|Manning Memorial Lighthouse||Seeing The Light|
The structure is of wooden
construction, with a stucco coating. Bearing detail resemblance to the
tower at Point Betsie, the white tower is capped with a green lantern
room and railing, and features a bright gold ball at the apex of the
lantern room roof.
The lighthouse sits at the northern end of quiet park sandwiched between the serenity of Glen Lake and the rolling waves breaking along the beach. About a mile north of the park, the southern edge of the Sleeping Bear dunes can be seen pawing the horizon from within the surrounding new growth forest.
We parked our truck in one of the parking places near the lighthouse, and after admiring the structure's stark simplicity, ambled through the park. We were immediately taken by the quiet serenity of the place, shattered only by the cries of happy children running along the sandy beach as they ran to avoid the incoming waves.
As we made our way to the park entrance to the south, we became aware of two large, weather-beaten concrete piers, one with the remains of rusty bolts encased in its upper surface. It was plain that they had been here for some time, and we wondered as to their original purpose.
It was only after we left the park, and spent some time nosing around town that the nature of these two silent concrete sentinels to the past became clear. For we discovered that it was in this location that the mighty Empire Lumber Company Mill stood. The concrete pier with the rusting bolts once serving as the foundation for the Mill's main band saw, the other as the foundation for the Mill's steam engine, and the now idyllic South Bar Lake functioning as the busy mill's main mill pond!
For while it is
difficult to conceive through today's eyes, Empire was once a major
lumbering center, and it's two long docks, long since rotted into
oblivion, were once filled with vessels being loaded with lumber from
the surrounding forest and the Manitous, bound for the growing cities on
the the Lakes.