Digest>Archives> January 2002

Cooper’s Lighthouse: A Muncie Memorial

By Andy Montgomery


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Charles W. Cooper was an avid outdoorsman who ...

College basketball, auto racing, corn... Indiana is known for many things, lighthouses not being among them. But Michigan City Lighthouse is well preserved today as a museum, and there are a handful of smaller pierhead lights. And now there’s a newcomer on the Hoosier lighthouse scene.

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Fred Bedwell during the construction of Cooper’s ...

Cooper’s Lighthouse, a few miles southeast of Muncie, is the only lighthouse in central Indiana. The white tower is on the grounds of the Muncie Sailing Club on the Prairie Creek Reservoir, a 3 1/2 mile long lake that serves as a water supply for the area.

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Fred Bedwell and Roger Ockomon in front of the ...

The idea for the lighthouse was hatched a few years ago after Fred Bedwell, a member of the Muncie Sailing Club, was out sailing with his friend, Charles W. Cooper. Cooper was an avid outdoorsman who took part in activities like big game hunting and gold mining. He even worked as a hunting guide in Alaska. Near the end of his life Cooper often said that of all his adventures, he enjoyed sailing the most.

Not too long after this, in 1997, Cooper passed away. Fred Bedwell, moved by Cooper’s love for sailing, began the planning of Cooper’s Lighthouse in memory of his friend. The funding for the lighthouse was raised by members of the Muncie Sailing Club, partly through a “Lighthouse Dance” at the Sailing Club honoring all first mates. (Bedwell considered Cooper his first mate.) The dance was organized by Roger Ockomon, who later helped build the lighthouse.

The lighthouse was constructed in 1997. Inside a small window on the tower there is a silhouette of a sailor’s head wearing a Greek sailing cap and smoking a pipe. This is said to be the “keeper” of the lighthouse keeping watch. When departing or returning to port at the sailing club you can see the silhouette from the water.

There’s an interesting historical sidelight concerning the lighthouse. During the Civil War, a Union Army train was derailed in nearby New Castle, Indiana. Among other things the train dumped a carload of cannonballs intended for the front lines further south. The ball on top of Cooper’s Lighthouse is one of the Civil War cannonballs reclaimed from that train derailment.

Since its construction, Cooper’s Lighthouse has continued to have significance in Fred Bedwell’s life. Fred married his wife Janice in a ceremony at the base of the lighthouse in the middle of a blinding snowstorm in the dead of winter last year.

For more information visit these web pages: www.munciesailingclub.org and www.usalights.com/other/coopers/

This story appeared in the January 2002 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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