. The most serious fire to hit our area, the Metz Fire of October 15, 1908, burned from central Presque Isle County to Lake Huron. At least 16 men, women, and children were killed, and dozens more were badly burned.
Cutover land abandoned by logging companies went back to the State for taxes. In time these parcels were assembled to form Michigan’s state forest system. Michigan gradually became a leader in forest management and natural resource conservation.
The Limestone Industry
About 345 million years ago Michigan was covered by a succession of warm, shallow seas. Sediments which accumulated on the bottom of these seas during the late Devonian and early Missippian periods eventually became the limestone formations which make up the bedrock of Northeastern Lower Michigan. Limestone formations are typically named after towns where they are found. For example, Dundee Limestone is found near the town of Dundee in Southeastern Michigan. Rogers City Limestone is found at Rogers City and Presque Isle.
Limestone is economically important. High grade limestone produced at the Calcite Quarry at Rogers City is used as a flux in the manufacture of steel and chemicals. Flux is a material added to a furnace to lower the melting temperature of other materials.
The Old Presque Isle Lighthouse was built in 1840, across Presque Isle Bay from the Crawford wooding station on Crystal Point (see above). In 1861 the Crawford family moved their wooding station 14 miles north to a place that came to be called Crawford’s Quarry. As Mark Thompson writes in Presque Isle County, part of the Images of America series, “A large outcropping of limestone rock dominated the parcel of land owned by the Crawfords, and they thought it could be mined for use in construction. The rock proved to be too soft and too fractured for building purposes, but a small amount of it was quarried for other uses.” In time those “other uses” would attract the attention of geologists and businessmen.
As noted above, lumbering dominated this part of Michigan during the latter decades of the 19th century. However, by 1900 the old growth forest had been cut and logging companies moved their operations to Wisconsin, Minnesota, and eventually to the West Coast. The economic outlook for Presque Isle County looked bleak. Then, in 1910 the Michigan Limestone & 5 Chemical Co. announced that they would open a quarry and processing plant on a 5,000 acre parcel purchased around Crawford’s Quarry.
The plant opened in 1912. Calcite produced a very high grade of limestone which could be shipped via lake freighter. Most of this stone went to steel mills. In fact, in 1920 U.S. Steel purchased Michigan Limestone & Chemical Co. As Mark Thompson observes, “By that time, the Calcite Plant was the world’s largest producer of limestone, shipping more than six million tons a year, much of it on large self-unloading freighters in the company’s Bradley transportation fleet. At its peak in 1953, the sprawling quarry produced more than 16 million tons of stone.”
A smaller quarry operation, currently owned by the Lafarge Corp., operates south of Lake Esau, just a couple miles from the Lighthouses at Presque Isle.
Market changes, such as the decline of the American steel industry, and increased competition have impacted the Calcite operation. By 2011 total shipments fell to about 6 million tons, roughly what the quarry produced 90 years earlier. Still, Calcite remains the world’s largest limestone quarry and one of this area’s largest employers.
Location: 5295 East Grand Lake Road Presque Isle, Michigan 49777
The Old Lighthouse, Briefly
The Old Lighthouse at Presque Isle, Michigan, was built to mark the entrance to Presque Isle Bay and its Harbor. During the quarter-century after the War of 1812, increasing ship traffic to and past Presque Isle led Congress in 1838 to appropriate funds for a lighthouse. It was built two years later and today is one of the oldest surviving lights on the Great Lakes.
The Old Light’s tower — 30 feet tall and 18 feet in diameter at the base — consists of a conical section (the bottom two-thirds) made of stone, with a round brick section above. The deck is made of soapstone with leaded mortar. The original lantern room and light apparatus no longer exist. A new lantern room was built in the 1960s to house a Fresnel lens acquired from another lighthouse. By the late 1930s the two-story Keeper’s House, also built in 1840, was structurally unsound and had to be replaced. A new building, consisting of one story with a loft, was erected on the original foundation.
The Old Light is located just north of the State Harbor, which is considered one of the best harbors of refuge on Lake Huron. This facility is owned by Presque Isle Township and operated as a park and museum by the Presque Isle Township Museum Society. Visitors may climb the tower for a modest fee. Please note that tower climb income helps maintain the facility and is greatly appreciated. See our Home Page for days and hours when the Old Light is open to visitors.
Oh, yes — there are persistent rumors that the Old Lighthouse is haunted. We place no great stock in these tales. However, many people say that curious things happen at the Old Light...
When You Visit
When you visit, you will find Presque Isle’s Old Lighthouse (1840) sitting on the north arm of Presque Isle Bay, opposite Crystal Point, the Bay’s south arm. The Bay — with its harbor of refuge and marina, operated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources — is located at the south end of Presque Isle Peninsula, at the place called The Portage. Native American, and in time European, travelers used this little neck of land to avoid paddling around the peninsula.
