General Orlando M. Poe
Who was this person, Orlando M. Poe, who designed and built so many Great Lakes lighthouses?
Orlando Metcalfe Poe was a native of Navarre, Ohio, born in 1832. He graduated from the Military Academy at West Point in 1856. Poe served as a surveyor and engineer to several units during the Civil War. He was General Sherman’s Chief Engineer during Sherman’s ‘March To The Sea’. After the end of the war, Poe remained with Sherman as an engineering aid.
Poe was named District Engineer for the Eleventh Lighthouse District, in 1890, and during the next ten years he designed the eight lighthouse towers that honor his name. They are located at Presque Isle (1870) on Lake Huron, on Lake Michigan’s South Manitou Island (1872), Grosse Point (1873) in Evanston, Illinois, Au Sable (1874) on Lake Superior, Wind Point (1880) near Racine, Wisconsin; Outer Island (1874) in the Apostle Islands, Little Sable (1874) on Lake Michigan, and Seul Choix near Manistique, Michigan which was not completed until 1895.
In addition to the eight familiar "Poe-Style" lighthouses, he also designed the Spectacle Reef Light in northern Lake Huron.
In 1883, Colonel Poe was made Superintending Engineer of the Soo Canal. The first Poe Lock was built by Poe, but not completed until 1896 after his death, was named for him, as was the second Poe Lock built in 1968.
Poe died in Detroit on October 2, 1895, before completion of the first Poe Lock, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
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