Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan, USA – Lake Superior
Sandstone reefs lie at depths of only six to thirty feet out almost a mile from Au Sable Point, originally called Point Aux Sables by the French. It was named for the nearby Grand Sable Dunes.
The hazards in this area led the Lighthouse Board to authorize, in 1872, a light station for AuSable Point. It cost $40,000 to build, and first shown its light in 1874. But Lake Superior would not be denied. Ten ships were to go down off AuSable Point from 1873 to 1929. This led seamen to name these shallows the “Graveyard Coast.” This part of Lake Superior has always been hazardous. It was not too far from here that the EDMUND FITZGERALD went down as recently as 1975.
The Au Sable Point Light, originally called the “Big Sable Light Station” but renamed in 1910, was automated in 1958. It has a Third Order Fresnel lens constructed by L. Sauter & Co. of Paris. In 1897, a hand-powered foghorn was replaced by a steam-powered fog signal. The tower is 16 feet in diameter at the base and the tower is 87 feet tall. The keeper’s residence was originally one-story, but a second story was added on in 1909.
Au Sable Point is located on what is now Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, west of Grand Marais. To visit this light, head for the Hurricane River Campground at the eastern end of the park and walk about a half-hour down the path to the lighthouse. Along the way, you will pass the skeletal remains of several wooden ships on the beach.