Patrick Garrity Sr, Presque Isle’s longest-serving lighthouse keeper, greets you as you enter. In August 2012 Presque Isle Township dedicated a statue of Patrick, Keeper of the Old Light from 1861-70, and then of the New Light from 1870-1903. His wife and four of their children also served as lighthouse keepers. According to Coast Guard records, the Garrity family’s years of service, taken together, make them the second longest serving keeper family in U.S. history. Patrick’s statue — created in high carbon steel at Moran Iron Works in Onaway, Michigan, by sculptor Dawn Barr of Cheboygan — honors not only Patrick’s service, but also the dedication of all Great Lakes lighthouse keepers.
The lighthouse sits near the water with its detached Keeper’s House directly behind. You may climb the tower, weather permitting. A circular staircase of well worn stone takes you up to the lantern room where a Fourth Order Fresnel Lens is in place. This perch affords a lovely view of Presque Isle Bay, the Harbor, North Bay, and Huron’s rocky shoreline.
Close by the lighthouse tower is the bell which once hung in the clock tower of Old City Hall at Lansing, Michigan’s capital. When the hall was demolished, Francis Stebbins acquired this piece of Michigan history and brought it to the Sunrise Shore. The bell weighs 3,425 pounds, making it considerably larger than Philadelphia’s 2,080 pound Liberty Bell. You may ring the bell, which can be heard at quite a distance. Nearby, a set of stocks— the kind used for punishment, not investment! — offers an unusual here’s-what-I-did-last-summer “photo op.”
The Keeper’s House serves as a visitor center, museum, and gift shop. The docent on duty will be happy to discuss the park’s history, and to point out the many artifacts on display. The exhibit is changed periodically for the benefit of repeat visitors. Prominent among these artifacts are photographs of the Old Lighthouse and its Keeper’s House from the 1930s when the property was more or less a wreck.
The Old Lighthouse Park is a splendid spot for a picnic lunch or an hour with a good book. On sunny days you can sit next to the tower and watch freighters making their way up- or downlake. These boats will be headed for the limestone quarry just south of the Harbor, or the quarry at Rogers City (the world’s largest), or cities from Chicago to Duluth. •••
A History of the 1840 Lighthouse
On July 5, 1838, the year after Michigan gained statehood, Congress appropriated $5,000 for construction of a lighthouse at Presque Isle. An advertisement inviting proposals for this project ran in the Detroit newspapers on July 10, 1839. Sixteen days later Abraham Wendell, U.S. Superintendent of Lighthouses for this district, and Jeremiah Moors, a Detroit architect and builder, signed an agreement to “build and complete in all respects agreeable to the specifications [for a lighthouse] contained in said advertisement for proposals for the sum of $5,000.00.”
In the late summer of 1839 A.E. Hathon surveyed the Lighthouse Reservation at Presque Isle. Later surveys would show that the point opposite the lighthouse property, now called Crystal Point, was the center of harbor activity during this period. On September 4, 1840, John Scott certified that construction of the lighthouse had been completed according to contract. On September 23 Henry Woolsey was appointed first Keeper, with his annual salary set at $350.
Woolsey served until his death sometime in 1847. He was succeeded by George Murray (1847-48), Stephen V. Thornton (1848-53), and Louis J. Metivier (1853-61). On July 15, 1861, upon being commissioned by President Abraham Lincoln, Patrick Garrity Sr. took up his duties, becoming the Old Light’s fifth and last Keeper.
By 1868, less than 30 years after construction, the original Keeper’s House was rapidly deteriorating. Plans to renovate the dwelling and attach it to the tower were drawn up. It is possible that the $7,500 price tag for this project helped trigger reassessment of the Light’s suitability as an aid to navigation. In July 1870 Congress appropriated an additional $28,000 for construction of a new, taller lighthouse at the north end of Presque Isle Peninsula.
In February 1871 notice was given to mariners that the new Presque Isle Lighthouse would go into service for that year’s shipping season. Patrick Garrity Sr. and his family moved up the road to the New Light, where he would serve for an additional 30 years. Mary, Patrick’s wife, served as Assistant Keeper, and in time four of their children also took up the profession.
With the 1840 Light extinguished, a Range Light was constructed in 1870 to safely guide mariners into Presque Isle Harbor. In 1903 Anna Garrity, daughter of Mary and Patrick, would become Keeper of the Range Light at Presque Isle Harbor, making her one of a small, select group of female keepers on the Great Lakes. A statue of Anna has been erected at the Range Light to honor her service.
After being decommissioned, the Old Lighthouse seems to have languished in disuse for over a quarter century. In 1897 it was sold to E.O. Avery, the highest bidder. Later it was owned briefly by General Duffield, and then sold to Bliss Stebbins. In 1930 Bliss Stebbins sold the property to Francis B. Stebbins. In the late 1930s Francis demolished the original Keeper’s House and built a new dwelling on the original foundation. At his death in 1969 the property was inherited by his son James Stebbins.
Over the years the original lantern room was dismantled or destroyed. In photos from that time the tower looks like the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow fame! As the U.S. Coast Guard automated its lighthouses, many unwanted lenses were either destroyed or sold. In 1961 Francis Stebbins purchased a surplus Fourth Order Fresnel lens, most likely from the South Fox Island Lighthouse on Lake Michigan. To house this artifact he commissioned Fred May, a Grand Lake resident, to construct a new lantern room. This structure was hoisted into place atop the 1840 tower and the horseman was no longer headless!
