LOOKING FOR ANSWERS

By CHRISTIE BLECK

Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE – Considered the most remote lighthouse in North America, the Stannard Rock Lighthouse, located more than 40 miles north of Marquette, could be used to further climate research.

Situated on a shallow, rocky shoal in Lake Superior, the lighthouse is considered the most remote lighthouse in North America as it’s farther from shore than any other lighthouse on the Great Lakes, the East Coast or the West Coast.

The federal government recently transferred ownership of the historic lighthouse to the Marquette-based Superior Watershed Partnership, a Great Lakes nonprofit organization. The SWP plans to expand Great Lakes climate research at the lighthouse and involve the Great Lakes Conservation Corps in historic renovation projects.

“Lake Superior is being uniquely impacted by climate change,” SWP Executive Director Carl Lindquist said. “Better climate monitoring helps the SWP better assist communities with planning and implementing climate adaptation projects.”

The SWP, he said, is grateful for the U.S. Coast Guard Marquette staff who provided transportation for the lighthouse site inspection.

Recently retired Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, expressed his pleasure over the transfer, saying in a news release: “I worked to pass the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act in 2000 to allow for just this sort of transfer, which will preserve a historic treasure and give the community a new tool to promote tourism and encourage respect for the natural wonder and maritime history of our Great Lakes.”

Great Lakes author and historian Fred Stonehouse of Marquette considers the Stannard Rock Lighthouse unique among the hundreds of maritime structures on the Great Lakes, calling it one of the top 10 engineering marvels in the United States; the lighthouse was completed in 1882 and is the most difficult ever built in the United States.

It also was called one of the “loneliest,” he said.

“This was the one with the most distance from civilization,” Stonehouse said.

The lighthouse, he noted, was built on the shore near L’Anse using sandstone from Kelleys Island in Lake Erie. It was built on this site, he explained, to make sure construction way out in Lake Superior was possible.

Stannard Rock, Stonehouse pointed out, was on the shipping path between Duluth, Minnesota, and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

The spot also had strong weather.

“The storms would be so hard out there that cans on shelves would be shaken off,” Stonehouse said.

Stannard Rock Lighthouse now is considered a prime lake trout fishing spot. In fact, it was considered great fishing in the past with former lighthouse keepers catching fish and trading them to commercial fishermen, he said.

The lighthouse’s original 12-foot glass lens is housed at the Marquette Maritime Museum as a “piece of local history,” as Stonehouse put it.

The SWP is a regional leader in addressing climate change and helping communities with coastal resiliency projects.

The SWP has also developed regional climate adaptation plans and assisted in forming a regional Climate Adaptation Task Force. The SWP collaborates with U.S. and Canadian Universities, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other partners on Great Lakes climate research using the Stannard Rock Lighthouse. Research capabilities were expanded recently when several new Great Lakes monitoring buoys were deployed in cooperation with Northern Michigan University.

“Stannard Rock is a critical research site within the Great Lakes Evaporation Network,” said John Lenters, a climatologist with LimnoTech, in a news release. “Data from the lighthouses and buoys are improving our observations of over-lake meteorology and evaporation, which is important for predicting Great Lakes water levels.”

The SWP has established a fundraising program to help support historic renovation and preservation projects at the lighthouse. Individuals, businesses, architectural firms, construction companies and charter boat companies are invited to get involved with the renovation project.

Young adults ages 18-25 will be employed through the SWP’s Great Lakes Conservation Corps to assist with special renovation projects at the lighthouse.

The fundraising goal, Lindquist said, is $100,000.

For more information about supporting climate research or the Stannard Rock Lighthouse renovation, contact the SWP at 906-228-6095 or visit www.superiorwatersheds.org.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.