Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Last light

It used to be that boarding a ship on the Great Lakes was to take your life into your own hands. Fickle weather, submerged shoals and tricky currents wreaked havoc in the early days of shipping on those waters. The building of lighthouses as an aid to navigation flourished in the late 1800s, mostly for protection of the burgeoning mining and lumber interests in the region. The state of Michigan, bordered on three sides by water, boasts nearly 120 lighthouses along its shores.

Advancements in navigation and the advent of GPS technology have long since rendered the old lighthouse obsolete. Technological aids to navigation can point out the exact location of shoals and currents, where the best that the old lighthouse could do was to mark the general location of navigational traps, then provide someone to pick up the pieces when a ship met disaster. These quaint relics now stand in various locations around the world and provide photographic fodder and memories of ships that depended on the beacons and the unique men and women who maintained these lonely outposts. Only the buildings and the stories remain.

This is the Sherwood Point light station, located at the confluence of Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay in Door County, Wisconsin. In 1983, it became the final lighthouse on the Great Lakes to turn its light over to automation. It marked the passage of an era where each point of light along the shore had a person attached to it.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

2 comments:

V. Schroeder said...

Snow and a lighthouse, what a beautiful combination.

JAM said...

This is a wonderful photo. The light is beautiful, as is the whole image, lighthouse and all, but the shadows of the bare trees on that open expanse of snow is the perfect touch.