The Return of the Pointe Aux Barques Life Saving Station

The United States Life-Saving Service (USLSS) was a United States government agency in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The program evolved from citizens altruistic attempts to help sailors and ship passengers who became shipwrecked throughout the waters of the United States. Established by the U.S. government in 1848, the USLSS was combined with the more commercially oriented Revenue Cutter Service in 1915, creating the United States Coast Guard. At time of the act creating the Coast Guard there were more than 250 Life Saving Stations in a network that including key locations on the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico coasts, as well as, of course, the Great Lakes.

On September 15, 1876, Pointe aux Barques (PAB) Station began operating as a first class station in the USLSS’s Ninth District. Situated right next to the Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse in Port Hope, Michigan from the start, the station was bought by the Parcells family in 1964 for $475 to prevent its destruction. The LSS was then relocated to the Huron City Museums complex at a cost of $1500.

The cost to move it back to its original location in 2017 was quite a bit more. The Huron County Road Commission, which runs the County Park system, oversaw the awesome accomplishment of moving the historic structure back the 1.25 miles, working with Talaski Building Movers. The edifice was restored to its place in Lighthouse County Park earlier this autumn.

A very important partner in this effort was the Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse Society, whose active membership will subsequently be responsible for the Life Saving Station’s maintenance and functionality as a historic learning opportunity.

In amazing condition for its long existence, the building is the only one of the four Great Lakes Life Saving Stations still in its original condition, and now, location.

To begin moving the structure, it was first lifted from its foundation, and showed no signs of stress at this ordeal. To allow passage along the M-25 roadway, DTE Energy was there to remove and restore the power lines and poles during the station’s procession down the road.

This all comes at a cost, of course. The money to fund the move comes from the camping fees collected by the Huron Count Parks program.

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