On November 14, 1964, the Old Light was listed on the Michigan Register of Historic Places, and a state historical marker was dedicated on June 19, 1965 (Site No. P24577). On April 11, 1973, the 1840 Lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (Ref. No. 73000957). In 1995, with funding provided by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and several private donors, the property was purchased by Presque Isle Township for use as a park and museum. The non-profit Presque Isle Township Museum Society operates the Old Lighthouse on behalf of the Township.
The U.S. Flag has 26 Stars.
Martin Van Buren is President.
Jan. 4 — Stevens T. Mason — Michigan’s “Boy Governor” elected in 1835 at age 23 — leaves office.
Jan. 19 — U.S. Naval officer and explorer Charles Wilkes discovers Antarctica.
Feb. 10 — Queen Victoria of England marries Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg-Gothe.
Jun. 20 — Samuel Morse patents his telegraph.
Summer of 1840 — Douglass Houghton, Michigan geologist, finds copper in the Keweenaw Peninsula and sets off the first great mining boom in U.S. history.
Location: 4500 East Grand Lake Road, Presque Isle, Michigan 49777
The New Lighthouse, Briefly
By 1868 the Keeper’s House for the lighthouse at Presque Isle Harbor was in such dire need of repair that plans for renovation were drawn up. The estimated cost was $7,500. But these plans were shelved. Instead, the U.S. Lighthouse Service decided to build a new light at the tip of Presque Isle Peninsula. In July 1870 Congress appropriated an additional $28,000 which, with the $7,500 already earmarked, was sufficient to cover the cost of this $35,500 project.
Construction of the tower and keeper’s house was completed in time for the New Light to go into service for the 1871 shipping season. More than 140 years later the New Lighthouse remains an active aid to navigation.
This 113-foot-tall lighthouse has a diameter of 19 feet 3 inches at ground level and 12 feet 4 inches at the parapet. The lighthouse was designed by Army Engineer Orlando M. Poe. This lighthouse became the model for seven other “Poe Lights” on the Great Lakes (ours is the only one on Lake Huron). His signature is seen in the four windows evenly spaced below the lantern room, and in the handsome and functional wrought iron brackets supporting the gallery.
A Third Order Fresnel Lens surmounted the tower for over 130 years and could be seen more than 25 miles out in Lake Huron. The restored lens is now on exhibit in the original (1870) Keeper’s House.
Installation of a steam-operated fog horn in 1890 increased the number of people working at the Light Station. To house additional personnel, a second, detached Keeper’s House was built in 1905 close by the tower. It now serves as a museum.
When You Visit
When you visit, you will find the Presque Isle Light Station situated at the north end of Presque Isle Peninsula, one mile beyond the Harbor and its Old Lighthouse. This 99-acre facility is owned by Presque Isle Township and operated as a park and museum by the Presque Isle Township Museum Society, a private, non-profit historical society.
Presque Isle’s New Light is open to the public from spring until fall. See our Home Page for days and hours of operation. Weather permitting, adults and children 42 inches or taller in height may climb the tower. Children under age 12 must be accompanied by an adult, and must meet the 42-inch height requirement. Revenue from tower climbs and operation of the Gift Shop is used to maintain the Lighthouses at Presque Isle and is greatly appreciated. Please note that ours is the tallest lighthouse on the Great Lakes which can be climbed by the public.
The view from the tower is spectacular. On a clear day you can see northeast across Lake Huron to Great Duck Island, which sits off Manitoulin Island which, in turn, forms the north side of Canada’s Georgian Bay. To the south you can see the limestone quarry beyond Lake Esau and the Rockport docks where massive lake freighters put in to be loaded. To the west you can see deep into Presque Isle County.
The original (1870) Keeper’s House now serves as a visitor center, museum, and Gift Shop. Access to the tower is through the Gift Shop. A special attraction here is the Third Order Fresnel (pronounced fra-NELL) Lens. This lens was removed from the tower in 2003, held in storage for nearly a decade, and then restored and put on display in 2012. It is truly an engineering marvel!
The new Keeper’s House, built in 1905, sits nearby and is operated as a museum. Skillfully restored in the 1990s by volunteers of the Presque Isle Township Museum Society, the 1905 House preserves the original interior finish — including, for example, floors of birds-eye maple! — and is decorated with artifacts dating to about 1915. By touring the 1905 House you can better see how the Keeper lived. Greeters are available to explain the home’s history, renovation, and furnishings.
Garrity Hall, named for first Keeper Patrick Garrity and his family, is used for township events. At the north end of the peninsula, where the fog horn was once located, you will find a large picnic shelter which affords an excellent view of Lake Huron. Another side road from the lighthouse leads to North Bay, the body of water just across the Portage. This is an especially good place to watch the sunset.
A History of the 1870 Lighthouse
In the years after the Civil War commercial traffic on Lake Huron and the other upper Great Lakes increased exponentially. The safety of both crew and cargo on vessels plying the lakes made improved aids to navigation a priority. This trend, plus deterioration of the lighthouse facility at the Harbor, led to a decision to build a new coastal lighthouse at the north end of Presque Isle Peninsula.
