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A bright future for the historic Rock of Ages Lighthouse

Press Release from the Rock of Ages Lighthouse Preservation Society:

There are few places that more completely define solitude than Rock of Ages Lighthouse. Perched atop a knife-edged reef on the western brink of the Isle Royale archipelago, Rock of Ages Lighthouse has stood watch, silently guarding the rocky shores of Isle Royale for more than a century. Standing ten stories tall, the Rock of Ages Lighthouse is just as striking a sight today as when it was built in 1908 to mark the dangerous Rock of Ages Reef. With a second-order Fresnel lens, Rock of Ages Lighthouse was one of the most powerful lights on the Great Lakes.

U.S. Lighthouse Society file photo

Since 1979, Rock of Ages Lighthouse has been left to the wind, waves, and ice without a keeper to maintain it. The Rock of Ages Lighthouse Preservation Society, a 501(c)3 non-profit, has partnered with Isle Royale National Park to pick up where the last lighthouse keeper left off. Using all volunteer help Rock of Ages Lighthouse Preservation Society is restoring the interior of Rock of Ages Lighthouse to its appearance in 1933 when 125 survivors were rescued from the George M. Cox by lighthouse keepers in the largest mass rescue in Lake Superior History

Rock of Ages Lighthouse is a welcome sight to all who journey to Isle Royale, not just because they have almost arrived, but because it means that the rest of the world has been left behind. “Rock of Ages Lighthouse has a way of protecting all those who pass by from the ever changing craziness that is our modern day reality.” Like Isle Royale, “Rock of Ages is a world set apart.” said David Gerth, founder and director of the Rock of Ages Lighthouse Preservation Society. “Those fortunate enough to set foot on the Rock know the overwhelming power of just being there, surrounded by the vast waters of Lake Superior and beauty of Isle Royale.” The restoration of the Rock of Ages Lighthouse to the 1930s time frame will allow visitors “to not only experience the beauty of the place, but also to feel what it is like to live the life of an offshore lighthouse keeper.”

Rock of Ages Light (Keweenaw County, Michigan).jpg
Undated U.S. Coast Guard photo

Full scale restoration began in 2017 and will continue for the next three to five years. Restoration projects completed so far in the fourth floor keepers quarters and third floor kitchen include plaster repair and painting of walls and ceilings, installation of historically accurate flooring material, replacement of custom wood trim for doors and windows, and installation of reproduction windows. Restoration work has also been completed in the stairwells up to the fifth floor. All restoration materials are purchased by Rock of Ages Lighthouse Preservation Society and are funded primarily through donations from individuals and businesses as well as some grants. To donate online please visit
rockofageslps.org/support-us or mail donations to PO Box 3531, Duluth, MN 55803.

Rock of Ages Lighthouse has a bright future thanks to the Rock of Ages Lighthouse Preservation Society and its supporters. Gerth reflected, “The history and future of this publicly owned place belongs to everyone. With the help of all those who love Isle Royale, Lake Superior, and its history, Rock of Ages will become a living lighthouse once again.”

Learn how to become involved at: rockofageslps.org or email rockofageslps@gmail.com for more information.

About the Rock of Ages Lighthouse Preservation Society: Rock of Ages Lighthouse Preservation Society is a 501c3 non-profit based in Duluth, MN. Founded in 2008 by current Director David Gerth, Rock of Ages Lighthouse Preservation
Society has been instrumental in the transfer of the Rock of Ages Lighthouse from the United States Coast Guard to Isle Royale National Park in 2015.

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If you have items of interest to the lighthouse community and its supporters, please email them to Jeremy at nelights@gmail.com.

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