Forty-third Lighthouse Expedition
June 10 & 11, 2004
Michigan’s "Thumb" Revisited
Tom and Lynn Baumgarten from Tomah, WI came to visit the lighthouses around Michigan’s "thumb." They arrived at our home on Wednesday evening after taking the new high speed catamaran across Lake Michigan from Milwaukee to Muskegon. They thought the trip went very well. We had dinner after they arrived and then spent the evening catching up on events and activities since we had last seen them on the Pacific Northwest trip last October (Forty-second Lighthouse Expedition).
June 10, 2004, Thursday
- 9:00 am
- We left home after breakfast in a light drizzle.
- 10:15 am
- Our first stop was the Peche Island Light in Marine City. This stop brought back many memories as this was our first lighthouse on our first expedition in July of 1987. We would be retracing our "steps" of that very first trip. (With a few new adventures added.) We were disappointed that it was raining but Don and Tom got out and took pictures anyway. This light was originally on Peche Island and moved to Marine City in 1983 and is located in a park at the edge of the River. We left at 10:20.
- 11:00 am
- The Lightship Huron is located in Pine Grove Park in Port Huron. The lightship docking area has been greatly improved since our first visit. The ship is now open for tours. It was still sprinkling. We left at 11:15.
- 11:20 am
- Just a little further north is the Fort Gratiot Light. It is just north of the Blue Water Bridge at Harfield and Omar Streets. This is the oldest lighthouse in Michigan. The rain had let up and all four of us got out to walk to the north side of the lighthouse for pictures. It is located on Coast Guard property and visitors are not allowed to wander around the grounds. We found a decent spot to get pictures of the light, and then left at 11:35.
- 12:20 pm
- The Port Sanilac Light is privately owned and is located on Lake Street. There is parking next to the light and you can walk out onto a breakwater and get good views of the lighthouse. We left at 12:30. There was a gift shop nearby and of course we stopped in to see their goodies. We asked for suggestions of where we might have lunch in town and they suggested Mary’s Diner. We were not disappointed and we had a good lunch. We left there at 1:20. It stopped raining and the skies cleared shortly after we left Port Sanilac.
- 1:40 pm
- A "New Lighthouse" since our trip in 1987 is the White Rock Memorial Light built in 1996. It’s right on Hwy 25, north of Port Sanilac. We had stopped there a few years ago and met the man who built the light. The little town of White Rock had a lighthouse but when it burned down, it was not replaced. He decided to build this one as a memorial. It’s not a replica but a nice stop for lighthouse lovers. We left about 1:50.
- 2:00 pm
- The sun is out and the sky has cleared. However, it has cooled off considerably. We could view the Harbor Beach (Sand Beach) Light on the end of the breakwater in the town of Harbor Beach. Tom’s camera malfunctioned, so Diana loaned him hers for the remainder of the day. We left at 2:10.
- 2:30 pm
- Probably the nicest lighthouse on the thumb is the Pointe Aux Barques Light near Huron City. There is a museum in the lighthouse which is open daily from 10:00 am to 4:00 p.m. Lynn and Diana toured the museum and Tom and Don took pictures from every angle outside. There is a camping area and beautiful park near the lighthouse, too. We left at 2:50.
- 3:10 pm
- The Port Austin Reef Light is located 2 miles off the tip of the thumb in Port Austin. We took pictures from Bird Creek Park. Don and Diana went with a work team to the light in 1996 to get pictures up close and enjoyed the opportunity to see the work they are doing to restore the light. The red roof really shows up in the sunlight! We left at 3:20 p.m.
- 3:40 pm
- We stopped at the Dairy Queen in Caseville. We didn’t want to disappoint Tom and Lynn!!! We left at 3:50 pm.
- 5:00 pm
- We arrived in Bay City. Don had made arrangements to meet Rob Englund and Don Comtois of the Saginaw River Marine Historical Society. The Historical Society has taken on the task of renovating the Saginaw River Rear Range Light. Since the light is located on Dow Chemical property, we needed help getting access to the light. Rob and Don were most kind to help us do this. We called Don when we arrived in Bay City and he met us at 5:40 and by 5:45 we were at the gate. We were able to tour the inside of the lighthouse and take lots of pictures from all angles outside. They are keeping the grass area cut and had their annual picnic there just a few weeks earlier. It was exciting to see what they have done so far and what their plans are for the restoration. Dow Chemical is planning to help finance their project. We left about 7:15 pm.
- 7:30 pm
- We checked into the AmericInn in Bay City and went immediately to dinner at the nearby Cracker Barrel. We returned to the motel about 9:00 and played cards – TIC.
June 11, 2004, Friday
- 8:15 am
- We met Tom and Lynn in the lobby for a continental breakfast.
- 9:05 am
- We said our "goodbyes" to Tom and Lynn. They were heading north to Mackinaw City and we were heading south for home.
- 9:35 am
- We arrived at the Birch Run Outlets mall. Unfortunately the stores don’t open until 10:00! Don was patient and since there was only one store where Diana really wanted to shop, we were able to leave by 10:45.
- 11:35 am
- Arrived home.
Our special thanks to Rob Englund and Don Comtois of the Saginaw River Marine Historical Society for their help in getting us into the Saginaw River Lighthouse. We wish them and their organization continued success in their restoration project.
Trip Totals: 8 Lighthouses (1 new) and 1 Lightship, 2 days, 324 miles.
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Lighthouses: A Photographic Journey
Conceived and Developed by David S. Carter
Photographs by Donald W. Carter
Text by Diana K. Carter, Donald W. Carter & David S. Carter
Copyright © 1995-2004 David S. Carter, Donald W. Carter, & Diana K. Carter. All rights reserved. Reproduction by any means, physical or electronic, in part or in full, without the express permission of the authors, is strictly prohibited.