In July 1870 Brig. Gen. Orlando Metcalfe Poe outlined plans for Presque Isle’s new lighthouse. Few men have had greater impact on the Great Lakes. A West Point graduate, Poe became topographical engineer for the survey of the Upper Great Lakes. Early in the Civil War, after helping Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan organize the defense of Washington, D.C., Poe was given command of the 2nd Michigan Volunteer Infantry. In 1863 he was instrumental in defending Knoxville, Tennessee, against a Confederate siege. The following year Gen. William T. Sherman selected Poe as his chief engineer. He served in this position during Sherman’s March to the Sea.
In 1865 he was appointed chief engineer of the U.S. Lighthouse Board, and in 1870 he was made Chief Engineer of the 11th Lighthouse District (Upper Great Lakes). In this role he designed eight “Poe Style” lighthouses, of which the New Lighthouse at Presque Isle is the first. In 1883 he served as Superintending Engineer for the improvement of harbors and waterways on Lakes Huron and Superior. In this capacity he assisted in development of the St. Marys Falls Canal and, in what would be his greatest achievement, he designed and built the first Poe Lock as part of the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie. This engineering feat allowed access to the Upper Great Lakes by steel-hulled freighters and, in turn, made possible America’s modern steel industry.
With respect to Presque Isle, in July 1870 Gen. Poe outlined plans for Presque Isle’s new lighthouse. He provided an estimate “...amounting to $35,494.52 for lighthouse and keepers dwelling [at Presque Isle]... Previously an appropriation for re-building the keepers dwelling [at the 1840 site] amounted to $7,500 — out of that appropriation, the brick required for the new structure, has been purchased and delivered upon the ground... Additional appropriation for this project is now pending before Congress amounting to $28,000.00 + 7,500.00 = $35,500.00
“The estimate submitted covers the cost of the building, but not the Fresnel lens,” Poe concluded.
Congress acted that same month, allocating the additional $28,000 to construct the New Light. Poe quickly requested “The Steam Barge Mannington to tow 2 scows to bring everything requested for construction.” The work moved forward at a brisk pace, and the new light was lit at the start of the 1871 shipping season. Moreover, the project came in under budget. On August 21, 1871, Poe returned $700.35, the unexpended balance of the congressional appropriation.
Poe’s design is practical, durable, and uncommonly graceful. The New Light rises 113 feet from the base to the ventilator ball atop the Lantern Room. The tower sits on a limestone foundation 9 feet 8 inches below ground level. The conical structure is 19 feet 3 inches in diameter at the bottom, and 12 feet 4 inches in diameter at the parapet. This is a double-walled tower. At the base there is an outer wall 24 inches thick, a 31-inch air space, and an inner wall 8 inches thick. At the parapet the outer wall is 16 inches thick, the inner wall is 8 inches thick, and the two are separated by a 4-inch air space.
The wall is surmounted by a round iron watch room and a ten-sided cast iron lantern room. Here the Third Order Fresnel Lens was located, providing a focal plane of 123 feet above the mean low water level of Lake Huron. Its light could be seen up to 25 miles out in Lake Huron. The tower has eight windows. Four of these windows, pleasingly arched and evenly spaced immediately below the lantern room, are an element common to all the lighthouses which copied Poe’s Presque Isle design. A second common trait are the handsome but functional wrought iron brackets (corbels) which support the gallery and catwalk.
There are eight Poe lights. Presque Isle (1870) was the first built and the only one on Lake Huron. Lake Michigan boasts five — Michigan’s 104-foot South Manitou Island Light (1871), Michigan’s 107-foot Little Sable Light (1874), Illinois’ 113-foot Grosse Point Light (also built in 1874), Wisconsin’s 108-foot Wind Point Light (1880), and Michigan’s 78-foot Seul Choix Light (1895). The two remaining Poe lights are on Lake Superior. The 87-foot Au Sable Light (1874) is situated in Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, while the 86-foot Outer Island Light (also built in 1874) is located in Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
Those who wish to climb the tower may do so, weather permitting. It’s quite an adventure. The spiral iron stairway with pipe railing includes 138 steps. This is the tallest lighthouse on the Great Lakes which is open for the public to climb. The New Light is the place to earn your “I climbed...” t-shirt!
A two-story Keeper’s House, vintage 1870, is attached to the tower by a 16-foot enclosed walkway. Measuring 24x28 feet, this structure housed all lighthouse personnel, including families with children, for 34 years. Overcrowding led to construction of the 1905 Keeper’s House. During the period from 1940-52 both dwellings were modernized with the addition of electrical service and indoor plumbing.
The original Keeper’s House is now home to our Gift Shop and provides access to the tower. It also furnishes display space for the Fresnel Lens. Invented in France by Augustin Jean Fresnel (pronounced fra-NELL), these lenses were used in the U.S. starting in the 1840s. The “order” (first through sixth) describes the power of the lens. The New Light’s Third Order lens was removed from the tower in 2003, kept in storage for nearly a decade, and then renovated and placed on display in 2012. It is a wonder to behold!
