The unofficial motto of the U.S. Lifesaving Service was “You have to go out; you don’t have to come back.” Vermillion Point that was the most remote and desolate lifesaving station around the Great Lakes. Located on the shores of Lake Superior in Whitefish Point the station was situated between Crisp Point Lighthouse and Whitefish Point Lighthouse. The men and their families stationed in the remote outpost referred to it as the Alcatraz of the Lifesaving Service.
The station began operation in 1876 and received supplies by boat. In the wintertime, supplies were delivered by dog sled to the isolated place far from any town. The station remained in operation until 1944 when it was abandoned. The buildings were left to defend themselves from the harsh northern Michigan weather. In the early 1970s, the Vermilion Life Saving Station and the surrounding 1.5 miles undeveloped shoreline was privately purchased for preservation and restoration. Many of the buildings’ exteriors have been restored. The one in the photograph is one of the remaining buildings to be restored by the non-profit group S.O.S. Vermillion.
The property is open to the public for quiet recreation. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the preserve and the areas around piping plover nests and bird-trapping nets are restricted. It is about a 10 mile drive down sandy forest roads to reach Vermillion Point. It’s worth the trip, but I suggest doing it in the summer or fall when it is dry. The first trip I tried to make to the point the road was flooded over about a mile from the parking lot and I had to turn around.
If you like this story and are looking for interesting places in Michigan to visit, check out the Lost In Michigan books HERE
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