This weekend I had to sit for an exam in Sault Ste. Marie in the northeast corner of the Upper Peninsula where Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes meet. I purposely arrived early to do a little sightseeing and started by seeking a point of guidance. What I found was the Point Iroquois Light Station.
Sitting high above the waters of Lake Superior, the Point Iroquois Light station marks the narrow channel between Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes. This light station housed three families and sits on a large piece of property, including a lakeshore boardwalk. The light and the land are now part of the Hiawatha National Forest. The light station is named for the Iroquois warriors massacred there by the Ojibwa in 1662.
The discovery of copper and iron ore in 1844 necessitated a passage from the St. Mary’s River to the steel plants of the lower Great Lakes. In 1865, the Soo Locks was opened and have become the most heavily used commercial shipping canal in the world. WOW!
The first lighthouse and residence were built in 1855. In 1870 they were replaced with the brick buildings that stand today. The tower is 65 feet high. After 107 years of service, the light at Point Iroquois became history. It’s been replaced by an automatic light in the channel off Gros Cap, Ontario.
I was absolutely freezing, but I still climbed the 65-foot light tower. On clear days, a visitor could observe the lake, and the ocean-going freighters as they come and go through the Soo Locks. And during the summer months, costumed interpreters are periodically be on site to tell the history of the lighthouse. I can imagine this area would be a beautiful destination in summer and fall.
If you’re driving the scenic byway to visit Point Iroquois Light Station, you may want to stop and feel the peace of the Old Indian Burial Ground in Bay Mills. The spirit houses are now protected with lumbar, but during earlier times the houses were built of birch or elm bark. Inside the houses were placed tools and items needed to sustain them on their trip to the land of the spirits. There’s also a tree planted by a young girl at the head of her father’s grave. It’s a unique piece of Michigan Native American history. I enjoyed the serenity before continuing on to Sault Ste. Marie for the exam.
Once in Sault Ste. Marie I drove by the Soo Locks. I parked and walked along the locks. I was even lucky enough to witness two ships entering the parallel locks. It was fascinating glimpse of maritime history. People come from around the world to view shipping traffic pass through the locks. And today, I experienced the wonder of a living, breathing legendary history lesson! In spite of being closed during the winter months, about 10,000 ships still pass through each year! Seeing those ships entering the locks was special.
May you find serenity and be fascinated by your world this week.