At the beginning, an oil-fired lamp supplied the light at the top of the tower. The keeper had to carry oil up the stairs each day, and trim the lamp’s wick. (Lighthouse keepers were known as “Wickies”.) In 1871 a brick oil house was built to maintain the Station’s fuel supply. It was demolished in 1961. In 1898 an existing tramway was extended 120 feet to the boat landing on the Peninsula’s point. Used to move supplies from shore to storage, this little “railroad” was rebuilt in 1900 and remained in service until replaced with driveways in the late 1930s. A cistern house, which supplied water to the buildings, was built in 1898 and demolished 60 years later in 1958.
In 1890 a steam-operated fog signal, manufactured by Variety Iron Works of Cleveland, Ohio, was installed on the Peninsula’s point, where the picnic pavilion now stands. This fog horn required wood for fuel, and additional personnel to supply firewood and tend the boiler. About 1903 an Assistant Keeper was hired, mainly because of the fog signal, at a cost of $5,000 per year. Use of the signal was eventually discontinued. In 1968 the building housing the horn was demolished and, most unfortunately, the horn was stolen.
In 1960 a five-bay garage with workshop and office was built to replace a small log barn dating to 1870. This eventually became Garrity Hall. Named for Presque Isle’s legendary Keeper, the Hall contains a meeting room, kitchen, bathrooms and storage. It is used primarily for Township events and a place to greet groups touring The Lighthouses at Presque Isle.
When electrical lights replaced oil-fired lamps, and the fog signal was decommissioned, the number of personnel manning the Presque Isle Light Station was greatly reduced. Keepers now lived in the 1905 House. In 1939 the U.S. Coast Guard took over operation of the New Light and the Station became a USCG facility. Elmer C. Byrnes was the Keeper (1935-54) who made the transition from a civilian lighthouse service to the Coast Guard. After his retirement, USCG personnel served as keepers and maintained the 1905 House as their barracks. That meant lots of paint!
The Coast Guard automated the New Lighthouse in 1970 and thus eliminated the need for on-site keepers; periodic inspection was deemed sufficient, and continues to the present day. Three years later the grounds and structures were leased to Presque Isle Township for use as a park, and soon thereafter the Presque Isle Township Museum Society was organized to transform the 1905 Keeper’s House into a working museum.
The tower brickwork was restored in 1988-89 at a cost of $99,000. On July 6, 1991 a State Historical Marker for the Presque Isle Light Station was formally dedicated (No. L1563). On June 16, 1998, the Light Station’s 99-acre parcel and structures were conveyed to Presque Isle Township for use as a park. The USCG continues to own the Fresnel Lens.
The U.S. Flag has 37 stars.
Ulysses S. Grant is President.
Jan. 3 — Construction begins on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Jan. 25 — Gustavus Dows patents the first soda fountain.
Feb. 5 — The first motion picture is shown in a Philadelphia theater.
Mar. 30 — The 15th Amendment, guaranteeing African-Americans the right to vote, becomes law.
April 2 — Victoria Woodhull is the first woman nominated for President.
Jun. 26 — Christmas is declared a federal holiday.
Sep. 18 — Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Geyser is named by Henry D. Washburn.
Oct. 21 — Postcards are first used in the U.S.
Nov. 27 — A New York Times story christens baseball “The National Game.”
Location: 4500 East Grand Lake Road, Presque Isle, Michigan 49777
The Fresnel Lens, Briefly
The Fresnel (pronounced Fra-NELL, or Fray-NELL) Lens was invented by Augustin-Jean Fresnel in 1822. An engineering marvel, it uses an array of glass prisms and a bullʼs-eye lens to focus light into a narrow beam visible at a distance of several miles. By the Civil War his lens had become the standard illumination device in nearly all American lighthouses.
When You Visit Presque Isleʼs Third Order Fresnel Lens was removed from the New Lighthouse tower in 2003 and held in storage for nearly a decade. In 2012, at considerable cost, the lens was restored and placed on display in the entrance to the New Lightʼs Gift Shop, located in the 1870 Keeperʼs House. The display is similar to a lighthouseʼs lantern room and gives you (literally!) a birdʼs-eye view of this remarkable artifact. A small light burning inside the lens makes clear how successfully this lens concentrated and “threw” its light.
This is a must-see stop for visitors to Presque Isle. The display is open on the same schedule as the New Lighthouse. See our web siteʼs home page for days and hours of operation.
A History of the Fresnel Lens French engineer and physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel was born at Broglie, in northern France, on May 10, 1788. As a child he appeared to be a slow learner. Indeed, at age 8 he still could not read. But before long his scientific brilliance became apparent.
Fresnel was educated at the Ecole polytechnique near Paris, and then studied at the Corps des Ponts et Chaussees, the worldʼs oldest civil engineering school. As a supporter of the Bourbon monarchy, he temporarily lost his engineering post during the Emperor Napoleonʼs return from Elba in 1814. When the monarchy was restored he obtained an engineering position at Paris and held that job for the rest of his life.
About 1814 he began work in optics and helped develop the wave theory of light. In 1822 he invented the lens which bears his name — widely regarded as the most significant breakthrough in lighthouse illumination since Pharos, the famous lighthouse at Alexandria.
