Lightkeeper moored

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Nature Around The Light

Photos of former years (see below; the latest photos are on top) covered many, mainly technical, aspects of the South Fox Island Light Station and, of course, what FILA has done there. For once, let's have a look at what Mother Nature has on offer.

West beach

Gull rock


2009, yet another successful year...

... presented by a comparison between old and new photos around the boat house.  

 Boat house ramp 2006
The ramp from the water to the boat house,
completely covered with up to four feet of
rocks. Foto of August 2006.

Fall 2009: The entire ramp and the concrete
walkways from the dock to the boat house
have been cleared.

Walkway south of boathouse covered with rocks 
Several feet of rock along the southern wall
of the boat house, photo of August 2008.

Walkway south of boathouse after clearing
Same place, other direction, after removing
tons of rocks.

Walkway southeast of boathouse before clearing
Summer 2009, before removing the rocks
southeast of the boat house.  

  The excavation revealed some structures
that had been hidden, like this interesting extension
of the walkway.

Walkway west of boathouse 2008
Summer 2008: Tons of rocks have already
been removed west of the boat house, but
the south side is still buried under up to
four feet.

 Walkway after removal of rocks
Fall 2009: What a difference!

Boathouse near collapse
The southeastern corner of the boat house
in August 2006, with a collapsed wall
segment, sagging roof, missing shingles
and rotting roof boards.

Northwestern corner of the boat house summer 2009
Summer 2009 (before the big dig on the
ramp): Boat house trued and stabilized
with temporary shear walls; entire roof
restored. Far from being done, but saved
from total decay.

 The extensive roof repairs of 2009, including a totally unexpected highlight, can be viewed in a separate photo report by George "Carp" Carpenter, former Secretary of FILA, by
clicking here.


Impressions of the 2008 Season

South Fox Light Station from east
The South Fox Light Station seen from the east anchorage.

Shearwall inside boathouse
One of the temporary shear walls inside the boat house before reshingling.

Boathouse with internal shearwall
The boat house with the new roof.  

The 1867 lighthouse from ESE
The 1867 lighthouse seen from the Nickerson Fire Circle behind the boat house.

Decaying lean-to annex
The doomed lean-to annex on the north side of the 1867 lighthouse.

Spiral staircase inside 1867 lighthouse
Cast iron stairs inside the 1867 tower.

Lilies in front of the assistant keepers' quarters.

One of the kitchens being used as a make-shift base camp.

This is the entire furniture of the Light Station.
No kidding!

Workshop from WSW
The workshop from SW, with the assistant keepers' quarters in the background.

Painted eastern wall of workshop
The freshly painted NE wall of the workshop. The roof still needs a lot of tlc.

New shingles stored inside the workshop.

 The old lighthouse in the evening.

Evening sun on the western beach.

The dunes just north of the Light Station.

Equipment from the fog signal house on the beach south of the boat house.

 The Lightkeeper at anchor, with some surveying equipment on the dock in the foreground.


Work done on the island
by FILA members and volunteers 2006 - 2007



Boat house original state
Boat house heavily lopsided, interior fillled with tons of rocks.

Boat house secured
Structure trued and secured, all rocks removed. External struts were removed later.

Boat house south side original state
Boat house south wall partly collapsed (later yet another section fell down), many roof boards rotted through.

Boat house south wall repaired
Collapsed wall parts reinstalled, rotting roof boards replaced, walkway cleared of lots of rocks.

Old lighthouse August 2006
The old lighthouse: heavy overgrowth, roofs partly leaking and endangered by tree branches, metal structures totally rusty, lantern room, staircase and chimneys open to precipitation.

Old lighthouse fall 2007
Shrub removed, tree branches cut, walkways cleared, lantern room boarded up; metal structures chipped and painted, chimneys capped, leaking roof sections waterproofed.

Lantern room exterior prior to chipping
Exterior of the cast-iron lantern room,
all rusty, with only a few traces of the
original paint.

