This is the Last Remaining Lightship in Michigan of Its Time

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Written By Happy

 

 

 

 

Lightships function as floating lighthouses, typically anchored in areas where constructing a permanent lighthouse is challenging or impractical. Since the early 19th century, they have guided mariners along the coast of the United States and various countries. However, with the emergence of modern technology, lightships have become obsolete, giving way to buoys, satellites, and radar.

The Huron, Lightship No. 103, was one of the last lightships in operation on the Great Lakes. Launched in 1920, it was specially designed for Great Lakes service and is the sole surviving lightship of the 96-foot class. Serving at different stations on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, the Huron was decommissioned in 1970. It was later transferred to the City of Port Huron, where it now serves as a museum and historical landmark.

History of the Huron Lightship

Constructed by the Consolidated Shipbuilding Corporation in Morris Heights, New Jersey, the Huron cost $147,428. Built between 1918 and 1920 to replace the aging wooden lightships in the U.S. Lighthouse Service fleet, it was made of steel, measuring 96 feet in length, 24 feet in width, and 9 feet in depth. With a crew of 11 men, the Huron was equipped with a 375-horsepower diesel engine, a 12-inch steam whistle, a 1,000-watt electric lamp, and a fog horn.

Launched on May 1, 1920, the Huron underwent trials before being accepted by the U.S. Lighthouse Service on December 4, 1920. Assigned to various stations on the upper Great Lakes, it marked dangerous shoals and reefs. The Huron’s first station was North Manitou Shoal in Lake Michigan (1921-1934), followed by Grays Reef in Lake Michigan (1934-1935). Its final and longest station was Corsica Shoal in Lake Huron, where it served from 1935 to 1970.

The Huron anchored near the shoal, displaying light and sound signals to warn passing vessels. It communicated with other ships via radio and semaphore, reporting weather and ice conditions to the Coast Guard. The crew endured harsh weather, isolation, and boredom, with resupply and relief provided by a tender every two weeks and yearly maintenance at a nearby port.

The Huron’s service concluded on August 20, 1970, replaced by a lighted buoy. It was the last lightship to operate on the Great Lakes and the second-to-last in the United States. Decommissioned at Detroit on August 25, 1970, it was transferred to the City of Port Huron on June 5, 1971. Moved to Pine Grove Park on August 29, 1972, it was dedicated as a historical monument and exhibit on October 4, 1974.

Huron Lightship Museum

Operated by the Port Huron Museum, the Huron Lightship Museum is open to the public from April to December. Visitors can explore the ship, learn about its history, equipment, and life on board. The museum features exhibits, artifacts, and memorabilia related to the Huron and other lightships. Recognized as a state and national historic site, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989.

The Huron Lightship Museum is a unique and valuable attraction preserving maritime history often overlooked. As the last remaining lightship in Michigan of its time, the Huron represents the crucial role lightships played in ensuring the safety and commerce of the Great Lakes. It stands as a tribute to the courage and dedication of the men who served on these vessels. For those interested in lighthouses, ships, or history, the Huron Lightship Museum is a must-visit.

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