|Duluth North Pierhead Light
|Seeing The Light
The Association's action evidently provided the necessary impetus for the Lighthouse Board to recommend an appropriation of $4,000 for the construction of a permanent government aid to navigation at the outer end of the pier in its 1908 annual report. With accompanying pressure from the Lake Carrier's Association, Congress appropriated the requested funds on March 4, 1909. In uncharacteristic urgency, under the direction of Eleventh District Engineer Major Charles Keller, the plans for the PÍche Island lighthouse were quickly modified for use on the Duluth pier, contracts were awarded, and materials delivered at the Detroit depot by fall of that same year. Work on the pier also started that fall, and after a break in the action as winter's icy grip took over the pier, continued at the opening of navigation in 1910.
Over the following months, a beautiful iron tower took shape on the concrete pierhead. Standing 36 feet tall from base to ventilator ball, the tower measured ten and a half feet in diameter at the base, gracefully tapering to a diameter of 8 feet at the gallery, which was supported by a series of gracefully curving cast-iron corbels. Centered on the gallery, an octagonal cast-iron lantern with vertical astragals contained a Fifth Order Fresnel lens manufactured by Henry-Lepaute of Paris in 1881. The lens was to be illuminated by a 210-candlepower incandescent electric lamp, with power supplied by the Duluth Electric Utility. Equipped with an electromechanical flashing mechanism, the light would display an isophase characteristic repeating 4-second cycle consisting of 2-seconds of light followed by two-seconds of darkness. The tower's location atop the concrete pier provide the lens with a focal plane of 46 feet, and a range of visibility of 11 miles under clear conditions.
With work complete, the new light was
exhibited for the first time on the night of April 7, 1910, and the
light has been faithfully serving maritime interests entering and
departing Duluth Harbor since that date.
We were particularly moved by an inconspicuous bronze plaque mounted to the wall of the North breakwater. This simple plaque could have easily been overlooked, but fortunately caught our eye as we sat on the wall to rest. Please click on the image to the right to view a larger image, and read about Edgar Culbertson's selfless heroism.
While on the North
pier, we visited the Canal Park Maritime Museum, which is run by the
Army Corps of Engineers, and located tight against the lift bridge. We
found this to be a fascinating museum, with various displays relating to
Great Lakes shipping history, and highly recommend including a visit
during any visit to Duluth. Museum hours vary
by season. Summer hours generally are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily; Spring
and Fall hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, and Winter hours are 10
a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday. For more information, call the
museum at (218) 727-2497