Exterior of lantern room after painting
Lantern room after chipping, sanding,
priming and painting. Nine broken
windows were boarded up.

Oil house and walksways Aug. 2006
 The oil house with rusty roof and door and almost bare brick walls. Most walkways buried under thick humus.

Oil house fall 2007
Oil house roof and door chipped, primed and painted, brick walls painted, walkways freed of brush and humus.

Back yard heavily overgrown
Back yard of the Assistant Keepers'
Quarters before clearing (August 2006).

Back yard after clearing
 Same back yard after cutting bushes
and clearing walkway (Sept. 2007).

Eves filled with humus and vegetation
Eaves filled with humus and vegetation.

Eves cleared
 Eaves cleared.

Paint shop overgrown
In summer 2006, the paint shop (a.k.a. carpenter's shop) was almost completely overgrown.

Paint shop freed and primed
The paint shop after removal of the surrounding shrubs, a priming coat of paint and some minor repairs.

Paint shop front door threshold eaten away by carpenter ants
Front door threshold of paint shop completely gnawed away by carpenter ants.

Paint shop threshold repaired
 Threshold repaired.

Walkway to the skeletal tower before clearing
Walkway to the skeletal tower covered
by thick overgrowth.

Walkway cleared
Walkway cleared.

Jungle around the foundation of the skeletal tower
A dense jungle around the foundation of the skeletal tower in August 2006.

Skeletal tower foundation cleared
Foundation cleared and access to the skeletal tower freed.

Access to fog signal building overgrown
The entrance to the fog signal building
was almost inaccessible in August 2006.

Access to fog signal building freed
The very same place a year later.

Five of the photos above were taken from Jan Nickerson's great slide presentation
Team Nickerson returns to South Fox Island.
Many thanks Jan!

Areal photos of the Light Station
Spring 2007

The photos below were shot by FILA board member Cathy Allchin in early spring 2007.
They show the progress made by our crews who worked on the light station last year.

Approaching from SSE
 Approaching the southern tip of South
Fox from south-southeast.

Fog signal house and 1934 tower
 The fog signal building and the 1934
skeleton tower from southwest.

Station from south
 Fog signal building, skeleton tower and
old schoolhouse type lighthouse.

Core buildings from south
 Assistant keepers' quarters, old lighthouse
and oil house from south.

Core buildings from NE
 The same buildings from northeast.

Boathouse from ENE
 Boat house and dock from east-northeast.

The Light Station in August 2006

During a field day on August 22, 2006 (see here), the FILA Webmaster shot
hundreds photos of the present state of the light station.


Approaching anchorage
Approaching the anchorage from east-southeast. 

Dinghy landing
Phil von Voigtlander guiding the dinghy
through the rocks to the eastern beach.

Remainders of the dock
Remainders of the solid concrete dock
in front of the boat house.

Boat house from east
The boat house with the partly collapsed
southeastern corner.

Inside the boat house
Inside the boat house. The slip rails
are partly buried under tons of gravel.

Old lighthouse from south
The old lighthouse and the little oil house
from south. The assistant keepers'
dwelling (left) is barely visible between
the trees.

Overgrowth around keepers' quarters
Heavy overgrowth at the northeastern
corner of the assistant keepers' dwelling.

Overgrown roof
Overgrown roof of assistant keepers'
quarters, northern side. The gutter
is completely filled with humus.

Woods getting close
Southwestern corner of the assistant
keepers' building besieged by trees
and shrubs.

Carpenter's shop
The carpenter's shop almost invisible
under the green.

 Fog signal building
The fog signal building from east. The
door is hidden in the thicket on the right.

 Foundation of iron tower
The foundation of the skeletal iron tower
is completely overgrown.

Iron tower and fog signal building
The skeletal tower and the fog signal
building seen from the southern beach.

Shed behind old lighthouse
The most endangered part is the shed
at the northern wall of the old lighthouse.
The chimney cap (in place in 1999, see
below) is lying on the collapsing roof.

Collapsing shed roof
The badly damaged roof and rear wall
of the shed. The floor is rotting, a
serious risk especially in view of the
lacking door and free access.

