This photo from Marvin Aerial PhotographyBeaver Island is home to two lighthouses....we started at the Whiskey Point light and now we are at the southern most end of the island where we find the South Head Light.
This photo by Kevin Beuret
This is the third oldest lighthouse in the Great Lakes, built in 1851. It has a rather funny story attached to it as the government purchased land for the light to be built, but the light was constructed on the wrong land and it took the government 95 years to acquire the land under its buildings here. This light is no longer operating as it has been replaced by a small light on a tall metal tower. The story goes that the original lens in this tower was the French prism called a Fresnel lens and was the second oldest in the United States. When it was removed by the Coast Guard, it was misplaced and no one knows where the original is now although there is a lens at the base of the tower that you may view.
When you enter the tower itself, this is what you see displayed in a large glass case. Wondering what it is? This is a Fresnel lens. Back when this was an operating lighthouse, this was the type of lens in the top. The Fresnel lens was hand-ground in France and imported to the states. The quality of light projected through a lens of this type is unobtainable by the more modern devices. This light could be seen more than 20 miles. Removed from the tower, seafarers now rely on a flashing tower behind this beautiful building.
Have you ever wondered what was in the inside of the light tower? Most just contain circular stairs like this made of wrought iron. A pole railing curves along the steps and is cemented into the bricks that comprise the tower. There are small windows as you pass each third of the way to the top. At the end of the stairs is a small opening that one crawls through and suddenly you are at the pinnacle. The view from here on a clear day is breath-taking.
This is the view from the South Head light looking to the south. That dark line on the horizon is North and South Fox Islands. As you can see here, the beach is rocky. The white light emitted by the tower denotes such to sailors, while the red of the Whiskey Point light in town denotes a safe harbor.
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