Detroit River Light
By Dave Wobser

Completed in 1885 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at a cost of $78,000, the Detroit River Light replaced a Canadian lightship that had served since 1875. The light was first exhibited August 20, 1885. Located near the end Bar Shoal which projects from the Canadian shore, in Lake Erie just south of the entrance into the Detroit River. This is the point where up bound vessels make the turn into the Detroit River.

The 49-feet high cast iron plate tower is 22-feet in diameter at the base and 18-feet at the top. It was built on a pre-fabricated 45' x 18', crib that was transported to the site from Amherstburg, Ontario, sunk in 22-feet of water, filled with concrete and surrounded by a granite pier.

The light station pier has the appearance of a vessel, with the pointed end directed toward the mouth of the river to break ice flows coming down river.

The construction of the station was tested in December 1997 when the 635-foot freighter Buffalo struck the station dead on while sailing downbound for Lake Eire. Damage to the station was minimal involving only the structure's rock and stone foundation.

The freighter faired much worse with its steel bow push in like a tin can. The station's stone pier torn a 25-foot gash across the bow of the freighter which then took on water. The vessel was able to control the flooding and continued on for repairs.

The lens has been changed several times to change the characteristics. The present lens has six panels of 60 degrees, with three bull's-eye panels each separated from the other by a 60 degree blind panel.

The station contains a fog signal, and is similar to Harbor Beach Lighthouse which also was built in 1885. The station is an active aid to navigation and is only visible from a boat.

Click on image to enlarge

Photograph by Dave Wobser

Location: South Rockwood, Michigan
Date Built: 1885
Active: Yes

Open to public:

No
Directions
Can be viewed by boat.
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