 Kitchen in old lighthouse
The kitchen / dining room in the old
lighthouse. Flaking paint galore but
otherwise in fairly good shape.

Master bedroom in old lighthouse
The master bedroom in the old lighthouse.
Some paint remover, a good lick of
fresh paint, and it's as good as new.

 Stairs below the lantern room
The iron stairs and the hatch to the
lantern room. Pretty rusty but stable.

 View from the lantern room
View from the lantern room down to
the boat house and dock.

 Living room in newer building
One of the living rooms in the assistant
keepers' quarters in good condition.

Assistant keeper's kitchen
The kitchen in one of the three units
in the assistant keepers' building.

 Stairs in newer building
Staircase in assistant keepers' building,
beautifully crafted and still sound.

Same stairs, different view
Same stairs, different view. Some of
the decorative post knobs got removed.

 Basement of the newer building
Basement of the newer building. The
electrical installation may not be up to
code, but apart from that dust it and use it.

Inside the carpenter's shop
Inside the carpenters shop: lots of leaves
and some flaking paint but still fairly sound.

 Little tree on chimney
A little tree growing out of one of the

Back yard after clearing
Back yard of the assistant keepers'
quarters after clearing.

Aerial photos shot by Cathy Allchin
Fall 2003

Leland Harbor
Leland Harbor, Leelanau County, one of the
possible "base camps" for our operations.

Approach from South
Approaching South Fox Island from the south.

Southern tip
The southern tip of the island with the light station.

Old lighthouse & boathouse
View from the east: the old lighthouse, the boathouse and the remainders of the breakwater.

Light station from NE
The entire light station including the newer skeletal tower (1934) seen from north-east.

We would like to thank Cathy Allchin for these photos.

Photos shot by Zane Bourisseau
and his relatives in September 1999.

Zane Bourisseau

Zane, son of Frank Bourisseau (S.Fox lighthouse keeper 1928 - 1937)
and grandson of Louis Bourisseau (1st assistant keeper 1885 - 1891,
keeper 1891 - 1915), spent many summers of his youth on South Fox Island.
After his visit in 1999, he tried to go there again in 2003, but the conditions
of the lake didn't allow safe landing.

On that occasion, the photo above was shot by Cathy Allchin, head of the
South Fox Island Education Association, direct predecessor of our
Fox Island Lighthouse Association.

South Fox Lighthouse 1
The old lighthouse, as seen from the footpath
close to the beach.

Zane & nephew
Zane (right) with nephew in front
of the old lighthouse.

Lantern room
Close-up showing the lantern room
with broken window panes.

Banister inside the keeper's quarters.

New tower
The lantern room of the "new" tower
seen from the old lighthouse.

Thank you very much Zane for these photos!

Photos shot by John Bourisseau
September 1999 during the visit covered above.

John, a nephew of Zane Bourisseau, kindly sent us these photos in August 2005.
Some of them are featured on Terry Pepper's page on South Fox Island too.

Thank you very much, John!

Light station from the east
Approaching the light station from the east,
you see the newer skeletal tower, the boat
house and the old lighthouse.

John & Jim
Zane and Jim sitting on the biggest remainder
of the dock in front of the boat house.

The destroyed dock
The sad relics of the dock. The fact the dock
got blasted is one of the big problems our
group is facing.

Footpath to the lighthouse
View from the footpath.

Lighthouse from northeast
The old lighthouse from northeast.

Front door of the lighthouse
The front door of the old lighthouse.



If you have photos, drawings, paintings, construction plans or whatever collecting dust somewhere in your attic, please share them with us, if possible together with some additional information such as date, name of the photographer, details shown in the pictures, possible copyright issues etc..

You can send digitized material to the or snail-mail
paper copies to:

Sandra Serra Bradshaw
1360 S. Bay View Trail
Suttons Bay, MI 49682-9663

We will scan your documents and send them back to you asap.

Many thanks for your cooperation.





Latest update September 26, 2011