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Belle Isle, MI  Lighthouse destroyed.   

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Belle Isle Lighthouse

1877 - Head of Belle Isle, Detroit River, Michigan.—A light should be established at the northern point of Belle Isle to guide vessels into the south channel of the Detroit River, which is almost exclusively used. The reefs extending out from Isle aux Peche and Belle Isle make it difficult to strike this channel in dark nights, and a large number of vessels annually ground on one or other of these reefs. They are almost invariably compelled to call tow-boats to their assistance and are thus subjected to loss of money and time. An appropriation of $10,000 for this station is recommended.

1878 – Head of Belle Isle, Michigan.—A fixed red light should be established at the head of Belle Isle, to guide vessels into the channel south of the island and enable them to avoid the reefs which make out from Isle aux Peches and Belle Isle. This has been referred to in the last four annual reports. An appropriation of $10,000 is needed for this station.

1879 – Head of Belle Isle, Michigan.—A fixed red light should be established at the Head of Belle Isle, to guide vessels into the channel east of the island and enable them to avoid the reefs which make out from Isle aux Peches and Belle Isle. An appropriation of $10,000 is recommended for this station.

1880 – Head of Belle Isle, Detroit River, Michigan.—An appropriation of $10,000 was made by Congress, at its last session, for the erection of a light at this point. The work will be commenced as soon as possible

1881 – Belle Isle, Detroit River, Michigan.—The title to the site for a lighthouse at the head of this island was approved, and the necessary structures will be built during the present season.

1882 – Belle Isle, Detroit River, Michigan, May 15, 1882 - new light.

1882 – Belle Isle, on Belle Isle, at the head of the Detroit River, Michigan.— The tower was completed and the light was shown for the first time on the night of May 15, 1882. The keeper’s dwelling was begun and carried up to the first floor, and will soon be completed, as the appropriation of $6,000, made for the purpose by act of August 7, 1882, has become available.

1883 – Belle Isle, at head of Belle Isle, Detroit River, Michigan.— With the appropriation of $6,000, made August 7, 1882, the erection of a light-house tower, keeper’s dwelling, and boat-house, and the construction of a stone retaining-wall around the site were completed at the northern end of this island, and an iron railing was constructed, part of it was set in place on top of the retaining-wall, and the grounds around the dwelling and tower were sodded. When the erection of the railing is finished, the station will be complete and in good order.

1889 – Belle Isle, Detroit River, Michigan.—The pier under the bridge leading to the dwelling was rebuilt, and various minor repairs were made.

1890 – Eight circular iron oil-houses were procured, under contract of June 24, 1889, and six of these were delivered at the stations for which they were intended, viz: Windmill Point, Belle Isle, Upper and Lower St Clair Flats Canal, Fort Gratiot, and Cheboygan. The Cheboygan and Windmill Point oil-houses are now in service; the others await funds to erect them. The houses are of two sizes, one 7 feet in diameter and 7 feet high, with capacity for forty-five cases of oil or 225 gallons; the other, 8 feet in diameter, 8 feet 6 inches high, and capacity for seventy-two cases or 360 gallons. The inside shelving is of iron, and between this and the shell a brick wall is laid up in cement. The larger house has ample capacity for the oil needed by a third-order light run the year round. They are light and portable, and can be set up at the stations without the employment of skilled labor. By far the greater number of light-stations are unprovided with oil-houses, and their supplies are either kept in the dwelling or under the tower, exposed to danger of fire, in which case the station would probably be destroyed.

1890 – Belle Isle, Detroit River, Michigan.—The sidewalks were rebuilt. A boat-landing was constructed with a walk leading to the boat-house. The water supply was improved and a sewer pipe was laid from the dwelling to the channel bank. A circular iron oil-house, of 225 gallons’ capacity, was delivered at the station and will soon be erected.

1891 – Belle Isle, Detroit River, Michigan.—A circular iron oil house of 225 gallons’ capacity was erected, and various repairs were made.

1898 – Belle Isle, Detroit River, Michigan.—On account of the high water, the boathouse was moved 60 feet shoreward to a safe position. The grounds were graded with 275 cubic yards of clay and loam, and one part sodded and the other seeded with lawn grass. The sidewalk around the dwelling and to the boathouse were renewed. Repairs were made.

1899 – Belle Isle, Detroit River, Michigan.—The light-house grounds were graded and seeded in grass.

1930 - Intensity of light increased to 3,100 candlepower.

1935 – A combined flagpole and light mast was designed for Belle Isle Lighthouse at Belle Isle Park on the Detroit River in the eleventh district and erected near the river as an alternate to raising the tower of the main lighthouse structure, or carrying out extensive trimming of the foliage from park trees which would otherwise have been necessary. The combined pole was made of pleasing appearance to harmonize with its surroundings. It is 70 feet in height from the ground to the top and carries a bracket at a height of 40 feet on which a 300 mm aluminum lantern is supported. This elevation is practically the same as the present light tower. The lantern can be raised or lowered by a small hand winch adjacent to the pole and is equipped with a 300-watt electric lamp using commercial power. The electrical circuits are arranged so that a warning bell is operated and a reserve light in the main tower is turned on in the event of current failure. Plans of the combined mast and flagpole are available in the office of the superintendent of lighthouses, Detroit, Mich.

1941 – Belle Isle Lighthouse was demolished in the fall of 1941 to make room for a $250,000 Coast Guard station.

1943 – Belle Isle Light was transferred to the Coast Guard station’s new brick lookout tower, where its focal plane was thirty-three feet higher than on the flagpole. The Coast Guard station is still active on Belle Isle, not far from the memorial lighthouse, and Belle Isle Light is displayed from a pole on the property.

1943 – Belle Isle Light was raised 33 feet and relocated atop the brick lookout tower at the Lake St. Clair Coast Guard Station.

Keepers: Anson Badger (1882 – 1886), Louis Fetes (1886 – 1907), George Sherman (1907 – 1908), Louis Fetes (1908 – 1930).

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