I can only imagine how lonely and isolated it must have been to be a Lighthouse keeper in northern Michigan, but for the crew at Poe Reef Lighthouse, it must have been especially challenging. In the fall they survived Michigan storms raging with the waves of Lake Huron splashing up the sides of the lighthouse. In early spring ice would pound on the concrete foundation violently shaking it.
In 1893 a lightship was anchored above the reef located at the east end of South Channel near Bois Blanc Island east of Cheboygan. In 1928 a concrete structure was built with a lighthouse on top of it replacing the lightship. The Poe lighthouse was originally painted all white, which sometimes confused mariners because they shared colors and a common structural design. Thus, a decision was made in 1957 to paint Poe in contrasting bands of black and white.
The Poe Reef station was designed so that the onsite crew could also remotely operate the Fourteen Foot Shoal Light. By 1974 both lights have were fully automated and the fog horn is still in service. In 1929, Poe Reef Lighthouse and Cape Henry Lighthouse became the first in the United States to be equipped with synchronized radiobeacons and fog signals. When these two signals are sent simultaneously, a mariner can note the time interval between the arrival of the radio signal and sound signal and calculate the vessel’s distance from the lighthouse. Poe Reef Lighthouse was operated by a five man crew and had four diesel engines, four gas-operated generators and an eight-foot long pane of radio instruments.
The reef and light are named for lighthouse designer Orlando M. Poe. During ten years of service as Engineer for the Eleventh Lighthouse District he designed eight lighthouses in Michigan and his”crowning achievement” is considered to be the Poe Lock in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
In 2005, the Poe Reef Light lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the parallel state inventory of historic sites
If your wondering, I took this pic from the shoreline of the Cheboygan State Park near the lighthouse ruins of the old lighthouse HERE
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