|Fourteen Foot Shoal Lighthouse||Seeing The Light|
In 1925, a construction crew was working in the Straits at Martin Reef, and plans had already been drawn up for that same crew to transfer their base camp to Cheboygan at the completion of the work at Martin Reef to begin construction of a virtually identical structure at Poe Reef. With the availability of such an experienced crew in the area, the time was right to provide a more permanent solution at Fourteen Foot Shoal, and plans were drawn up for a new station on which construction would begin as soon as the work at Poe Reef was completed. It was also determined that with the improved lighting that would result from this new station, the seventy-five year old Cheboygan Light would no longer be needed and could be discontinued with the exhibition of the new light.
As a result of recent advances in reliable radio control technology, it was also determined that the new station could have its light and fog signal remotely controlled by the keepers living at the planned Poe Reef Light Station, thereby significantly lowering the cost of operating the new light.
As a temporary measure to better mark the shoal, the can buoy marking Fourteen Foot Shoal was replaced by an acetylene gas buoy showing a flashing white seventy candlepower light every 3 seconds on April 15, 1925.
With completion of the work at Poe Reef in 1929, the work crew turned their attention to work at Fourteen Foot Shoal. While the new light was of a totally different design, and considerably smaller than the twin lights built at Martin and Poe Reefs, the construction of the crib proceeded in much the same manner, with the construction of a wooden crib at the shore station on the Cheboygan Pier. After an area on the shoal was leveled, the crib was eased down wooden ways into the water, and towed to the shoal by the Lighthouse Tender Aspen. Once over the leveled area, the crib was sunk to the bottom by filling its empty pockets with rocks and gravel.
This timber foundation then served as a core, upon and around which wooden forms were constructed and filled with concrete loaded from the Lighthouse Service scow. As was the case with both the Martin and Poe stations, the upper edge of the crib was formed into a graceful flare, designed to deflect waves away from the pier, in order to help protect the structures which would be erected on the deck. With the completion of the concrete work, the pier stood fifty feet square, and its deck level fifteen feet above the water.
The steel framework for the single story equipment building was erected at the center of the deck. Standing thirty-four feet by twenty-eight feet in plan, on completion, the entire exterior of the building was sheathed with 1/4-quarter inch steel plates, each riveted to the steel framework beneath. Centered on the roof ridge, a cylindrical steel tower was integrated into the roof, standing six feet in diameter and twenty-four feet above the ridge line. The tower was capped with an octagonal cast iron lantern and outfitted with a flashing white Fourth Order Fresnel lens.
As a result of its relative proximity to the shore, a submarine cable was laid to the station, with power supplied by the Cheboygan municipal power plant. As a result, the equipment building was outfitted with electric motors to drive the compressors feeding the station's duplicate diaphone fog signals sounding a characteristic one second blast followed by 14 seconds of silence. The Fresnel lens was also illuminated with an 11,000 candlepower incandescent electric light bulb with a flashing mechanism which provided a repeated three-second characteristic consisting of a single flash of 1-second duration followed by a two-second eclipse. The station's 50-foot focal plane provided the light with a range of visibility of 14 miles in clear weather. To provide a light during the winter months, a 130 candlepower acetylene powered 200 mm lens was also installed in the lantern, fed by an acetylene tank located within the main building.
The new Fourteen Foot Shoal Light was
exhibited for the first time at the opening of navigation in 1930, and
as planned, the old Cheboygan Light Station was discontinued at the same
time, and with the completion of the work, the construction crew moved
their base camp from the Cheboygan pier, and steamed up Lake Huron to
begin work on the new Detour