The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), 17 Aug 1877

Full Text

WORK AT PORT AUSTIN REEF. - The FREE PRESS correspondent at Port Austin writes: on Sunday morning, the 12th inst., the crib for the foundation of the new light-house on the dangerous Port Austin reef was towed out from Point au Barques to the point of the reef, a distance of over two miles, to the final resting-place there prepared for it on solid rock in four feet of water.

The water being almost always rough at his point, the men in charge of the structure have been waiting about a week for an opportunity, and everything could not have been more favorable than the time chosen - a north wind springing up just as the structure was north of the site chosen for it - and was forced hard on the rocks in its proper place, when the hatches were opened and "the friend to all nations" was securely in place at 8 a.m. Sunday.

The structure was commenced at Tawas, and when six feet in height was launched from the ways, about six weeks ago, and towed over to Point au Barques, where four feet more has been added to its height, and large quantities of cement, sand and crushed stone have been cemented into the bottom of this immense structure, which is an octagon eighty feet in diameter, and is built of twelve-inch square pine timber, bolted together with iron bolts three feet in length, which are driven about three feet apart, besides about 500 bolts five feet in length driven in from the outside to help tie it together, these bolts reaching into the cross timbers. There are also 150 bolts, three inches in diameter and seven feet in length, that are to be sunk through three feet of the water line cement, and four feet into the solid rock of the reef, with a wedge in the bottom of the bolt, so that when it reaches the bottom of the drilled hole the wedge will be forced up, and the bolt dovetailed securely in its place. This huge crib is to be twenty-two feet in height, eighteen feet above the water, and is to be cemented solid, in which fourteen thousand barrels of cement and seven hundred cords of stone (the latter being obtained at Grindstone Quarry and crushed at Point au Barques) are to be used in making it so. The tower will be about seventy-five feet high, and from this time forward will continue to benefit those who sail on this part of Lake Huron, especially vessels and steamers coming into Port Austin, as now they have to sail on time. Already, in the daytime, the point of the reef may be avoided and time saved, by this foundation alone, and when it is completed its value can scarcely be estimated. It is situated about two miles from Port Austin, nearly opposite the village, and about the same distance on the reef running out from Point au Barques.

Media Type:
Item Type:
The squat, fortress-like 1877-78 light, modified in 1899, still stands and is being restored at present. See for a nice photo which shows the octagonal base well.
Date of Original:
17 Aug 1877
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Dave Swayze
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), 17 Aug 1877