514. Big Sable Lighthouse

Ludington, MI

Big Sable Lighthouse

In 1855 twelve ships wrecked between Big Sable Point and the City of Ludington, and 48 lives were lost. Hearing of the need for a lighthouse, from sailors and local merchants, Congress granted money in 1866, for a lighthouse at Big Sable Point. The light would provide the needed precaution for ships navigating the shallow waters around the Big Sable Point.

 The 112 ft. tower was built with Milwaukee cream brick and had walls that were 5 feet thick at the base of the tower and two feet thick at the top. A third order Fresnel lens was installed in the tower. It wasn’t too long after the tower was built that the brick began to crumble. It was decided to install steel cladding or plates around the light tower. After the steel cladding was installed around the tower, cement was poured between the bricks and the steel cladding adding to the thickness of the walls. Mariners had also complained they could not see the Big Sable tower during daytime hours as the brick blended in with the sand. It was painted white with a black band which was the new day mark for the light.

Electricity was brought out to the light in 1949. The last employed keeper left Big Sable in 1968, and the keepers quarters of the lighthouse were closed and abandoned.

 In 1987 a local group, which became known as the Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers, banded together to save Big Sable from the wind, waves and vandals. Big Sable was almost falling into the lake and the house was in shambles. The group raised funds and put years of sweat equity into preserving the lighthouse and keepers quarters. SPLKA’s mission to this day is to preserve, promote and educate the public and make our lighthouses accessible to all.

Big Sable is owned by the State of Michigan, managed and kept open to the public by the Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association.

For more information, visit our web site at www.splka.org