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Mamajuda Range, MI  Lighthouse destroyed.   

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Mamajuda Range Lighthouse

1849 – SIR: In continuation of the report which I had the honor to submit to the honorable Committee on Commerce of the Senate, under date of the 15th December, 1848, in relation to the execution of the law of the 14th August, 1848, entitled “An act making appropriations for lighthouses, light-boats, buoys, &c, and providing for the erection and establishment of the same,” and which report was printed by order of the Senate at the special session in March, 1849, and numbered one, I now proceed to detail what has been done under the several appropriations, beginning with:
For two beacons on Detroit river, at Mamajuda and Grass island, $7,000. These beacons have been built and lit for the sum of $4,589.

1850 – Mamajuda beacon, June 27, 1850 - Everything in good order. Conduct of keeper good.

1855 – Keeper George Dotey $350

1865 – Upon an examination of the light house at Mamajuda, it was found necessary to rebuild it, the present structures not being thought worthy of the repairs required to make them habitable. Temporary measures of protection have been adopted, and a special estimate to cover the cost of rebuilding is submitted.

1866 – The light-house on Mamajuda shoals, Detroit river, for the rebuilding of which an appropriation was made in April last, has been completed.

1868 Mamajuda.—In very good condition.

1869 – Mamajuda.—A new boat-house has been built. The premises are now in good condition.

1880 – Mamajuda Shoals, Detroit River, Michigan. The light was changed from a fixed white of the sixth order to a fixed red light of the fourth order on the opening of navigation in the spring of 1880.

1880 – Mamajuda,Detroit River, Michigan.—A fourth-order lens was put in and the color of the light changed to red. The dwelling and lantern were repainted inside and outside. The walls and ceilings of the dwelling were replastered, the roof was repaired, and the station was put in good order.

1885 – Mamajuda, on Mamajuda Shoal, Detroit River, Michigan.—Several of the piles which support the platform around the dwelling were replaced by new ones.

1887 – Mamajuda, on Mamajuda Shoal, Detroit River, Michigan.—The keeper was furnished with the material for renewing the deck of the boat-landing, and minor repairs were made.

1888 – Mamajuda, on Mamajuda Shoal, Detroit River, Michigan.—The Board has taken the proper steps to annul the existing leases of the fisheries off this station and off Grassy Island Shoal light-station, also in this river. It is now proposed to lease these fishing privileges after due advertisement to the highest bidders, with certain restrictions and conditions for the comfort, convenience, and safety of the light keepers at these stations.

1889 – Mamajuda and Grassy Island Fisheries, Detroit River, Michigan.— The leases which were held at a nominal rate for the fisheries off Mamajuda light-station and off Grassy Island light-station were annulled on December 1, 1888, and a five-year lease was awarded to the highest bidder at an annual rental of $600. The proceeds of rental of these shoals subsequent to April 1,1888, and up to December 1,1888, were covered into the Treasury, as well as the amount received from the existing lease up to January 28, 1890, after deducting the expenses incidental to leasing these shoals. The Board received and placed on file a tracing of the survey of the islands, together with negatives of photographic views taken at different localities; also report relating to metes and bounds of the parcel of land and shoals.

1889 – Mamajuda, on Mamajuda Shoal, Detroit River, Michigan. —A quitclaim deed was obtained from the estate of the former lessee of the Mamajuda Island and Shoal for all the improvements made by him during his occupancy of the above premises. The improvements consisted of one fish pond 170 feet in width and 250 feet in length, docks, ice house, seine or store house, cook-house, kitchen, cooper shop, stables, and several small sheds. After the transfer six of the old structures were torn down, leaving the cook-house, ice-house, store-house, and cooper shop, as well as the keeper’s old dwelling. The sound material taken from the six old structures was utilized in building a tight board fence 6 feet high and 173 feet long across the upper north end of the island, thus separating the fish pond from the island. The rest of the material was used in strengthening the coffer-dam surrounding the keeper’s dwelling at Grassy Island light-station, Michigan. The store or seine house at the southwest corner of the island was converted into a boat-house by cutting double doors, and constructing in front of them a sloping platform on which to draw out the boat. A raised walk 7 feet wide and 31 feet long was built, which connects the island with the platform in front of the north end of the new boat-house. A doorway was cut in the east side of the boat-house, and a plank walk 3 feet wide and 161 feet long was laid from this doorway to the foot-bridge which connects the dwelling with the island. The plan for converting some of the standing structures into an assistant keeper’s dwelling for the proposed Grosse Isle ranges was carried into effect by moving the keeper’s old dwelling lengthwise in front of the north end of the cook-house, and building a stoop in front of the cook-house, and extending a porch to the keeper’s old dwelling. It is proposed to expend $350 in putting these structures in good repair.

