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SOME PAINT JOBS NEEDED

A forum to discuss lighthouses in the US Great Lakes Region
(Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and the lake lighthouses of New York & Pennsylvania)

Postby CHUCKX53 » Mon Jun 08, 2009 3:43 am


While bopping around in upper Lake Michigan last summer, from the Manitous to South Fox to Beaver to Skillaglaee to Squaw to Lansing to Gray's Reef, Waugoshance, & White Shoal, I couldn't help but notice a couple of lights looked badly in need of some paint jobs, even since the last time I saw them -- North Manitou Shoal & White Shoal............

How often do these lights get painted ?? Once a Decade ?? I have some shots I took of these two from 2001 and they looked Super Great. Now, they just look neglected. It must be a dissapointment to the people who go out on Sheppler's to White Shoal just to see faded red swirls on this light -- Not to mention the number of people who pass by North Manitou on the way to South Manitou Island (Which looks really good).

I know times are bad, But it seems a small portion of the fed's 'stimulus' money could be used for a spiffy paint job. These lights deserve better than this.
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Postby Terry_Pepper » Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:49 am


Your comment on the lighthouses being painted every ten years is pretty well on target. In collaboration with Shepler's Lighthouse Cruises, we narrate 40 westbound cruises past these lights every summer, and it has been really disheartening to see them deteriorating. The cormorants roosting on the lights are certainly not helping the problem either.

In recent meetings I have attended, the Coast Guard has made it clear that they wish to disestablish as many lighthouses as possible, as quickly as possible. It is their position that in these days of RADAR, GPS and combined computerized systems, the lighthouses are no longer as critical as they used to be, and they aree no longer considered an important part of their current government-mandated security-focused mission.

Painting lighthouses is not a cheap proposition, and requires a huge investment in equipment and personnel. (The days of dangling from a boatswain’s chair with a paintbrush in one hand and a can of paint in the other are long gone.) Add to that the existence of years of lead-based paint which must be cocooned if scraped, and you are looking at a huge price tag. While nobody likes to see these venerable structures neglected in this manner, I fear it's going to get worse with time.

One hope (and an initiative in which we at GLLKA have been deeply involved for the past year) is that Michigan and the Federal Government can come to agreement as to what happens to the bottomlands beneath these lighthouses as a result of their being transferred, and the lights can be listed on NHLPA and transferred to non-profits or local government entities who can take care of them.

Of course, the issues of financial impact which is causing the structure to be ignored by the Coast Guard will carry through to any new steward. One can only wonder if there are any groups with a sufficiently strong fundraising machine, or individuals with deep enough pockets which could support taking on such an incredibly expensive project as White Shoal.

The Detour Reef Light Preservation Society was able to pull off their restoration while there were still numerous grant opportunities, with some of these grants allowing other grants to serve as a match. Most all of these grants have dried-up, and with a failing economy raising the huge amounts of funding needed to take on a light like White Shoal will be extremely difficult to come by. That whole project ended up costing close to 1.5 million dollars. As a result of their far greater distance from shore, the costs associated with restoration and preservation at White Shoal and Grays Reef would pile up exponentially.

In short, I fear it will get worse befor it gets better.
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Postby CHUCKX53 » Mon Jun 08, 2009 5:28 am


Thanks for your reply, Terry -- I have been out past White Shoal almost every year since 2001 -- I kept going out in order to get better shots of Gray's Reef and Waugoshance, and White Shoal was always part of the trip -- Last went out on a charter with John Bonadeo organized by Jerry Roach last August -- and noticed year after year how the red has faded more and more, and the bird goo --Shades of Pilot Island !! You may remember our GLLKA trip in 2006 from Mackinac to Charlevoix and Beaver & the nice little downpour heading back ------
I did finally get some real close shots of Waugoshance from the East side -- never got around on that side before -- and of Gray's Reef and Skillagalee, so I might not get back there anytime soon -- I do want to get up to Mackanic to re-take McGulpin's this summer -- What a GREAT job you guys did there, I got a look at the shots for the first time this morning, and it looks AWESOME !! If you have a schedule for summer hours when grounds are open, please post it, we will hopefully get up there before summer's over -- must have shots of the new lantern room, it looks so NEAT !! Congrats to everyone -- I have been following the news on this the past few months --Didn't know this site existed until last week, so now I'll be able to keep up better with what's going on -- CHUCK, GLLI
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Postby Blacktphoto » Mon Jun 08, 2009 5:42 pm


I noticed that some of the land based lights were also in need of some help (These were shot in May):

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Manistee Pierhead

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Manistique East Breakwater

And I'm assuming that someone is painting the Munising Rear Range Light (unless perhaps it was acquired by the Army!):

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It's sad to see lights this easy to reach in bad shape.
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Postby Terry_Pepper » Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:09 pm


NPS Pictured Rocks owns the Munising Range Lights, and they are painting them this year.
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Postby CHUCKX53 » Mon Jun 08, 2009 10:25 pm


Those shots of Manistique and Manistee are just horrible -- I got some good shots of them when the paint was...well, "Fresher", so to say --- And Manistee is the wife's favorite light -- Don't think I'm going to show her this !!!

