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Cherishing Charity Island Amongst the Lighthouses in the Thumb (Video)

Chelsea Dickens

Mon, 13 Aug 2018 22:06:18 EDT

 


click on the picture to enlarge

   
In the final feature of local lighthouses lays, Charity Island, actually of Arenac County, which boasts a privately owned lighthouse built in 1857. The lighthouse has been inactive since 1939.
Owned by The Department of Interior since Abraham Lincoln signed off in 1865, Bob and Karen Wiltse bought the island and lighthouse from the federal government officially in 1991, as part of a protection effort for an endangered species found only on the island through the Nature Conservancy group.
Wiltses certainly were not the first to live on the island. The first lighthouse keeper, a Scotsmen, inhabited the island for eight years with his wife and twelve step-children, starting in 1857.
Eventually, the light became obsolete but not before it became the first automated lens, in 1917, using calcium carbide to light a lamp. Interestingly enough, calcium carbide is a product of cooking limestone which can be found throughout the island.
Bob Wiltse originally was no light keeper, but somehow morphed into one after acquiring the ramshackle hut and light decades ago.
“It definitely is an asset to me and that people can travel out to see it, “Bob said. “Keeping something natural really appealed to me.”
A video on the island may be viewed as part of the article.

 

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