1890 – Mamajuda and Grassy Island fisheries, Detroit River, Michigan.— The sum of $600 was collected and deposited to the credit of the United States Treasurer, being the proceeds of one year’s rental in advance for these shoals, under lease dated January 28, 1889. Permission was given the lessees of the fisheries to use the fish-pound located upon the Mamajuda Shoal, with the full understanding that the permission to use the pound does not include permission to land on the island; that they are to construct a dock or landing on the upper end of the pound for their own use, without any expense to the United States; that all improvements made are to revert to the United States; that no compensation whatever shall be paid therefor by the United States, and that the permission so granted is revokable, for reasons, at the pleasure of the Board, all of which was assented to by the lessees. They asked for a rebate in rent for Grassy Island fishery. They were then furnished with a copy of the decision of the Solicitor of the Treasury, relative to allowing them rebate on rent for being prevented from taking possession of the Grassy Island fishery. They were also advised that legal assistance would be furnished them in defending the suit brought against them by the estate of George Clark.

1891 – Mamajuda, on Mamajuda Shoal, Detroit River, Michigan.—The metalwork for a circular oil house which was obtained under contract was delivered to the tender at Cleveland, Ohio, which transported it to the station, together with the necessary cement for foundation and brick lining. The oil house will soon be erected near the southeast corner of the island and about on line with the east face of the Mamajuda light keeper’s dwelling. Various repairs were made.

1891 – Mamajuda and Grassy Island Fisheries, Detroit River, Michigan.— Some $400 were collected and deposited to the credit of the United States, being a year’s rental in advance for these shoals under lease dated January 29, 1889.

1892 – Mamajuda, on Mamajuda Shoal, Detroit River, Michigan.—A circular iron oil house of 225 gallons’ capacity was erected on a concrete foundation and lined with brick laid up in cement mortar. It is located in the southwest corner of the island, and protected from the sun by two willow trees. The timber platform around the keeper’s dwelling was renewed, in doing which the tops of 85 decayed piles were cut off 8 inches below the ordinary stage of the water, a 6 by 10 inch cap was placed over the piles to receive the 10 by 12 inch by 6-foot posts which support the framework covered with 3-inch plank, and the decayed part of the fence around the platform was repaired with new material. Various repairs were made.

1892 – Mamajuda and Grassy Island Fisheries, Detroit River, Michigan.— The lease of these fisheries by the United States, which was made on January 28,1891, was revoked on November 21,1891, by the Secretary of the Treasury, and permission was given on January 15,1892, to the Michigan fish commissioners to occupy the fisheries without charge, for the legitimate objects of the commission.

1893 – Mamajuda Range Light, Michigan.—An appropriation of $1,500 for the establishment of this light was made by the act approved August 5,1892. The purpose of this light is to form with the present light on Mamajuda Island a range to mark the channel between Grassy and Mamajuda islands. A survey was made and the range line was located from Mamajuda Light to a point in the channel opposite Grassy Island Light. A map was made showing the range line with soundings and the location selected for the new beacon. Plans for the proposed beacon were made.

1894 – Mamajuda,on Mamajuda Shoal, Detroit River, Michigan.—Eleven cords of stone were delivered along the east shore of the island in riprap form to protect the shore from washing away. Various repairs were made.

1894 – Mamajuda Island range light, Detroit River, Michigan.—The beacon for this light was completed and was ready for lighting July 16, 1894. This beacon in connection with the main light forms a range to the northward past Grassy Island, and is a guide to keep vessels off the shoals between Mamajuda and Grassy islands.

