The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), 13 Oct 1883

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The last of the working party employed in repairing the lighthouse and erecting a fog signal house at Waugoshance Pier, Straits of Mackinac, have arrived in Detroit, having been on the pier two months. There were thirty-nine men in all employed at the work, though not all for the whole time.

This pier is on the most exposed point on the whole lakes, a southeast wind throwing spray twenty feet over the lantern, which is about ninety feet above the lake. In freezing weather the ice envelopes the whole pier and in winter the only thing visible is a great mound of ice, with nothing but the upper half of the tower in sight, the house, pier, and boat house being covered. The action of the ice cut into the brick work throwing down large pieces of mason work, and by crushing in the crib threatened the destruction of the structure. Sixteen years ago the foundation was renewed by sinking a caisson and building up with cut stone from fifteen feet below the water line to fifteen feet above the lake. On this was built the dwelling house. The old pier, 100 feet square and ten feet high, still surrounds the stone work, though a few seasons will see the last of it as it is so loosened that it strikes against the stonework in a heavy sea.

It was decided to repair the tower and dwelling by building a casing of three-eighth-inch boiler iron around the whole, leaving space enough for holding on the rivets and filling the space with concrete. The job was done by contract, the bids being opened July 1, the Buhl Iron Works being the lowest bidder at $23,000. Accurate measurements were taken and the sheets of boiler plate were all punched and bent at the shop in this city. There were about 24,000 holes punched, only four of which had to be repunched at the pier.

The materials used in the job were 136,000 pounds of iron, 120 barrels of patent cement, 350 barrels of sand, 360 pounds of stone, 20,000 brick, fifty barrels of lime, two boilers 42x12, two fog signal engines 4x6, with all the valves, pumps, pipes, whistles and other tools and appliances for erecting the work, besides the large amount of provisions consumed by the men. The difficulties of the work were great, every rain or heavy sea driving the men from the pier, and as the scaffolds were sixty feet high work could not be carried on in a high wind. At one time the the weather was so bad that two weeks elapsed during which no communication could be had with the shore a mile and a half distant, from which sand and stone were obtained, and no mail or materials could be brought from Mackinaw. But in spite of these obstacles and the large amount of sickness on the pier, six men having to be sent home on that account, the job is at last completed three weeks before the specified time. The fog signal house is of three-eighths boiler iron, tightly riveted and caulked. It is in a radius of twenty feet, the center of which is the tower, being fifteen feet wide and two-thirds of a circle, the coal bumpers (sic) occupying the corners.

The whole structure is painted with a coating of brown mineral paint. The boiler iron casing of the tower is sixty-two feet high from the stone foundation. The fog signals are duplicates with boilers set in brick work. They are so arranged that they make two blasts of about four seconds duration in a minute. The whistles are ten inches in diameter, a duplicate of those used on the lakes. The fog bell which was heretofore used has been removed. It would seem that the light-house on this more exposed situation was now finished for generations, as nothing but an earthquake or tornado can affect it, and it would be safe to give the light-house the odds against an average tornado.

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Item Type:
For more information and a current photo of Waugoschance light, see . The 1883 ironworks can still be seen.
Date of Original:
13 Oct 1883
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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), 13 Oct 1883