For a lighthouse to be useful, it has to throw its light over a distance of several miles. Single lights, as well as lights with reflectors, proved inefficient because so much of their light was lost. A double convex lens (similar to a magnifying glass) could produce an appropriate focal length (the distance between the lens and the point at which the light converges), but the size and weight of such a lens made it impractical for lighthouse use. Fresnel reasoned that it was the curvature of the lens which provided the focusing power. He reproduced the curvature in segments, maintaining the desired focal length with just a fraction of the weight.
It was a brilliant technological advance and, in time, made Fresnelʼs name almost synonymous with lighthouses. Unfortunately, the inventor did not live to see his lens adopted across the globe. Fresnel died of tuberculosis on July 14, 1827, at Ville-dʼAvray, France. He was just 39 years old.
Fresnel received little recognition during his lifetime for his contributions to science. However, six decades after his death he was included in the list of 72 French scientists, engineers, and mathematicians whose names were engraved on the Eiffel Tower as an enduring tribute to their work.
The Fresnel lens used in a lighthouse looks like a big glass beehive. The larger lenses could be up to 12 feet tall. Concentric rings of glass prisms — steeper at the edges, flatter toward the center — are arranged above and below a central panel of bulls eye magnifying glasses. These are supported by a brass framework. The prisms bend the light into a narrow beam which captures up to 83% of the light, and the bulls eye panel throws the light out toward the horizon. The lensʼ efficiency allows the beam to be cast 20 miles or more.
Fresnel lenses are normally ranked in seven orders of power. The weakest (Sixth Order) was suitable for lakes and harbors, while the largest (First Order) was favored for fogbound seacoasts. The latter could weigh up to three tons! A lens ranked 3.5 was developed for use primarily on the Great Lakes.
Fresnel lenses were initially regarded with suspicion in America. Stephen Pleasonton is justly remembered for saving the Declaration of Independence from being burned by the British during the War of 1812. In 1820 he was placed in charge of the Treasury Departmentʼs Lighthouse Establishment. He was a sober administrator, always reluctant to spend the publicʼs money. Pleasonton considered the cost of the new Fresnel lenses prohibitive and refused to order them. However, mariners who experienced Fresnel-equipped lighthouses in Europe came home to complain about the weak lights displayed by U.S. lighthouses.
In 1838 Congress launched an investigation and imported a few of these new lenses for experimental use. The first was installed in 1841 at the Navesink Lighthouse overlooking the approach to New York Harbor. In 1852 the Lighthouse Establishment was dissolved, ending Pleasontonʼs reign over U.S. lighthouses. The new United States Lighthouse Board approved use of Fresnel lenses, cost notwithstanding. By the Civil War nearly all American lighthouses had been equipped with them.
Fresnel lenses were widely used in lighthouses until the mid-20th century, when they were replaced with beacons. However, the most widespread use of Fresnelʼs invention, at least for a period of time, was in automobile headlamps! The Fresnel system is still used for auto taillights. Flexible plastic sheet-type Fresnel lenses are used for reading small print in books and may be purchased on Amazon!
Location: East Grand Lake Road north of 638 Highway, Presque Isle, Michigan 49777
The Range Light, Briefly
When the Old (1840) Lighthouse went dark, its function of safely guiding mariners into Presque Isle Harbor was taken over by the Range Light. These two beacons put mariners in the channel leading into the harbor, avoiding the shallows to either side. After more than 140 years the Range Light remains an active aid to navigation. The site is now a park owned and operated by Presque Isle Township.
When You Visit
Range Light Park is located on east Grand Lake Road, two-tenths of a mile north of the intersection with Highway 638. The park is open dawn to dusk throughout the year.
Park your car in the lot across the road from Range Light Park. At the back of the parking area is the Rear Light atop a tall steel tower. The old fuel storage building is nearby. Behind the fence is the old keeper's residence which is now a private home.
Now you can cross E. Grand Lake Road to the Park. Warning! This is a 55 mph highway. Please watch for vehicles as you cross the street. Do not assume that drivers will slow down for the pedestrian crossing.
Close to the road you will find the original 1870 Front Range Light tower, and near it a statue of Anna Garrity who served as Keeper for more than two decades. The burial site of Adeline Sims, wife of Keeper William Sims, is across the service drive.
A short walkway leads to the beach on Presque Isle Bay. This stretch of sandy shoreline, rare on rocky Lake Huron, is a fine place to swim or relax. The harbor view is excellent. Picnic tables, grills, and portable toilets are located nearby. Kindly respect the private properties on either side of the park.
Plans for Range Light Park include construction of a wider walkway and a picnic shelter, both accessible for those with limited mobility.
A History of Range Light Park After 30 years of service, the Old (1840) Lighthouse at Presque Isle was decommissioned and the New (1870) Light was illuminated at the start of the 1871 shipping season. However, boats still required safe access to the Harbor. The Range Light met this need.
Range lights are paired beacons, one higher than the other, with the two separated by a distance. When aligned vertically, these lights provide a bearing to guide mariners safely through a channel. In other countries these beacons are called “leading lights” because they form a “leading line” (course) for safe passage through shallow or dangerous waters.
