Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The New Presque Isle Lighthouse

As I said in my last post, situated about a mile north of the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse is the New Presque Isle Lighthouse.  This is another lighthouse that I've never been to before.  It's kind of a shame because it is a pretty cool looking lighthouse.
 Construction was started in 1870 when the tender Warrington brought a working party and materials to the harbor.  The lighthouse was designed by Major Orlando M. Poe who proposed a cost that was $21,000 higher than originally appropriated.
 Work was completed in 1871.  The base was built 10 feet under ground.  The tower is 109 feet tall and is double walled.  The keeper's dwelling is attached to the lighthouse so the keeper doesn't have to brave elements to tend the light.  There is also a cellar for the storage of fuel for the light and other things.
 The tower design was so elegant, it was copied elsewhere.
 The lifeboat is from the S.T. Crapo which was a freighter that plied the lakes for a number of years.
 The tower was originally equipped with a 3rd Order Fresnel Lens.  In 1889, a fog horn was added to the site.  In 1970, the light was automated.
In 1998, the county was given full control of the light.  I believe it is still an aid to navigation though.
Orlando Poe was an interesting guy.  He was born in Navarre, Ohio in 1832.  He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1856 where he was 6th in his class.  He served as assistant topographical engineer for the survey of the Northern Great Lakes until 1861.

At the start of the Civil War, he helped organize volunteers from Ohio and then assigned to McClellan's staff.  While on that staff, he helped organize the defenses of Washington D.C.  After this, he was promoted to Colonel and placed in charge of the 2nd Michigan Volunteer Infantry.  He commanded them successfully through the Peninsular Campaign (his group was present at but did not participate in Fredricksburg) and was later promoted to Brigadier but that was later rejected by Congress.  In 1863, he became chief engineer of the XXIII corps and was a key factor in the defense of Knoxville.  As a result of this, he became Sherman's Chief Engineer in 1864.  He oversaw the burning of Atlanta and participated in the March to the Sea.

After the war, he became the chief engineer for the Lighthouse Board.  In 1870, he became Chief Engineer for the Upper Lakes.  During his stint in position, he oversaw the design of eight lighthouses - The New Presque Isle, the Grosse Point, Au Sable Light in the Upper Peninsula, the Wind Point Light in Wisconsin, the Outer Island Light, the Little Sable Light, the Seul Choix Light and the Spectacle Reef Light.  This last light was considered as the best specimen of masonry in the United States.  While he didn't design the Stannard Point Light, he overcame many of the logistical issues.  This light is considered as one of the 10 top engineering feats in the country.

From 1873 until 1883, he was General Sherman's Aide-de-Camp while Sherman was the commanding General of the United States.  In 1883, he was appointed as the Superintending Engineer for the improvement of rivers and harbors on Lakes Superior and Huron.  It was during this time that he designed the first Poe Lock and the rest is history from there.

In 1895, he died from an infection from an accident at the Soo Locks.  He was buried at Arlington.  The Poe Reef and Poe Reef Light bear his name.  Obviously, the new Poe Lock is in honor of him.

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