1895 – Mamajuda Island range light, Detroit River, Michigan.— The front beacon light, which was completed in June, 1894, was first exhibited by the middle of the following month. This beacon, with the main light, forms a range to keep vessels off the upper shoals between Grassy Island and Mamajuda Island. A layer of stone was placed along the water line of this island to protect it against the wash of the waves and the current of the river. Some 19 cords were placed on the north side, 2 cords on the west side the length of the boathouse, and about 58 cords on the south side. The foundation of the front beacon was surrounded by a riprap of stone to protect the beacon against the ice. Various repairs were made

1896 – Mamajuda Island Range light, Detroit River, Michigan.— A storm house was built over the west door. Some 200 feet of 2-inch galvanized-iron pipe was laid in the river.

1897 – Mamajuda Island Range lights, Detroit River, Michigan.— A walk 400 feet long, with iron hand rail, on a single row of piles, was built by contract between the north shore of the island and the front beacon. Minor repairs were made.

1899 – Mamajuda range lights, Detroit River, Michigan.—The tops of piles of the foundation of the boat house were cut off below the water level, and replaced with dimension posts stayed in place with braces. Various repairs were made.

1900 – Mamajuda range rear light-station, Detroit River, Michigan.—Light reestablished in new tower and height of light increased May 31, 1900.

1900 – Mamajuda range, Detroit River, Michigan.—The pile landing wharf was rebuilt. The rear tower was rebuilt, circular plan, and increased in height 12 feet. Various repairs were made.

1901 – Mamajuda range, Detroit River, Michigan.—The front beacon was leveled up on its pile foundation, and 100 running feet of the elevated walk connecting the beacon with the shore was leveled and strengthened. Various repairs were made.

1905 – Mamajuda range, Detroit River, Michigan.—The keeper’s dwelling and rear beacon were moved northerly along the range line about 127 feet on to the southerly part of Mamajuda Island and set upon a brick foundation, and the dwelling was thoroughly repaired. A 2-inch iron water pipe 148 feet long was laid below frost line from the keeper’s dwelling to the channel bank. The front beacon was moved about 200 feet northerly along the range line and placed on a new substructure 6 feet high, containing one finished room, upon a pile of foundation surrounded with riprap with sloping sides. A concrete sea wall 605 feet long was built along the north, south, and east sides of the island. Ten tons of riprap stone were placed in front of this wall. The grounds about the keeper’s dwelling were graded. Some 14 running feet of board walk, 148 square feet of cement walk, and a temporary wooden walk 200 feet long were built, leading to the front beacon.

1906 – Mamajuda range. Detroit River, Michigan.—Some 1,494 tons of riprap stone were placed along the line of the walk leading from the shore of the island to the front beacon to make a permanent way to the beacon. A storm house was built over the outside entrance to the keeper’s dwelling.

1917 – Mamajuda Range Lights discontinued as such, the front light discontinued, and the rear light retained, changed from fixed red to fixed white, with increase of candlepower to about 490. This light is known as Mamajuda Light Station.

1921 – Fighting Island Channel straightened. At Grosse Island an acetylene light in a fifth-order lens was installed in the old frame tower. At Mamajuda, Grassy Island, and Ecorse the old structures were removed and 200-millimeter acetylene lights established on 25-foot structural steel towers on steel tank houses with concrete foundations. The entire system is nonattended, but is under the observation of a keeper in the locality, whose duty it is to keep the aids in a serviceable condition. The work was begun in the fall of 1916 and completed June, 1921, at a cost of $24,916.16.

1921 – Mamajuda Light Station. Mamajuda Light Station was changed on March 31,1921, to show a flashing white light every 2 seconds, of 70 candlepower, 25 feet above water on a black skeleton tower, on a concrete pier, at a point on easterly edge of island.

1954 – Mamajuda electrified and candlepower increased.


  • Head: David B. Johnson (1849 – 1853), George Doty (1853 – 1861), Oliver Colburn (1861 – 1866), William Stewart (1866 – 1867), Augustus B. Clark (1867 – 1873), Barney Litogot (1873), Caroline Litogot (1874 – 1885), Orlo J. Mason (1885 – 1893), Enoch W. Scribner (1893 – 1899), James T. Story (1899 – 1911), Thomas L. Kean (1911), Xavier Rains (1911 – 1912), Charles J. Price (1912 – 1921).
  • Assistant: James A. Beloungea (1920 – 1921).

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