USCG Lookout Stations on the St. Marys River
Beginning in 1902, there were seven lookout stations establish along the St. Marys River. The purpose of the stations were to report traffic to the Army Corps of Engineers at the Soo Locks. Pictures of the lookout stations are often mistaken for lighthouses.
The stations were connected to the locks by telephone land lines. The stations were two-story buildings approximately 20' by 20'. The lower level was sleeping quarters and the upper level was an enclosed lookout with a gallery around the outside. They were manned by two men who each worked 12-hour shifts.
The first three stations were built in 1902. Station #1 was at Johnson's Point, #2 was at Stribling Dike, and #3 was at Little Rapids Cut better known today as Mission Point. Station #1 was converted to video surveillance in 1996 and the two-story building was removed. Station #2 was disabled in 1949 and has disappeared.
Station #3 was replaced by a closed circuit television camera on a steel tower just up river from the Sugar Island ferry dock in 1965. This was the first camera to go into operation and cost $27,864.80. The original building burned down in 1976.
Lookout Station #4 was established in 1908 at the head of the Neebish Island Rock Cut. It was automated in 1976, and still in use today. Take the Scenic River drive in Barbeau, Michigan, and go to the Neebish Island Ferry Dock. The Lookout Station is on your right, at the entrance to the Rock Cut.
In 1912, Senator Charles E. Townsend of Michigan introduced a bill to consolidate the Life-Saving Service and Revenue Cutter Service to form the Coast Guard. The bill became law on 28 January 1915. By 1916, the Coast Guard established an office in the Federal Building at Sault Ste. Marie. Landline connections for all the lookout stations were transferred to the new Coast Guard offices.
Lookout Station #5 was established on Moon Island in Munuscong Lake in 1916, and disabled in 1949.
After World War II, many of the lookout stations were closed; the ones that remained open were equipped with closed-circuit television cameras and radar. The radar was installed to monitor the speed of ships on the St. Mary’s River. The speed limit for a freighter on the river is 10 mile per hour. Exceeding this limit can result in fines of several thousands of dollars, levied against the captain of the freighter.
Lookout Station #6, at Brush Point, was established in 1918, and disabled in 1957. The last station, Lookout #7, was established on Nine Mile Point on Sugar Island in 1934. It was disabled in 1949.
In 1952, a new Coast Guard facility was built along the shores of the St Marys River on Water Street. That facility remains the current location of the Sector today.
This information was collected from the USCG website, Ray Turnbull, and Edward T. Cook at www.Lighthouse.net
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