I discovered that Emmet County, Michigan, rents out an apartment next to the McGulpin Point Lighthouse.
This light sits on the Lake Michigan, Lower Peninsula beach of the Straits of Mackinac. It’s less than 5 miles from downtown Mackinaw City.
The United States Lighthouse Board built this lighthouse in 1868-1869.
We ended up at the McGulpin Point Lighthouse’s beach s0 that we could view the Lake Michigan side of the Mackinac Bridge.
(FYI if you judge me on my spelling: Mackinaw City is correctly spelled with a “w.” The Mackinac Bridge, Straits, and Island are all spelled with a “c.”)
Stay Here If You Dare
On the lighthouse’s website, I found a link to a “A Brief History of the McGulpin Point Lighthouse” by Terry Pepper. According to Pepper, the lighthouse keeper, James Davenport, lived at McGulpin Point during the shipping seasons with his wife and children. In 1891, his wife and one of his children died. One day in December 1893, Keeper Davenport traveled to Mackinaw City and left his nine surviving children at the lighthouse.
Out on the Straits, the Waldo A. Avery (a wooden propeller) caught fire. The captain steered the burning boat full steam toward the McGulpin Point Lighthouse so that the crew would have a chance at rescue.
Now, according to Pepper’s article, “the children were a resourceful group, and made preparations for the care of the survivors.” I took this to mean that the kids got the rescue boat ready.
Keeper Davenport and the townsfolk of Mackinaw City got word of the shipwreck. Davenport and several men booked it to the lighthouse and managed to rescue the entire crew.
In my opinion, this little story buried in the middle of Pepper’s article was the most interesting part.
I want to know more about the adult lives of these Davenport kids. If you grow up at a lighthouse and think on your feet when you see a burning ship heading straight toward you, then you can handle whatever else life throws in your lap.
The Australian Diary
This story of the wreck at McGulpin Point reminds of a website that I found years ago and bookmarked about lighthouses in Australia. Unfortunately, the link that I bookmarked no longer works and I haven’t found a new link to the information. Anyway, this website included excerpts from the diary of an Australian lighthouse keeper’s wife – that is, the third keeper’s wife. As in, this particular lighthouse had three keepers. The diary writer’s husband ranked third – last – in the seniority rank of the three lighthouse keepers.
Anyway, this wife of the third-ranked Australian lighthouse keeper journaled about the aftermath of a shipwreck at this lighthouse, in the fog, during her husband’s shift. When the diary writer witnessed the disaster, she first wondered in a panic if her husband would be blamed for the incident. Did he fall asleep and let the light go out in the fog? Then she started on her own first aid duties in the rescue of this ship’s passenger and crew. At the beginning, everything was in her lap to handle. As soon as the wives of the second-ranked and first-ranked lighthouse keepers showed up on the scene, she let them take charge of the first aid response.
Isn’t this just the parable of life? Out of nowhere, a huge mess falls into your lap. You wonder how you and yours are going to be blamed for the whole thing. Did you do enough to CYA? It’s too late now; this baby is now your mess to handle! Then someone with more rank shows up and pushes you out of the way.
If you can’t take the heat, stay away from the lighthouse keeper’s family life.
The Big Rock
Now, the website for the McGulpin Point Lighthouse also promotes the “McGulpin Rock” which the website also refers to as the “Big Rock.”
The website claims that the Big Rock is five times the original size of Plymouth Rock in New England. According to the website, French explorers in the 1600’s used the Big Rock in order to gauge the water levels on the Straits of Mackinac.
Did René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle use the Big Rock when he explored the Straits of Mackinac?
I saw signs for the Big Rock when we visited McGulpin Point. In fact, other visitors stopped me to ask for directions to the Big Rock. To be honest, I didn’t actually try to find the Big Rock myself. I was hot, tired, and cranky.
So, you will have to settle for this photo of a couple of seagulls sitting on a Normal Rock at McGulpin Point.
To reiterate, this is NOT the Big Rock.
Do you have a special rock that you like to visit?