During its incredible 140 year existence, Michigan’s Point aux Barques Lighthouse l6-panel 3rd order Fresnel lens has travelled to many places, but, on August 23, 2013, it finally returned to where it was originally meant to be.
The now historic lens started out in Paris, France where it had been manufactured by the firm of Henry-LePaute. In 1873 it then travelled across the ocean to the United States where it was received by the United States Light House Establishment. It then travelled onboard the lighthouse tender Haze to the Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse where workmen installed the lens in the tower. And, that’s where it remained until 1969 when the Coast Guard removed the lens and it was crated up and shipped to the Lighthouse Depot in Detroit, Michigan.
However, in January of the following year it was shipped to the Grice Museum in Harbor Beach, Michigan. In 1987 the lens was moved and put on display at the Huron City Museums in Huron City, Michigan. However, a 2013 federal lawsuit claimed that the lens should never have been allowed to be placed in the Huron City Museums, where it was not fully protected. So the lens was packed up and moved again, this time to the Harbor Beach Coast Guard Station. From there it was shipped back to its original home at the Point aux Barques Lighthouse. Getting the lens returned, restored, and put on proper display at the Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse was no easy task, as anyone familiar with bureaucracy would understand. Plus, the lens required special insurance.
Ron Burkhard, Bill Bonner, and others of the Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse Society are to be commended for their tenacity in having the lens returned to the lighthouse. The museum at the Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse, near Huron City, Michigan, is open free to the public from Memorial Day to October 15 every year and is well worth the visit. To learn more, you can visit their web site at www.PointauxBarquesLighthouse.org.
This story appeared in the
Nov/Dec 2013 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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