Digest>Archives> August 2002

Big Sable Point Lighthouse Keepers Association Eyes Two Nearby Lighthouses

By Jim Merkel


You can see an enlarged version of this picture by clicking here.
>> Click to enlarge <<
Mary James, executive director of the ...
Photo by: Jim Merkel

The hugely-successful Big Sable Point Lighthouse Keepers Association soon may duplicate its success at two other lighthouses on the east side of Lake Michigan.

You can see an enlarged version of this picture by clicking here.
>> Click to enlarge <<
Les Meverden (left), son of Homer Meverden, the ...

Those attending the association’s annual dinner in June in Ludington, Michigan learned of developing plans to lease the Little Sable Point Lighthouse, about 25 miles south of the Big Sable Point Lighthouse.

You can see an enlarged version of this picture by clicking here.
>> Click to enlarge <<
Bill Younger, founder of Harbour Lights, was on ...
Photo by: Jim Merkel

Members also learned that their association may become the co-custodian of the Ludington North Breakwater Light in Ludington, just a few miles south of Big Sable.

Mary James, executive director of the Big Sable Point Lighthouse Keepers Association, spoke excitedly about the prospect that her organization may be the custodian of the two “point” lighthouses located halfway up the east side of Lake Michigan, as well as the pierhead light in between.

“We’re really really excited about things that are happening and proud of the fact that the state of Michigan and the (Michigan) Department of Natural Resources sees us as a viable entity,” James told about 80 to 85 people who attended the dinner June 8 at the Lincoln Hills Golf Club, not far from the Big Sable Point Light.

The two point lights are together the two tallest lights on Lake Michigan. Big Sable, first lit in 1867, is 112 feet tall. Little Sable Point, which is 107 feet tall, was first illuminated in 1874. The Ludington North Breakwater Light, first lit in 1924, is 57 feet tall.

The Big Sable Point Lighthouse Keepers Association was established in 1987, when it appeared the light might fall victim to erosion that washed away the shoreline. The volunteers saved the shoreline and with it the light. Today, volunteers keep the light open and restored from May 1 to Oct. 31 for a steady stream of visitors who walk the 1-1/2 miles each year from a parking lot in the Ludington State Park. Teams of six volunteers or more live at the lighthouse for two-week stretches. This year, there are about 100 volunteers at the light.

By next year, there may be a similar routine at the Little Sable Point Light. Association representatives have been meeting with representatives of the Michigan DNR and some people who have been working to preserve Little Sable. The goal is to obtain a lease for Little Sable in a short time. The light tower long has been closed to the public and the building was removed decades ago.

“For years, there was a sort of loosely-organized group down at Little Sable that wanted desperately to get it opened,” James said. “They came to us for some suggestions. They’ve sort of merged with us and we’re on our way. . . .Our big hope is by this time next year, we will have Little Sable Point Lighthouse open to the public.”

Meanwhile, in Ludington, there is discussion that the association may operate a lighthouse and maritime museum with the Mason County Historical Society. That group operates White Pine Village, a museum and collection of historic buildings.

Under this arrangement, the Coast Guard would build a new building in Ludington, which is south of Big Sable Point. The city of Ludington would acquire the old Coast Guard building and the lightkeepers association and Mason County Historical Society would operate it. “We’re hoping that the Ludington Pierhead Light will become an integral part of that project,” James said.

At the same time, James said the last steps have been taken to allow the association to lease Big Sable Point Light from the state of Michigan, following the transfer of Big Sable’s grounds from the federal Bureau of Land Management to Michigan. The group now leases the grounds from the Coast Guard.

“It’s taken a long time for this to happen,” James said. “We’re really delighted that this is going to take place this summer and we look forward to a long, positive working relationship with folks at Ludington State Park and the DNR.”

The completion of an environmental study by the federal Bureau of Land Management means that Big Sable was the last step in this process, James said. “It then will become the responsibility of the (Michigan) Department of Natural Resources,” James said. “We have in place a 25-year lease that we will sign with the DNR and the state of Michigan.”

Much of the evening June 8 was devoted to a presentation by Bill Younger, founder of Harbour Lights. His presentation included desciptions of the rapid growth of his company and the increase in interest in lighthouses.

Among those attending the dinner June 8 were two people with connections to the first and last keepers of the light at Big Sable.

One, Gordon Worth, is the great-great-grandson of Alonzo Hyde, who became the first keeper of that light, in 1867. The second, Leslie Meverden, is the son of Homer Meverden, who was the last civilian keeper at Big Sable before he retired in 1968.

This story appeared in the August 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.

All contents copyright © 1995-2024 by Lighthouse Digest®, Inc. No story, photograph, or any other item on this website may be reprinted or reproduced without the express permission of Lighthouse Digest. For contact information, click here.

to Lighthouse Digest

USLHS Marker Fund

Lighthouse History
Research Institute

Shop Online

Subscribe   Contact Us   About Us   Copyright Foghorn Publishing, 1994- 2024   Lighthouse Facts     Lighthouse History