Tawas Point State Park
Date of visit: June 30, 2011
This was one of the attractions I couldn't wait to see while staying at the Tawas Point State Park Campground. I've always been attracted to and fascinated by Victorian style almost anything, so I wasn't about to miss the "sole representative of a true Victorian-era style station on the Great Lakes."
This beacon was put in operation in 1876 and is still a functioning lighthouse that is lit every night to help mariners avoid the point.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live and work at a lighthouse? Well, here at Tawas Point, you can actually BE the lightkeeper! As part of their "Guest Keepers Program" you can stay inside the restored lightkeeper's quarters, work, and pay for the privilege!
That's what Jim and his wife, Royetta, have been doing for the past week. Here he shows me the dining area.
They had read an article about the program in their local Lambertville paper and heard it would be a great experience and that they would learn a lot. "Being retired teachers, we know how to learn." He added, "And where else can you stay at an 130 year old lighthouse?" Point well taken, Jim…
To get to the top, you go up 85 steps that are broken up by 3 landings.
When it ran on oil, the keeper would have to come up every 3 hours to refill. Since it was converted to electric in 1935, everything is much simpler now – except for the climbing the steps part…
Up at the top, Royetta cautions climbers to "watch your head coming up those last few steps" as it's a pretty tight fit. But the climb and the caution is worth it for the view once you get here…
Here we see the Fresnel lens – I think it's amazing that this technology was developed in the 1820's and is still basically state of the art today!
In talking more with Royetta, she said the best part of her experience here was the quiet at night. "I never expected such utter quiet – I don't think I've ever heard absolutely nothing before!"
She said they're on duty from 12-6 so there's lots of free time and they didn't find the work to be overly burdensome and they enjoyed meeting people and conducting the tours.
The top of the tower stands 70 feet in the air and from here you can see about 16 miles onto Lake Huron.
"As a lighthouse keeper, volunteers would primarily be responsible for greeting guests, leading visitor tours, providing guests with historical information about the museum and the area, working in the museum's gift shop and performing light maintenance of the buildings and grounds. Volunteers will also be required to learn basic historical information about the lighthouse."
The Park Supervisor, Chuck Allen, told me they have had single women be guest keepers before. Except for the fact that I prefer sleeping in my own bed than anywhere else, I bet this would be a great experience!
A short video I took at the top of the lighthouse panning around at the view of Lake Huron and Tawas Bay (You Tube)
I'd love to hear your own experiences about places I've been - and what you think are "must-sees" - and I really value any suggestions and feedback from readers, so please let me have your 2 cents in Comments below: