Digest>Archives> March 2002

Happy 90th Birthday to Louis Bauchan

The last of the true lighthouse keepers


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Louis Bauchan is shown here in his lighthouse ...

Louis S. Bauchan, one of the last of the true lighthouse keepers from the days of the United States Lighthouse Service, will be celebrating his 90th birthday this March 27.

Louis Bauchan is a popular figure in lighthouse circles and is always present at the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival held each October in Alpena, Michigan.

He has kept a detailed photographic account of his days in the U.S. Lighthouse Service and has shared his many memories and photographs with literally hundreds and hundreds of people.

He served as lighthouse keeper at a number of Michigan lighthouses including St. Martins Island, Poverty Island, Chicago Harbor and Point Betsie. He later served on the Coast Guard Icebreaker Mackinaw retiring from there in 1957.

“When the U.S. Lighthouse Service was abolished and taken over by the Coast Guard, things were never the same,” he says. Although he still has strong loyalties to the Coast Guard, it was his time in the old Lighthouse Service that he has the fondest memories of.

While stationed at Point Betsie he discovered an old shipwreck which had been uncovered in a storm on the beach. He though for sure he discovered a treasure ship which had dropped $5 million in gold overboard just before it was sunk by pirates. But, no gold was found.

While a lighthouse keeper he and his wife loved to garden and in fact they grew and canned most of their own food. One time he brought a box of 50 baby chickens out to the island in a bog box. He never knew what type of chickens he had. He eventually ate a couple of the roosters and recalled that they were delicious. However, after he started thinking about it, it bothered him and he could never kill another one. The chickens became pets and he said they were like having friends on the island. He has never killed another thing since.

He said lighthouse living was good, it taught him many things about life and he has memories that will never be lost. If you ever get a chance to meet him, you will be enthralled by the stories and memories of one of America’s last living keepers of the United States Lighthouse Service.

He’d love to hear from you.

90th birthday greetings can be sent to him at:

Louis Bauchan

545 Duncan Ave.

Cheboygan, MI 49721

This story appeared in the March 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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