Stannard Rock Light
By Dave Wobser

Mighty Lake Superior has depths as much as 1200 feet, but it also has islands that break the surface and some that donít surface. Stannard Rock is the top of a mountain lurking just below the surface, some 44 miles north of Marquette Michigan. It is often referred to as the loneliest place on the Great Lakes.

The shoal extends as much as a quarter of a mile with depths from 30 inches to 20 feet. Discovered in 1835 by Captain Charles C. Stannard of the vessel John Jacob Astor, this danger to shipping was know as Stannardís Rock for much of its history.

It was not until 1866 that the idea of marking the shoal was discussed, and after the opening of the Soo Locks an iron post was installed in 1868 to mark the danger. Construction on the lighthouse did not start until 1878.

The lighthouse is similar to Spectacle Reef Light which was built three years earlier in northern Lake Huron. Spectacle Reef is a hazard to navigation much like Stannard Rock. Construction techniques and equipment from Spectacle Reef were used in building Stannard Rock and the final cost was $305,000.

The conical tower and small attached building are constructed of limestone blocks that were mined and pre-fitted near Marblehead, Ohio. The base is a cofferdam filled with rock and concrete.

The original light was activated in 1882 and produced a 1,400,000 candlepower light through a Third Order Fresnel lens manufactured by Le Paute of Paris. The light was rotated by a clockwork mechanism and was fueled by kerosene.

An explosion in 1962 in a fuel tank destroyed much of the interior and killed one of the three man crew. The next year the light was replaced by a 3,000 candlepower minor light and automated.

Because of the location, this lighthouse can only be seen by boat or airplane. It remains as an active aid to navigation.


Click on image to enlarge

Photograph by Dave Wobser

Location: In Lake Superior, 44 miles north of Marquette, Michigan.
Date Built: 1878-1882
Active: Yes

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