August 27, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Ludington LightLudington Light

The Ludington Tilt -

Even as early as 1891 it was evident that the entrance off Lake Michigan into Pere Marquette Lake at Ludington was busy with lots of marine traffic. Marine traffic that also included a ferry that travelled to Manitowoc Wisconsin on the other side of the Lake. So much traffic that Congress appropriated $6000 to build a significant navigational light at the entrance to the Ludington Harbor. The first light was built on the south pier head and stood only 25 feet above the waterline, but it had no attached housing for a light keeper and his family. It wasn't until the first light keeper in 1891 was almost swept to his death struggling against November gale force winds to get from shore to service the light. In 1900, quarters were built to house the keeper and his family.

Then in 1906 the Army Corps of Engineers drew up plans to build arrowhead shaped wooden breakwaters to protect the harbor entrance. Completed in 1914, the wooden structures quickly started to decay and by 1919, it was decided that the wooden breakwaters had to be replaced. By 1924, the tower seen in this photo was constructed on the new north concrete breakwater. It was to be made of steel plates over a steel skeleton that was to last 300 hundred years. 

The four-sided white pyramidal steel tower had portholes at all three levels and was shaped like a ship hull to deflect the fierce gale force winds off Lake Michigan. Unlike so many other light lenses of the period, the fourth order fresnel lens used here was made in New York rather than imported from France. It saved time and was less expensive than the French glass optics. In 1972 the light was automated and the Fresnel lens was replaced in 1995 with a new 300mm acrylic optic. 

In 1994, the Army Corps of Engineers discovered that the Light had begun to settle unevenly on the crib on which it was built. The cost to fix this tilt of 4 degrees off vertical was considered prohibitive and it has remained as is to this date. Look carefully at this photo taken at sunset and you will see the Tilt, leaning to the right side.



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