Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Aug 15 – Whitefish Point Light Station and Shipwreck Museum

Not to be a snob but I am really glad that we have the motorhome. We can usually be setup and ready to go in around 5 minutes after we arrive. Yesterday a family arrived in their van shortly after we got back, around 4 pm. After taking a mountain of stuff out of the van, it seemed to take them ages to get all their tents and equipment up. They finally managed to have dinner at nearly 8 pm.

Later, on our stroll around the park we saw this gorgeous old Bluebird Wanderlodge motorhome.


Today we headed to Whitefish Point to check out the light station, museum and beach.

When we arrived the weather was mostly sunny but it got cloudier. By the time we got to the beach it was actually quite gloomy. As soon as we were about to leave though we were in bright sunshine.

It was another busy place so I was glad we got there somewhat early. When we arrived at about 10:30 the parking lot was almost full. When we left around 2:00 the cars and motorhomes were parked well down the sides of the highway, past the second parking lot.

This picture is from when we left. It shows the light station keeper’s quarters, the light station and the building that housed the fog horn.


Obviously the tower is quite a different design from the one we had just been to on the east coast. This one is not much newer though but it is much shorter.


The larger tube holds the staircase and the small tube used to hold the weights that ran the clock mechanism to turn the light.

You can climb the light for $4 a person after you pay your $13 admission to the museum. They only allow 8 people up as a group every half hour. That seems like a long time between tours because even I, being the last one up there, only stayed around 15 minutes.

I got the last ticket for 11:00. Off I go.


From the skinniness of the tube I half expected to be climbing a ladder but there was a narrow spiral staircase.




Made it to the top. It is a pretty narrow balcony.


A vertical panorama out to Whitefish Point.


The tower in the foreground was used by the life saving service and was manned 24/7. It was a separate tower because the life saving and lighthouse services were themselves separate. Only later did they merge to be part of the modern Coast Guard.

A closer view of the point. Lots of clouds now.


Another vertical panorama view out to the beach.


A photosphere does a much better job of  conveying the view.

The light used to be a fourth fresnel lens with a lamp that at first burned whale oil but eventually kerosene. The lens is now down in the keeper’s house.


The current light is a boring but very bright LED array.


Back down on the ground we toured the various building of the museum.

The Shipwreck Museum had a lot of interesting displays about the wrecks in the area. Because of the wicked Lake Superior storms and the narrowness of the passage leading to Sault St Marie there are a lot of wrecks.

The most famous is the Edmund Fitzgerald and the star of the museum is it’s bell.


We later watched a movie about how they retrieved the bell and as a memorial for the families places a new bell, engraved with the crews names, back down on the wreck.

They used one of these NEWT suits, which are essentially one man submarines, to retrieve the bell.


The highlight for me was this giant second order Fresnel lens.


It is 9 feet in diameter and weighs 3500 pounds. The whole mechanism floats on a pool of mercury to make almost frictionless rotation possible.


The lighthouse keeper and families quarters were quite large.

I am not sure if this ornate dresser is original to the bedroom.



I thought that the lighthouse curtains were a nice touch.


This VERY lifelike mannequin startled me as I came down from upstairs.


They did say that one of keepers had an old radio much like the one in the living room.


On to the life saving station building.


The lifeboat weighed over 3000 lbs and the men would sometimes have to push it for many miles down the beach to reach a wreck.


I thought the cork life jackets would be rather awkward to wear but they said that they were very light and would stay buoyant for days whereas others would get waterlog.


This heavy cannon and carriage with the lines to carry the survivors off the wrecks would also have to be dragged for miles down the beach.



Back outside and the wooden rudder from one of the wrecks.


The beaches along here are known for their agates so we headed out to see what we could find.

But first, lunch as a large freighter came round the point.


A little while later it passed another one going the other way.



Most people were like us and just went out to see what we could find. The two ladies in the background below were very serious, with the one in the water looking for ones us landlubbers would not have found yet. We later saw them heading back out after they had emptied their buckets in their car.


The rocks are always so much more colourful in the water. Jennie collected a bunch of interesting and colourful rocks but we have no idea if they are agates.


Onwards towards the point.


And a photosphere from here.

Looking back towards the light station.



We made it.


Our path.


Some of the small beach flowers we saw.





Heading back to the car.


We stopped in a small (too small) food store in Paradise to try and get some supplies. On the way home we passed Brown’s Fish House.


All the blogs I had read said that we must stop. Even though it was way too early for dinner we did anyway. They are a fishing family that also run the restaurant. The catch for the day comes in mid morning. They open at noon and close at 7 or whenever they run out of fish. They were already out of several items when we got there.

Thankfully they still had the whitefish, which is what they are known for. We also had some of the last of the fish chowder.


The reviews were correct. Everything was great.

1 comment:

  1. LOVE that vintage Bluebird bus! I saw one for sale on line last year - mint condition - very cool! They all seem to have a name!!! Great pics of the lighthouse and beaches!!!