Lightship 103 "Huron" Seeing The Light

Port Huron, Michigan Home Back

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Historical Information

Lightship 103, "Huron" began her life in the Consolidated Shipbuilding Co in Morris Heights New York, with the laying of her keel in 1918. She was completed in 1920 at a cost of $147,428. 96 1/2 feet in length, 24 feet in the beam, drawing 9 1/2 feet, and weighing 312 tons,103 was powered by a single compound reciprocating steam engine fired by two coal-fired Scotch boilers, developing one hundred and seventy-five horsepower.

In order to ascertain her seaworthiness, she steamed under her own power to Maine, where on May 18 she and lightship LV99 were met by the tender HIBISCUS and towed to the entrance of the St Lawrence River. Both lightships then steamed under their own power to Ogdensburg, New York, where they were met by the tender Crocus, and escorted to Detroit.

Click to view enlarged imageThe Huron then continued on under her own power to the Twelfth District Headquarters in Milwaukee, where she arrived on June 9th. Sported a bright red Hull with the word "RELIEF" painted on her hull sides, indicative of the purpose for which she was originally commissioned. In addition to general relief service throughout Lakes Michigan and Superior, Huron spent the 1924, 1925, 1926 and 1929 seasons guarding Grays Reef, and the 1934 and 1935 seasons on North Manitou Shoal.

She was transferred to the Eleventh District in 1935 for one year, where she once again saw duty as a relief ship. In 1936, her hull was repainted black, and she was transferred to permanent duty guarding the Corsica Shoals, off the mouth of the St. Clair River.

Click to view enlarged imageWhile on Corsica Shoal, she was chained to a huge 6,000-pound mushroom anchor. She was equipped with Diloc anchor chain, a particularly strong and heavy chain of which each link weighed 14 pounds. She carried 450 feet of this chain onboard, of which only 180 feet were used to anchor on Corsica Shoal, due to the shallowness of the area. Typically, her eleven to twelve man crew remained on station at Corsica Shoal from early April until late December, and then took her to winter at the Coast Guard Station in Detroit at the foot of Mt. Elliot. In 1948, she was converted to diesel power at a cost of $168,000 with the installation of twin six-cylinder GM 6-71 engines at the DeFoe Shipbuilding Company of West Bay City, Michigan. With this conversion, she had a top speed of nine knots.

On August 20, 1970 she raised her anchor from Corsica Shoal for the last time. Replaced by a lighted buoy, she was the final remaining Great Lakes lightship, and with her departure a long and honorable tradition came to an end.

She was decommissioned at Detroit on August 25th of that year, and transferred to the City Of Port Huron on June 5 of 1971. Towed by tug to Port Huron, she was moved into a pre-built seawall which was sealed behind her, and filled-in with dirt, giving her a permanent berth on the shore of the St. Clair River in Pine River Park. 

A large door was cut into her port side in the area of the Crew's lounge, and the process of converting her into a museum was begun. Dedicated on October 4, 1974, today she serves as a proud monument to the men who served on her through her fifty long years of service.

Seeing this Light

Huron Lightship Museum at Pine Grove Park, Port Huron, Michigan, is located just south of the Blue Water Bridges on the St. Clair River, and is open to the public from April through mid December.

Contact information

The Port Huron Museum con be contacted at:
1115 Sixth St., Port Huron, MI 48060
Telephone (810) 982-0891, extension 19

Reference Sources

Port Huron Museum website
USCG Lightship Listing.
Huron Lightship Museum website
Personal visit to Port Huron, 05/05/2000
Photographs from the author's personal collection.

Terry Pepper. This page last updated 12/02/2007 .

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