“Ahoy, NAHANT, you’re afire, get out.” The cry came November 29, 1897 on a frigid night at an ore dock in Escanaba MI. It was a zero night so everything, including water hoses, were frozen. When the fire finally burned itself out, the NAHANT was totally destroyed along with the dock and railroad cars. Two crew members on the NAHANT also perished.
The dock was never rebuilt and the NAHANT lies at the bottom of the bay. Today her burial place is marked by a green buoy. It is said divers enjoy her burial spot since she is in shallow water.
The buoy can be seen from Sand Point Lighthouse. Along with the lighthouse and buoy there is an interesting out building on the grounds — an 1897 boathouse has been restored to its original luster. The boathouse was originally at Squaw Point Light, Stonington Peninsula. The lighthouse was completely destroyed and the remains dismantled. The boathouse is home to a 1926 Coast Guard Surf Boat; these boats were used for rescues. The boat has also been restored to its original condition. Fires and shipwrecks were not uncommon on the lakes and many times the surf boat would be sent out to aid in rescue efforts. The surf boat barely fits in the boathouse since the original surf boat would have been smaller. On the shore side of the boathouse there were rails where the boat would be pushed into the water. Upon return the boat would be winched up the rails to the house.
Lighthouses are of particular interest. Maybe because of their romance, their intrigue or the stories by the sea, which they tell. Yet sometimes what we find surrounding the lighthouses paints a more vivid history. They tell a more complete story and help to put us in the time period. Sand Point Lighthouse is worth the stop, for the setting, the stories and the intrigue.