This past September, intrepid songwriter, entertainer, adventurer, and author Carl Bearfoot Behrend took on the daunting task of hanging in a bosun’s chair to power-wash and then paint the 71-foot tall Middle Island Lighthouse on an island in Michigan’s Lake Huron.
For a number of years, Carl’s music has been popular around the Great Lakes and he can often be found performing songs from his Legends of the Great Lakes series of CDs at numerous maritime events, including the annual Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival held in Alpena, Michigan. There has even been talk about his best-selling book, Legend of the Christmas Ship being made into a movie.
The 1905 Middle Island Lighthouse was originally an all buff color but was changed in the 1950s to include a black band, which was later changed to red. The light station with its elaborate keeper’s quarters was destaffed in October of 1961 and left abandoned. In the 1980s a local effort was launched to save the structures on the island, which once also included a life-saving station, but that effort failed and the government put the property up for sale. In 1989 Marv Theut was the high bidder in a sealed auction and he became the new owner of the light station that included everything but the tower, which remained under Coast Guard control. He and his family then started the long task of saving the light station.
In an effort to draw attention to saving lighthouses, Theut then cofounded the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival and he also founded the Middle Island Lighthouse Keepers Association (MILKA). Finally, in 2012, under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, MILKA was awarded ownership of the Middle Island light tower, thereby once again making the light station complete. This past October the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival celebrated its 19th annual event.
Now that he’s painted the tower at Middle Island Lighthouse and having also painted a number of other lighthouses, including the Point Iroquois Lighthouse, Carl Barefoot Behrend says he’s ready to paint more lighthouses.
This story appeared in the
Nov/Dec 2014 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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