August 7, 2017

A Lighthouse and Shipwreck: 40 Mile Point

Rogers City, MI

On October 19, 1905, a wooden steamer towing a schooner-barge encountered rough waters. The two ships rolled in opposite directions, causing the schooner-barge to break free. The wooden steamer lost part of its stern and got stuck on a sandbar. The captain and the ten crewmen were able to make it safely to shore.

We visited Roger City’s 40 Mile Point Lighthouse and took the quick walk down to the beach to see what’s left of that wooden steamer; the Joseph S. Fay. There’s not much. The remains are similar to those of ships we came across in Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore.

Along with the Joseph S. Fay, there were 27 other wooden vessels lost during the “Big Blow of 1905.” It’s hard to believe that such ships are found scattered all around the Great Lakes.

Opened in 1895, 40 Mile Point Lighthouse was constructed with the intent that ships sailing from Mackinaw Point to the Saint Clair River could always see a lighthouse. Its name is derived from that purpose as it is located 40 miles from Mackinaw Point.

When we were doing the tour (free of charge) we felt a strange familiarity. Come to find out, 40 Mile Point Lighthouse was built using plans that are nearly identical to the Big Bay Lighthouse that we stayed in last year. According to one of the volunteer keepers, it was cheaper to construct lighthouses from a “kit” rather than building everything from scratch.

Similar to the Big Bay Lighthouse, 40 Mile Point was constructed from brick and its 52-foot tall tower is square. It’s light, a Fresne Lens, is still active and can be seen from 16 nautical miles away.

The lighthouse is located 7 miles north of Rogers City off Heritage Route US-23. It is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. It is closed on Mondays. The lighthouse park is open year-round from 8 a.m. to sunset.

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