Algoma's lighthouse is getting a $100,000-plus facelift by firms contracted through the U.S. Coast Guard. Workers were shoveling old concrete from the structure when this photo was taken Wednesday. / Kevin Naze/For the Kewaunee County Star-News
Algoma’s iconic lighthouse is getting a long-awaited facelift.
Work began in the past week and should be completed in two to three weeks, according to a spokesman from the U.S. Coast Guard Station Two Rivers.
Last fall, this column mentioned what the Coast Guard said would be a $100,000 lighthouse renovation beginning in the spring of 2014. This week, the spokesman said the numbers he saw in the bids would put it closer to $200,000.
In addition to removing multiple layers of paint and repainting, the huge project involves interior and exterior concrete work, foundation replacement, glass window replacement and catwalk board replacement and painting.
Everything must be tarped off to contain lead-based paint chips and possible asbestos. The lighthouse will be taken down to bare metal, primed and painted back to the former “cherry red” look, a welcome sight for residents and visitors who’ve lived with a washed-out pink color for more than two years.
The Coast Guard didn’t have enough money in the budget to do it right in 2011, so the paint job — done over multiple layers of paint — didn’t take, quickly fading and chipping.
According to Wikipedia.org, the lighthouse in its current size has been in place since 1932. Prior to the rebuild 82 years ago that raised the height to 42 feet, the pierhead light had stood 26 feet high since 1908. It was first established in 1893 as a set of range lights.
The federal government, which recently announced the Algoma Pierhead Light was one of 10 deemed “excess property” and would be offered for sale, lists the light at 48 feet.
“The light consists of a 48-foot red steel plate cylindrical tower situated on a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers breakwater,” the official notice states. “Access to the light is by way of an iron catwalk.”
For access to and utilization of the light station, whoever is selected in the process must obtain the required authorization from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers district office.
The city of Algoma is among those interested in the lighthouse’s future. Range of possible uses includes education, park, recreation, cultural or historic preservation purposes. Commercial activities are prohibited unless approved by the Secretary of the Interior.
The Algoma lighthouse is pending listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The new owner must maintain it according to the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
The notice states that the Aid To Navigation (ATON) will remain personal property of the U.S. Coast Guard. The ATON on the lighthouse consists of a light signal flashing a red light every six seconds and a fog signal horn sounding one blast every 10 seconds operated by keying microphone five times on VHF-FM Ch. 83A.
Eligible entities that submit a letter of interest will be sent an application by the National Park Service and given an opportunity to inspect the light station.
As part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act program, the lighthouses are being offered at no cost to eligible state or local governments, nonprofit corporations, historic preservation groups, or community development organizations.
In recent years, no groups stepped forward to acquire the lighthouse in Manitowoc, and a New York man paid $30,000 for it.
To find out more information on these properties and how to submit a letter of interest, visit www.cr.nps.gov/maritime/nhlpa/noas2014.htm.
Meanwhile, a more complete look at the pierhead light history is available at terrypepper.com/lights/michigan/algoma/algoma.htm.
The first large chinook salmon of the season were caught this week, and it’s likely that by now some rainbow trout, or steelhead, were hooked offshore as well.
Early reports are that the fish were caught in the top 70 feet of 70 to 170 feet of water.
Closer to shore, alewives are thick in the rivers, harbors and nearshore areas. There’s been some die-off, but as of midweek most appeared to be swimming strong and could eventually attract trout and salmon closer to the beaches during low-light hours.
Kevin Naze is a freelance outdoor writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.