The Michigan lakeside city of Ludington is becoming like a latter day CCC encampment of car ferries, Coast Guard vessels, historic sites and a bustling maritime community. The region is already well known to lighthouse visitors, many whom have visited Big and Little Sable Lighthouses. More recently, Ludington received transfer of the Ludington Breakwater Beacon at the Lake Michigan entrance to Ludington Harbor, a/k/a Pere Marquette Lake, named after the pioneer priest.
In July, of this year, the city took ownership of the vintage U.S. Coast Guard Station at Ludington, which will become the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum. It is scheduled to open in 2012. The centerpiece spotlights the car ferry Pere Marquette No. 22. “As visitors enter the museum, they will be met by the pilothouse of P.M. 22”, stated Mason County Historical Society Executive Director Ron Wood. The society will operate the museum for the city. Wood added that “the USCG aspect will be ‘A Museum within a museum’.” The station sits on a site in the entrance channel where a U.S. Life-Saving Service station sat. The USLSS station still stands a block away.
There are numerous descendants of the U.S. Lighthouse Service, U.S. Life-Saving Service, U.S. Coast Guard, and car ferry personnel residing in the area. Ludington became a major lake port during Michigan’s lumbering era.
A 100 foot panoramic mural of Pere Marquette in the pioneer era is also a major display being planned. Lighthouse lenses, car ferry artifacts, maritime memorabilia and archives will be transferred from the nearby Historical White Pine Village to the proposed museum. Retired USCG Chief and prominent photographer Todd Reed had earlier instigated the city’s acquisition of a USCG Sar 44-Foot Motor Life Boat. The museum is also seeking donations or loans of relevant maritime artifacts as well as the “ever popular” fund raising.
Ludington Mayor John Henderson quipped, when introducing GSA Representative Joseph O’Bradovic, that “the City of Ludington had acquired just about every local, federal historic asset available.” In presenting the deed to the Mayor, O’Bradovic pointed out “We have often disposed of property where we didn’t have a community that had not only the vision, but the endurance to go through the federal process, to go through the red tape that’s necessary to make a project like this work.” U.S. Representative Pete Hoekstra, who helped Ludington facilitate the transfer, pointed out that “Federal and local government can get things done and this project confirms that.” State Representative Dan Scripps noted that “the maritime museum celebrates the city and the water and forms a lot of what we are.” Historian Bill Anderson said “It signals a growing historic preservation ethic in our community.” Maritime awareness in the area blossomed when Big Sable Lighthouse opened full time. USCG Commander Rob Hemp summed it up succinctly, stating: “I am grateful to you (Ludington) for working to preserve our history and make it accessible to current and future generations.”
This story appeared in the
November 2010 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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