In daylight the beacons are supplemented by daymarks — painted panels visible at a distance. Like the lights at night, these panels must be aligned vertically to assure a proper course. The U.S. Coast Guard uses twelve patterns for daymarks. Presque Isleʼs daymark pattern, designated KRW, has three vertical stripes, two red-orange with a white stripe between.
In June 1869, for a sum of $100, Fredrick Burnham sold 8.5 acres on Presque Isle Harbor to the United States Government to serve as the site for a range light. The original structures were constructed the following year. This installation consisted of a short wooden tower housing the Front Light, and in the Keeperʼs Dwelling a third floor room with a large window for display of the Rear Light.
On September 8, 1870, Isaac Codington was named first Keeper of the Range Light with an annual salary of $540. He supervised construction and served until his death five years later. William Sims, his assistant, took over and, in 1887, was followed by Thomas Garrity. Thomas was son of Patrick Garrity Sr., Keeper at the New Light. In 1891 Patrick Sr. became Range Light Keeper and Thomas transferred to the New Light. Patrick was followed in 1903 by his daughter, Anna Garrity. Anna, who served for 23 years, is one of just 27 female lighthouse keepers to serve on the Great Lakes. In turn she was followed by Vincent Newagon, Clement Richardson, and Gustav Hansen during the period 1923-39. Records are unclear, but it seems likely that USCG personnel tended the Range Light after 1939.
In 1967 the Front Range Light was replaced with a new tower. The original wooden structure was moved to the entrance to the Old Lighthouse Park. Several years later it was moved back to Range Light Park, placed near the road, and renovated. A tall steel tower replaced the Rear Range Light, and the former Keeperʼs Dwelling became a private home. Both the Front and Rear Lights remain under supervision of the Coast Guard.
The second Keeper (1875-87) was Capt. William Sims. His wife Adeline died during his tenure and was buried on the Range Light property. Her marker includes a Masonic emblem. Relatives of William and Adeline Sims live in the Presque Isle area and continue to tend the grave.
Location: 4500 East Grand Lake Road, Presque Isle, Michigan 49777
The 1905 House, Briefly
The original Keeperʼs House at Presque Isle Light Station, built in 1870, served as home to the Keeper, Assistant(s), their families, and staff required for operation of the steam-driven fog signal. The place must have been really crowded!
In 1905 an additional residence was built and occupied first by the principal Keeper and his family, and later by U.S. Coast Guard personnel. In 1970 the New Light was automated, the Coast Guard left, and the 1905 House became a rental unit until 1998, when ownership of the Light Station property was transferred to Presque Isle Township. In 1999 the Presque Isle Township Museum Society began a six-year renovation of the 1905 House. Many hundreds of hours of volunteer labor were needed to restore the building to its original appearance and turn it into a museum of lighthouse life and lore. See our web siteʼs home page for days and hours the museum is open to the public.
When You Visit
Our 1905 Keeperʼs House Museum sits across the lawn from the 1870 Tower and Keeperʼs Dwelling. From the front porch you will have a striking view of Lake Huron framed by a swath of open land running to the lakeshore. This treeless corridor is visible in old photographs and apparently allowed the Keeper to sit on his porch and log in the vessels transiting this area of Lake Huron.
None of the homeʼs original furnishings remain. Keepers owned their furniture and took it with them when they left. However, committed members of the community and the Presque Isle Township Museum Society have donated or loaned many fascinating artifacts, and other items have been purchased. On display is furniture, art, books, china, kitchen equipment, and many other articles typical of the museumʼs 1915 target era. Exhibits are rotated frequently for the benefit of returning visitors.
There is no entrance fee. However, donations are always welcome and help maintain the Museum. Please use caution on the concrete steps in front of the 1905 House; they are challenging “antiques” not built to modern architectural standards.
A History of the 1905 Keeper's House
On April 28, 1904, Congress allocated $5,000 for construction of an additional residence at Presque Isle Light Station. A year later, on April 27, 1905, the Detroitbased USLHT Amaranth, a wooden-hulled, steam-powered, double-screw lighthouse tender operated by the U.S. Lighthouse Service, put into North Bay to off-load construction materials. A contractor named Jerome Louzon was in charge of the project, and used a crew from Alpena. Construction began at mid-summer and was completed in the early fall.
The 1905 House is built of cement block. By 1905 Alpena had become a major producer of cement, and the block used here was made by an Alpena company. Interior finish is wet plaster on lath. Floors are birdseye maple, and trim appears to be Douglas fir or a similar wood. By analyzing paint samples, restoration workers were able to match wall colors used in 1905. The original roof was replaced with a metal roof about 1995. In all major respects, including furnishings and decoration, the house looks as it did about 1915.
Although originally intended for the Assistant Keeper, by the time the 1905 House was ready for occupancy, it had been designated for use by the principal Keeper and his family. Thomas Garrity, a bachelor, was the first Keeper to reside there. His sister Kathryn lived with him. At his retirement in 1935 Thomas was succeeded by Elmer C. Byrnes and his family, who transferred from Point Iroquois Light Station on Lake Superior, west of Sault Ste. Marie.
Modern conveniences were slow in arriving on the Peninsula. At the start, heat was supplied by two fireplaces and a kitchen wood stove on the ground floor, and by small stoves upstairs. In 1911 a boiler and radiators were installed. Nearly three decades later, in 1940, electricity was finally run to the house. That same year indoor plumbing replaced the outdoor privy, and one of the four bedrooms upstairs was converted to a bathroom.
