Two interviews are featured in this episode, concerning Seul Choix Point Light Station in Michigan and Duluth South Breakwater Inner Light in Minnesota.
Located at the northwest corner of Lake Michigan, Seul Choix Bay got its name for the French phrase meaning “only choice.” The bay was a popular place of refuge for early French traders in the area. A 79-foot-tall brick lighthouse with a fixed third-order Fresnel lens began service at Seul Choix Point in 1895, along with a steam-operated diaphone fog signal.
Today, the light station is operated by the Gulliver Historical Society, in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Division. It’s open to the public with tours available in season, Memorial Day weekend to the end of September. Marilyn Fisher was instrumental in the founding of the Gulliver Historical Society and she’s been the Society’s president for 34 years. She’s also the author of 12 books including a continuing series beginning with Spirits at Seul Choix Pointe: True Lighthouse Stories.
The original configuration of the breakwaters in Duluth, Minnesota, featured a light on the south side of the entrance from Lake Superior, established shortly after a canal was constructed in 1874. A light was added to the inner end of the breakwater in 1889. Reconstruction of the canal led to the replacements of both lights around 1900. Duluth South Breakwater Inner Lighthouse stands near a lift bridge on the south breakwater of the Duluth Ship Canal. It forms a range with the Duluth South Breakwater Outer Light to guide ships into the canal from Lake Superior. The current 67-foot-tall skeletal cast-iron tower began service in 1901.
The light remains an active aid to navigation. In 2008 the property was sold by the federal government via online auction to a pair of Duluth residents, Steve Sola and Matt Kampf. Steve grew up in the Park Point section of Duluth, and his family owns the South Pier Inn just a few hundred feet from the lighthouse.
Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org