The 40 Mile Point Lighthouse & Joseph S. Fay Shipwreck: Presque Isle County, Michigan
Seven miles north of Rogers City in Presque Isle County along Lake Huron lies the 40 Mile Point Lighthouse. Why was it given that name? It was named to mark the forty-mile sailing mark from Mackinaw Point.
The Lighthouse Board’s plan to create a series of lights up and down the Lake Huron shoreline was a good one. It was intended so the crews of ships and boats would never be out of sight of a light.
In 1896 the lighthouse began construction and started operating in May 1897. The lighthouse keeper abode had skylights so the keepers could keep an eye on the light without the tedium of having to climb the tower. The necessity for keepers was eliminated and the lighthouse was automated in 1969. Currently, it is open to visitors who can climb the tower and enter the old keeper's home which is now partially a museum.
But that’s not all to see while you’re here…there’s the Joseph S. Fay shipwreck.
The steamer Joseph S. Fay was built in 1871 in Cleveland, Ohio. It did its work well for over thirty years until October 19, 1905. The ship had left Escanaba and was headed down Lake Huron to Ashtabula, Ohio. With a full cargo of iron ore, the Fay’s captain stayed close to shore for protection from the heavy winds and violent waves. With conditions so severe, the captain could not control the ship as winds and waves kept pushing it toward the shore. The schooner D.P. Rhodes was in tow, as both ships had been coupled for these trips for years. The Rhodes broke loose and in doing so, it ripped the stern of the Fay completely off. Now the Fay began to sink. The winds and pounding waves ended up beaching the starboard and saving the lives of the captain and ten crew members. Only one crew member came up missing.
About 600 feet from the 40 Mile Point Lighthouse, the starboard can easily be seen decaying on the beach, with the remains of the ship just 300 yards off shore - in 19 feet of water.
Photos are below…
The 40 Mile Point Lighthouse & Joseph S. Fay Shipwreck
Bell Cemetery, Presque Isle County
The Disappearing Lake in Mystery Valley, Presque Isle County
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