Photo courtesy of Isle Royal National Park Facebook page
Nestled between a cluster of islands on Lake Superior lies a momentous lighthouse built upon a rocky reef. The history books note the lighthouse sits on the location where two shipwrecks occurred ages ago, prior to the lighthouse’s construction.
As the Port of Duluth’s traffic rose, the need for a lighthouse became apparent. To avoid the stormy, uncertain waters of Lake Superior, vessel captains would voyage along Lake Superior’s north shore, only to fall victim to the rocky reefs that hid under the icy blue waters.
In 1907, the ten-story lighthouse went up two miles off the western shore of Isle Royale National Park. For over a century, the lighthouse has held its ground and weathered Lake Superior’s vicious storms, but the destiny of the lighthouse reached a critical point: restore the historic landmark or let it wash away?
Rock of Ages Lighthouse Preservation Society, an all-volunteer organization, was formed to restore the lighthouse as a monument to the skilled craftsmen who built it, and for all those who were stationed there over the years.
The organization’s mission states, “It is for their dedication and sacrifice, to build and maintain this beacon on the open waters of Lake Superior, that we must now work to save this Lighthouse for all future generations, before it is lost forever.”
In hopes to repair the lighthouse by 2020, Rock of the Ages Lighthouse Preservation Society (ROALPS) contacted Action Floor Systems to help replace the old and rotted floors inside the lighthouse. Action Floors contributed 1,200 square-feet of hardwood maple flooring to support this historic preservation effort.
“When the organization approached us, we thought it was an inspiring project and wanted to help,” says Action Floors President Tom Abendroth. “The effort that they are making to preserve history is incredible. We’re honored to be a part of it in a small way.”
“One of the major accomplishments to expedite this entire project was to transform the fourth-floor lighthouse Keeper’s Quarters and adjacent stairwells to a safe living space,” said ROAPLS Board Member Carne Andrews in a letter to Action Floors.
Since the only way to transport supplies, tools, volunteers and debris is by boat, this transformation allows volunteers to stay overnight and help save on transportation time and expenses.
While this laborious lighthouse restoration is ongoing, in 2017, ROALPS, along with their team of 29 generous volunteers, accomplished quite a bit.
The fourth-floor overhaul included, “hundreds of hours of scraping and reapplying plaster and painting the walls, removing the damaged floorboards and replacing them with Action Floors maple flooring, installing new reproduction windows to keep the area weather-tight until work can resume next summer, and removing debris to an off-island location,” added Andrews.
“This renovation of a great piece of history in Lake Superior will be an ongoing effort by this group,” says Abendroth. “They have a limited window of time to work due to winter weather, and even then, they are subject to the unpredictable. It’s a huge undertaking on their part and they deserve applause.”
Action Floors is proud to support Rock of the Ages Lighthouse Preservation Society in their efforts to keep the historic lighthouse shining and standing strong. To follow their efforts or inquire on ways you or your organization can help, visit their website or Facebook page.