Do either of these 2 light have a local organization looking after them ? My guess is not.....

We were lucky enough to arrive at Menominee the day after the C.G. painted it 2 or 3 years ago --and that's the last fresh paint job we've seen up there..............
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Postby NoahG » Tue Jun 09, 2009 11:23 am


The lights are looking like they did in the 70's/80's again.

Isn't Manistee up for transfer this year?


It really hurts to see the Great Lakes Lights in these conditions. It's frustrating and yet no surprise. Myself, I work in the theatrical and entertainment industry, and unsurprisingly, our non-for-profits and even otherwise long term stable groups are feeling the effects of this nations current situation. I'd hate to start a political debate, but I feel that the arts, cultural institutions and historical organizations are always the first to go when times get a bit tough. It's very short sighted, but I don't know what else we can do besides stick together and stretch every dollar we do get that much further. I know the lighthouse movement has its factions and its politics, but again, in times like these, we have to put that aside and work together.

/soapbox
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Postby CHUCKX53 » Wed Jun 10, 2009 12:45 pm


It would seem that the citizens of those communities, who mostly depend on tourism, would be up in arms about their shabby looking lights --- Letters to the Editor of their local rags, calling their city officals to register complants, Etc...............

Seeing how some of these places use their lighthouse images on their city seals, and promote them as part of their "City Identity" for their tourists, it might behoove them to put some pressure on the C.G. to come paint these lights every 3-5 years...........

The Coast Gaurd is just likely stalling until they can dump the lights, and then it will be someone else's problem anyway...........

I understand what Terry is saying about the offshore lights being costly and time-consuming to paint, but the one with easy access shouldn't be that big of a problem --The locals in Menominee told me the process took only a few days -- And these lights are - or should be - National Historic Landmarks and should be taken care of accordingly................
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Postby Terry_Pepper » Wed Jun 10, 2009 4:36 pm


I will play Devil's Advocate, and show a little of what I perceive may be the other side of this issue.

The Coast Guard was folded into the Department of Homeland Security as a result of the terrorist actions of 911. With this reassignment, their mandate was significantly changed to focus in the area of Homeland Security, with aids to navigation forced way down their list of priorities. As a direct result of this mandated realignment, the Coast Guard has no alternative but to expend its allocated funding in accordance within their revised priorities. Throw in the increased adoption of RADAR, GPS, AIS, and computerized navigation systems, and the decrease in the importance of aids to navigation which results, and it should come as no real surprise that painting lighthouses is not a priority to the new Homeland Security Coast Guard. While not pretty, the structures themselves are still perfectly adequate to support the solar panels, batteries and optics which have been attached to them since automation. They will stand a long time without paint.

It is sad to say, but it just may be that from their mission/cost perspective, the existing structures may only be in place today because it would be far more expensive for the Coast Guard to tear them down and erect virtually maintenance free prefabricated galvanized skeleton towers in their stead.

The Coast Guard, has been up front and forthcoming about this situation for a long time. Even before 911, they indicated their need to get out of the lighthouse business, and began pushing to excess lighthouses at an elevated pace. It was this impending increase in the number of lighthouses to be excessed, and the fear that many of them would be sold out from under local groups who were already working on them under Coast Guard leases, that brought a number of lighthouse groups and politicians together in the late 1990's to cause the passage of the landmark Act which we now know as NHLPA 2000.

Yes it stinks that these venerable structures are being allowed to deteriorate. It just may be that transfer to local non profits and government entities is going to be their only salvation.

Let's hope that those in the local communities will have enough money to take them over when the opportunity arises. In Michigan's case where Chuck took the photos, the current and long-term dismal economic environment may hamper things considerably.
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Postby CHUCKX53 » Wed Jun 10, 2009 6:12 pm


What can I say ? -- When your'e right, your'e right..........................

Looking at this from that point of view, I can now understand why this will never again be a priority for our poor Great Lakes lights............

I guess we should be thankful for the lights we have that are, for now, being taken care of -- Macinac, Cheyboygan, Round Island, McGulpin, and many, many, many others all around the lakes that are manned by the hundereds (thousands?) of volunteers who have the vision of "Keeping The Light" for people like us -- and for the future................

I am so glad you are living your dream, Terry -- Live it for us as well...........
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Postby CHUCKX53 » Thu Jun 11, 2009 1:51 pm


It looks like Canada is having trouble painting It's lights, too.................

Check out Barry's post in the Canadian Forum about Peggy's Cove........
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