Page 53 - Color Tour 2018
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function. There are many people in the area who love the day in April when the light goes on and they feel a sense of personal connection.”
The 117-step, winding stairs leading to the top of the lighthouse culminate in a captivating view of the dunes, SugarLoaf Mountain and the near-perfectly round South Manitou harbor.
Getting to South Manitou in the fall becomes at least partially a product of the weather. Ferries are scheduled to run out of Leland by Manitou Island Transit.
Ferries for day trips are sched- uled on two Wednesdays, Sept. 12 and 19, and Saturdays through Oct. 6, according to Janet Denoyer of Manitou Transit. Each trip requires at least 30 passengers to leave port.
“As long as the weather is OK, getting enough people is usually not a problem,” Denoyer said.
South Fox gets restored
Although mothballed in 1984, the South Fox Lighthouse has been the subject of restoration efforts since 1999 through the nonpro t Fox Island Lighthouse Association (FILA).
“As FILA begins to wrap up their eighteenth year, it’s the Keeper
Program that has the greatest impact on progress to restore the seven structures at the station,” said the group’s vice-president, Catherine Allchin. She resides in Suttons Bay.
“Started in 2015, our  rst keepers were from Texas. They camped and worked on the island for four weeks. They have never missed a season since. Volunteers now come from Texas, Iowa, Florida, Missouri, Michigan and Switzerland staying and working at the station from one to three weeks.”
Improvements this summer included building a new roof and support on the 1897 Fog Signal building, clearing the base and removing fencing around 1934 Skeletal tower, repairing the roof on 1910 Assistant Keepers building — and adding a fresh coat of paint to the 1897 Boat House.
The 1867 original Lighthouse also received a whitewash.
“This is the  rst year that the base of the skeletal tower has been visible since 1984,” said Allchin. “When they automated the station in 1959 they put up a fence and it became overgrown. It’s all been cleared away now.”
Smaller projects may be just as critical in preserving history.
“We’ve reconstructed the shut- ters to match those originally on the 1867 lighthouse,” Allchin reported. “Thomas and Milliken Millwork in Northport constructed a new door to match the original design. That will be installed next year.”
South Fox island, of which one- third is owned by the State of Michigan, is accessible to the pub- lic only by private boat.
“The beach on the west side is amazing,” said Allchin. “The build- ings will be closed until next sum- mer, but there’s still quite a bit to see there. When the Keepers come back next summer, the buildings will be open, and visitors can take a tour.”
The Crib is latest project
The North Manitou Shoal Lighthouse, known locally as “The Crib,” is also the center of attention for a nonpto t group formed to pre- serve its structure and invite public visits in the future.
“We’ve been making really great progress in our second summer,” said Daniel Oginsky, president of the private group North Manitou Lighthouse Keepers that is restor- ing the structure. It is not currently accessible to the public.
“If people have a chance to go out past there, they will see some- thing new. What was a rusted, faded structure with 30 years of bird guano on it has been cleaned up with a fresh coat of paint,” Oginsky contin- ued.
The Crib was once a manned lighthouse structure that warned ships of Red Shoal, where Lake Michigan’s bottom suddenly springs upward to create a maritime hazard. It’s automated and has been unoccu- pied for years. The federal govern- ment solicited bids for its sale, caus- ing Oginsky and some of his friends to form the nonpro t.
Tasks to come include replacing the glass in the lantern house as the plexiglass has faded over time , and weatherproo ng and replacing win- dows.
“When we’re done with the fully restored lighthouse it’ll be cleaned up and weatherproofed, the inside made new again as it looked in the past. We will also have a working kitchen, guest rooms and bathrooms. We’ll offer tours and members of the North Manitou Lightkeepers organi- zation will have the opportunity to stay there overnight or the week- end.”
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