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Originally consisting of an informal gathering of retired lighthouse keepers, their families and friends, the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association (GLLKA) was officially incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-
With a mission statement calling for "the preservation of lighthouses, the stories of those who kept them, and developing a new generation of preservationists", the Association's second President Dick Moehl realized the group needed to find a lighthouse to restore in order to fully bring its mission to reality.
Finding the abandoned 1873 St. Helena Island light station to be in deplorable condition, the group set its sights on adopting and restoring the abandoned relic. The United States Coast Guard had removed the lantern and most of the dwelling roof was missing. Vandals had broken into the structure and had torn out the windows, doors, stairs, interior trim and anything else which could be removed.
Over the ensuing years, the entire lighthouse complex has been lovingly restored, including the installation of a new wood shingle roof, rebuilding of the boat house and assistant keepers dwelling, installation of new lantern and chimney, and the replacement of thousands of bricks in the tower. Perhaps most amazingly, as a result of shallow waters which surround the island, all of the volunteers and materials have to be transferred to the island in small inflatable boat. Over the years, 21 Boy Scouts have successfully undertaken Eagle Scout Service Projects and Girl Scouts have earned 3 Gold and 5 Silver awards for their work on the island.
Talk about bringing our mission statement to life!
In 2004, we received the deed to the Cheboygan River Front Range Light, and fundraising for the restoration of that lighthouse is underway. We also work to support other lighthouse groups throughout the Great Lakes and across the nation. Our members serve on the Boards of both the American Lighthouse Coordinating Committee and the Michigan Lighthouse Alliance and numerous other lighthouse preservation groups. We have partnered with the Hiawatha National Forest in their work at the Round Island lighthouse, with St. James Township with their restoration of the Beaver Island Harbor lighthouse, with Isle Royale National Park on the formulation of their Cultural Resources Plan, and with Emmet County in the restoration and interpretation of the McGulpin Point lighthouse which the county purchased in 2008. GLLKA even lent a hand in the restoration of the Sandy Neck Lighthouse in Massachusetts by allowing that group to use patterns made for the restoration of the St. Helena lantern in casting new lantern components for the east coast lighthouse.
GLLKA members are spread throughout the USA, Canada and Europe, and keep track of the Association's accomplishments through our quarterly 42 to 56 page newsmagazine The Beacon, which not only covers our accomplishments, but also includes news articles on lighthouses throughout the Great Lakes and rich articles on Great Lakes lighthouse history by noted Great Lakes lighthouse historians. We have published a series of books on Great Lakes lighthouses and Coast Guard history as a key component in fundraising for our restoration efforts, and we provide historical narration on numerous lighthouse cruises throughout the Straits of Mackinac every summer, in partnership with Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry. We also arrange and host lighthouse excursions throughout the Great Lakes, all of which provide the opportunity to experience many lighthouses which are normally extremely difficult to see.
To download a complete chronology of our accomplishments of the pat 30 years, please click the “Chronology” menu button at the upper left of this page.
|Who We Are|
|Benefits of Membership|
|St. Helena Island Lighthouse|
|Chebogygan Front Range Light|
|Our Work At St. Helena|
|St. Helena Lighthouse History|
|St. Helena Scrapbook|
|St. Helena Volunteer Program|
|Ann Arbor Boy Scout Troop 4 at St. Helena|
|Our Work in Cheboygan|
|Cheboygan Range Light History|
|Cheboygan Range Light Scrapbook|
|Cheboygan Range Volunteer Program|
|Maritime Education Workshop|
|Hugh A. Murray Research Library|
|The BEACON Magazine|
|Educational Resource Guide|
|Oral History Program|
|Frequently Asked Questions|
|At St. Helena Island|
|At the Cheboygan Range|
|At Other Lighthouses|
|On Lake Superior|
|On Lake Michigan|
|On Lake Huron|
|On Lake Erie|
|On Lake Ontario|