Shipwreck Coast

I took this image from the deck of a large ship 110 miles further west along Michigan's coastline. This is the East Channel Lighthouse built to guide boats safely through Michigan’s so-called Shipwreck Coast on the east side of Grand Island into the port of Munising Bay. Constructed of local wood in the mid-1860s it was decommissioned fifty years later in favor of better light technology. By the late 20th century, the shoreline was curling at its brick foundation and the wood frame structure was failing. A Lighthouse Rescue Committee was formed and appeals for private restoration funds were made (it’s located on private land with no public access). In the summer of 2000 seven dozen volunteers began work on a long, protective seawall and the ten-sided light was relit. Like the Old North Lighthouse at the north end of the island, it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

The East Channel Lighthouse is one of the best known, most recognized and most photographed places along the Lake Superior shoreline. So why are the exterior boards left raw without paint? The Rescue Committee that manages its care believes it’s more rustically beautiful that way as countless thousands of annual photographers agree and that includes me! It feels like a great privilege to be able to share these images and stories with you. On this particular day the sky was stunning and the weather mild. I looked around the full horizon knowing that its beauty is fleeting, even dangerous, and that it's wise to take pleasure in all the good moments we have, to save them up in memory for when we need a lift!

In addition to these two new ones, there are still more to process from last year's two separate trips to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, one in spring, one in the fall. Water feels like home to me, it draws my attention first, and my time follows. 😊 That's not something new either; I've owned two boats and a sailboard, was a NAUI certified diver, crossed the Pacific over ten days in a Norwegian ship-of-sea, and once to my everlasting gladness ignored my own fear to save a drowning man in deep water at the bottom of the dam in Griffy Lake Reservoir, Bloomington Indiana. I was a graduate student in those days and my girlfriends, with whom I was swimming on a hot July day, cautioned me to stay clear. Thankfully I ignored them. Today swimming at the dam is prohibited.