The Lake Superior coastline between Whitefish Point and Grand Island stands as one of the most beautiful stretches of shoreline in all of the Midwest. With pleasure boaters, tour boats and kayakers making their leisurely way along the coast to soak up the natural beauty. It is difficult to imagine that during the 1800’s this stretch of seemingly bucolic coastline was known to mariners as “The Shipwreck Coast,” with the hulks of innumerable vessels pushed onto the shore by violent storms out of the north, or lost in the pea soup fogs which frequently enveloped the area.
Since the early 1850’s, the Lighthouse Board had been working on establishing a series of Lights to guide mariners along this treacherous stretch, with Lights established at Whitefish Point in 1848, Grand Island in 1867, Big Sable Point in 1874, and Grand Marais in 1895. As further witness to the dangers represented by this stretch of coastline, Congress approved the establishment of four life saving stations between Vermilion and Deer Park on June 20, 1874, one of which was designated as Station Ten, and built at an unnamed point approximately fifteen miles west of Whitefish Point. Although David Grummond was appointed as the first keeper at life saving station 10, it would be Christopher Crisp who served as keeper from 1878 until 1890 who would have the most lasting impact on the area, as Crisp became so well known that the point on which the station was established would become forever known as “Crisp’s Point.”
Crisp Point Light will forever be remembered as a gem at the end of one of the most grueling drives we have ever undertaken. The first fifteen miles of the drive are on numbered County roads which are little more than groomed sand trails. The last five miles are on what appears to be nothing more than a logging trail.
As you progress, the trail gets progressively narrower and increasingly twisty, as the trail has to circumvent every tree that has grown in the path. We felt really fortunate that we never encountered a vehicle coming in the opposite direction, because we never remembered any place where there was sufficient room to pass! The road ended at the beach, with a half mile walk put us at the light.
This one of the most magnificently desolate locations we have visited, and other than Sue’s frequently glancing the edge of the woods for any sign of bears, remains in our minds as one of our top ten favorite lights.