Keeper Byrnes witnessed the transition in lighthouse management as the Coast Guard assumed control from the U.S. Lighthouse Service. After Elmerʼs retirement USCG personnel served as keepers. They lived in the dwelling until 1970 when the light was automated and an on-site keeper was no longer needed. For the first time in a century, the Presque Isle Light Station and the 1905 House were Keeper-less!
In 1973 the Light Station was leased to Presque Isle Township to serve as a public park. The 1905 House became a rental unit and three different families lived there over the next 25 years. Then, on June 16, 1998, the property was deeded to the Township, again for use as a park. Under this agreement, for-profit use is prohibited. The newly formed Presque Isle Township Museum Society, a not-for-profit historical society, began renovation of the 1905 House in May 1999, and completed the work in July 2005. The Museum soon opened to the public.
Repair and maintenance is an ongoing responsibility. During the period 2012-13 the Township — with substantial financial support from the Museum Society — undertook restoration of the front porch, stairs, and railings, all of which were rebuilt according to the original architectural plans. At the same time the 1905 Houseʼs windows were repaired and the exterior of the building was painted.
Elmer C. Byrnes, Keeper 1935-1954 Elmer Byrnes, Keeper at the New Light from for 19 years, was a respected member of the Presque Isle community. He was also a colorful figure. A prohibition era photograph in our archives shows the Keeper on his boat, ready to patrol the Huron coastline. As a federal officer, he is armed with a pistol, apparently as protection against bootleggers. Life at Presque Isle could be exciting from time to time!
Elmer is also typical of lighthouse keepers throughout the country and across the years — men and women who maintained their aids to navigation by day and night, in fair weather and foul, in sickness and in health, often living in isolation, and sometimes doing their duty at the risk of their lives. By their dedicated service they protected the people who made their living or traveled on the seacoasts, lakes, and rivers of the United States. Their memory burns as brightly as the lights they tended.
Elmer C. Byrnes was born July 26, 1887, the son of Patrick and Julie Smith Byrnes. The family of six (Elmer had two sisters and a brother) lived at Copper Harbor, then, as now, a small village at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, which juts out into Lake Superior on Michiganʼs Upper Peninsula. Copper Harbor was, and still is, one of Michiganʼs most isolated communities. Even today, only a handful of people remain in town during the winter.
In 1914 Elmer married Jule Georgiana Calverly, an Irish schoolteacher from Calumet, Michigan, another Keweenaw village. A few days after their wedding the couple moved to Point Iroquois Light Station at Brimley, a few miles west of Sault Ste. Marie. Elmer served as First Assistant Keeper until 1917, when at age 30 he was promoted to principal Keeper.
During the nearly 21 years they served at Point Iroquois, Jule and Elmer had four children: Betty, Robert, Nan, and Elmer Junior. Sadly, as a teenager Junior was killed in a hunting accident.
The family transferred to Presque Isle Light Station on February 3, 1935. Less than a year later, on January 24, 1936, Jule died following a series of strokes, just one month shy of her 49th birthday. She is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Alpena. Elmer subsequently married Flora LaChance, teacher at the schoolhouse formerly located at the intersection of East Grand Lake Road and County Highway 638.
Late in life Betty Byrnes Bacon published her fond memories of growing up at Presque Isle Light Station. For example, she noted that the Lantern Room of the New Light, towering more than 100 feet over Lake Huron, was a wonderful place for a teenage couple to “bill and coo” in privacy under a brilliant moon.
There was sadness, too. During World War II Robert Byrnes served as a paratrooper in Europe. He was killed in action shortly before the end of the war — the second of Elmerʼs sons to die — and is buried in France. Daughter Betty married Henry Bacon and lived at Fallbrook, California. She died in 1993. Daughter Nan married John Mason and lived at Washington, D.C., until her death in 2004.
Elmer Byrnes retired as Keeper of the New Lighthouse in 1954. He died of an intestinal hemorrhage on September 4, 1956, at age 69. Following services at St. Anne Catholic Churchin Alpena, Keeper Byrnes was interred in Bay View Cemetery at Brimley, Michigan, where he began his career as a lighthouse keeper.
Keeper Byrnes — or more properly, a wonderfully lifelike effigy — greets visitors to the 1905 House, and sometimes scares the daylights out of impressionable children! His brief recorded commentary provides an orientation to the museum and to lighthouse life illustrated by the scores of articles on display. The Presque Isle Township Museum Society hopes that all lighthouse keepers are honored by this lovingly assembled and faithfully tended exhibition.
The U.S Flag has 45 stars.
Theodore Roosevelt is President.
Jan. 25 — The 3,106 caret Cullinan Diamond is found in South Africa.
Jan. 31 — At Daytona Beach an automobile first exceeds 100 mph (161 kph).
May 15 — The City of Las Vegas is founded.
Sep. 27 — Albert Einstein publishes a paper with his E=mc2 equation.
Oct. 5 — The Wright Brothers’ third airplane stays in the air for 39 minutes.