September 14, 2011
Visiting the Grosse Ile Light (September 11, 2011)
On the second Sunday of September each year, the Grosse Ile Historical Society has an open house and tour of the Grosse Ile North Channel Range Front Light. This light is located on the Detroit River near the northern entry of the Livingston Channel (which was finished in October 1912). The only way to get to the light is by crossing over private property, so that is why access is limited to once a year.
The light was recently renovated and they did an amazing job, especially with the interior. It is somewhat hard to believe that it is only open once a year – but for a lighthouse fan in Michigan, it is a day to etch on the calendar. The first time I saw the light was 2009, but it was mostly under wraps – so this was a big treat.
I have enjoyed so much these last 10 years visiting lighthouses. My interest in lighthouses extends further back, but it was only the past few years where I tried to see some new lights every year. With photography, it only gets better and more enjoyable to visit. But one of the best parts about visiting lighthouses for the first time is that you get to collect the experiences. The water, these buildings and the history contained in them all unfold in ways that cannot be captured through seeing pictures online or books. Standing there takes you back to a time when a relatively simply light kept people safe and sound, even in the worst weather.
And while I love visiting lighthouses, and even love it more when I get my family with me, this one I went alone. The rest of the gang had things to do…so they told me. I appreciated that the Mrs. let me do this rather than mow the lawn, or the 100s of other things I have yet to finish at home. Sometimes you have to know when you can drag your family, and when you should just be happy that they are letting you go.
The day starts at the Depot, the main home of the Grosse Ile Historical Society. The ability to wait patiently in line is a very good virtue for the day. Naturally, with a family, this can be a bit tricky… My ticket was #73 – I figure that almost 140 people came that day. It is wonderful to see people come out. Because you are being transported from the Depot Station to the Light by bus, there is some waiting before you get your ride. The bus ride up to the light is short, but you get a wonderful history and tour of Grosse Ile. When you arrive at the house near the Light, you then wait to go up into the building itself. Because the space is small, they let around 6-7 people in the building at a time. So you wait and talk with family and neighbors. I took the opportunity to talk about College Football with a volunteer. We have very opposite reactions about the previous evening’s Michigan-Notre Dame football game. I was happy, he, not so much. Go Blue! And after we toured the light, we waited a bit for the bus to return. Maybe it was more than a bit – but at the end of a perfect day, who is counting.
While we were waiting and talking, we did not get to see any freighters. We did see a fishing tug (the Nancy K.) and a tall ship (Highlander Sea) pass by.
Getting inside the light is a real treat. The work done on the inside is beautiful. We get to climb up the three stories (I think) and can look out the lantern room. Another volunteer gave a great talk about the history of the light and its location in the Detroit River.
It was a wonderful day at the light. I am so appreciative of the Historical Society, the property owner who let us cross over their lawn, and everyone who made this day possible.
Posted by cseeman at September 14, 2011 08:47 PM