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Survey equipment on the dock

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Facts & Maps

Fact Sheet

SOUTH FOX ISLAND LIGHT STATION
45° 22’ 41“ N, 85° 50’ 18“ W
(former light on steel tower)

Historic Tower With Lightkeeper's Quarters
-   Year light first lit: 1867
-   Year deactivated: 1934
-   Construction: Schoolhouse type, square tower, cream brick
    painted white with red trim
-   Light height: 39 ft above base, 68 ft above lake level

Steel Tower
-   Year erected: 1934 (previously on Sapelo Island, GA, 1905 - 1933)
-   Year abandoned: 1958 (replaced with automatic light system)
-   Year deactivated: 1969
-   Construction: Steel skeletal, Sanibel class  
-   Tower height: 60 ft above base

Assistant Keepers' Quarters
-   Year constructed: 1910
-   Construction: 2 stories, 3 dwelling units; red brick

Other Buildings  
-   Boat house (1897)
-   Oil house (1895)
-   Fog signal building (1895)
-   Carpenter’s shop, a.k.a. painter's shop (former summer kitchen)
-   Well house (1898)

 

 

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Maps

Please note that the maps and plans below are not intended for navigational or constructional use.

There are no scales given, because the actual size of these maps depends on the size of your monitor and / or print paper.
Please refer to the scale rulers to get a clue of distances.

Elevations, where given, are in feet above the average level of Lake Michigan, as recorded 1918 to 2010 (578.8 FASL).
They are not above the nautical chart datum (Low Water Datum) of 577.5 FASL.
Elevations that include inches usually have an accuracy in the range of + / - 1 inch.

 

Map of the Grand Traverse Area

(South Fox Island is in the upper left part.)

Map Grand Traverse Area

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Plan of the Light Station

Plan of the Light Station, edition 2013
This is the 3rd, revised edition, issued in May 2013, based on a thorough survey in 2009 and 2010,
with many improvements, e.g. much more accurate contour lines and elevations (partly down to one inch), sites of
most former storage sheds of which there are only a few rotting beams left, and updated edges of wooded areas.

For a printable and zoomable .pdf file (1.7 MB) please click here.

If you need a high resolution version in .jpg format (2.0 MB), please click here.
Just scroll around. Yes, Old Glory does have 50 stars and 13 stripes. Go and look.


To see the Proposed Site Plan from the
Historic Structures Report (HSR)
designed by Ken Czapski,
please click here.
Please note that it's a proposal for the future and does not reflect current reality.
 

By the way, Google Maps (where you may have to switch to Satellite view in the upper right corner
of the map display) as well as Google Earth now have a new on-line representation of South Fox Island,
with fairly decent resolution, based on a satellite photo shot on May 13, 2012. You can even see the
tracks in front of the Boat House and the little vent on top of the Oil House. Not bad!

The picture is not only much more detailed; Google also corrected a mistake that I had pointed out
already six years ago: All the old official light station plans and also Google had always showed the Boat
House and the walkway from there to the dock in accurate west-east orientation, which I deemed wrong
(see the plan above). And wrong it was. The new Google representation corrected the orientation.

We are amateurs on a tight budget, they are professionals with almost unlimited financial and technical
resources, but we did a better job. Now how's that?

Incidentally, if you compare that shot with our plans, please keep in mind that the satellite photo was
not shot directly from above (clearly visible when you look at the 1934 Skeleton Tower on Google), so there are
some distortions due to varying elevation. An elevation of 10 ft corresponds to a shift to the west by 6' 7". And
many greenish spots in the dunes are just shrubbery, while our plans only show plants that are at least 6 - 8 ft tall.

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Plan of the entire Light Station Property

including the dune area and the boundary line at the northern end of the State land.

For a printable .pdf file (820 KB) please click here.

This plan clearly shows the earth bars in the two depression areas of the dunes. Quite obvioulsy
they are of agricultural origin. Does anyone know details? Please let us know.

By the way, in many documents, the workshop is called "carpenter's shop", in a few it is a
"paint shop". According to the interior, as abandoned in 1959 and assessed in 2006 / 2007, it
clearly was mainly a paint shop, most likely also used for some carpentry work and mechanical
repairs. To avoid confusion, the FILA plans call it a workshop, so nothing can go wrong.

Is there anybody who has old photos of the interior of the workshop, pictures that show how it
was used? Please contact us!

Other interesting questions can be found in our Mystery section. Please click here
to have a look at it.

All maps designed by Hans Joerg Rothenberger

  

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Latest update June 4, 2013