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High water threatens former Lake Michigan lighthouse

Jan 2, 2020
The former lighthouse at Waugoshance Shoal in Lake Michigan.

The former lighthouse at Waugoshance Shoal in Lake Michigan.

Courtesy Chris West/Waugoshance Lighthouse Preservation Society

The lighthouse structure at Waugoshance Shoal in Lake Michigan, built in 1851 and retired in 1912, is under duress from the lake’s high water levels and autumn storms, which are loosening stones from the light tower’s massive crib structure base and causing them to fall into the water. Should sufficient stones be removed by wave action, the lighthouse tower above the cribwork could collapse.

Chris West, president of the Waugoshance Lighthouse Preservation Society, has put out a call for help. “The high water mixed with the fall storms in the northern Great Lakes have proven to be too much for our beloved Waugoshance,” West stated in an email. “The base of the lighthouse is being eaten away by the lake.”

Preservation society members are reportedly working toward coming up with a plan to save the lighthouse.

High water levels are reportedly loosening stones in the structure’s foundation.

Courtesy Chris West/Waugoshance Lighthouse Preservation Society

The lighthouse, at the western entrance to the Straits of Mackinac, has long been out of service and was even used as a target for early naval drone aircraft late in WWII.

“We have been in contact with a marine construction company and some state agencies to try and get some help to save the light,” West wrote. Before the cribwork suffered wave damage, the preservation society came up with a plan to build a breakwall around the lighthouse that would include a safe harbor for boats. According to West, this plan would not only protect the lighthouse but also bring it a new role in providing an anchorage for recreational boats. Go to www.waugy.com for more information.

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