Evolution of the Mendota Lighthouse

The following information is transcribed from an official report dated June 20, 1930 found in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. prepared by Charles A. Park, Superintendent of Lighthouses, 3760 East Jefferson, Detroit, Michigan.

1867 Mendota — An appropriation for a light-house at this place is now available, and efforts are being made to procure the requisite title to the proposed site. As soon as this is accomplished proposals for the construction of the necessary buildings will be called for, the law making the appropriation requiring that the work be done by contract.

1868 Mendota — An appropriation of $14,000, approved March 2, 1867, is available for the purpose of establishing this light station. The act of Congress making the appropriation for this lighthouse provides that it shall be built by contract. A site has been purchased, and the title approved by the Attorney General of the United States. It is proposed to place a wooden tower at the end of the south pier, and to erect a keeper's dwelling on shore.

1869 Mendota — In accordance with the provision of the act of Congress making the appropriation of $14,000 for a light at this place, a contract was entered into, and the structure, to cost $11,220, will be ready for delivery by the 1st of November next, the time named for its completion.

1870 507. Mendota, Michigan, Lake Superior. — This light, designed to guide vessels through an artificial cut to Lac La Belle, having been found to be of no use to navigators as a coast light, and as there is no commerce or at present attraction for commercial enterprise, and insufficient depth of water for any freight or passenger vessel navigating Lake Superior, its discontinuance has been ordered from and after the close of the present navigating season.

1871 Mendota, Lake Superior. — This Light-station having been discontinued by the order of the honorable the Secretary of the treasury, it will be dismantled when visited by the steamer Haze upon her present cruise, and the apparatus, etc., used elsewhere.

1892 Mendota, Bete Grise Bay, entrance to Lac La Belle, Lake Superior, Michigan. — Vessels west bound try in the fall to use this point as a harbor of refuge in which to await fair weather before attempting to make the passage around Keweenaw Point. The light formerly there was discontinued in 1870, because of the failure of the local business, and the light tower was moved to and used a Marquette Breakwater. The keeper's dwelling, however, remains at Mendota. With the increase of shipping on Lake Superior, Bete Grise Bay is being largely used by day as a harbor of refuge in gales from the north to the southwest, but at night it is now almost inaccessible. If a light is placed near the head of the bay, it will be of marked advantage in guiding vessels after dark to a safe anchorage. The plan, therefore, has the Board's favorable recommendation. It is estimated that this light can be reestablished at a cost not to exceed $7,500, and it is recommended that an appropriation of this amount be made therefore.

1893 — Mendota, Bete Grise Bay, entrance to Lac La Belle, Lake Superior, Michigan. — The establishment of a light here, at a cost not to exceed $7,500, was authorized by the act approved February 15, 1893.

1894 — Mendota, Bete Grise Bay, entrance to Lac La Belle, Lake Superior, Michigan. — The following statement was made in the Board's last annual report: "The reestablishment of a light here, at a cost not to exceed $7,500, was authorized by the act approved February 15, 1893, but no appropriation therefor has yet been made."

The brick house of the discontinued station has been ruined by inroads of the storms of the past winter to such an extent that it cannot be utilized in the reestablishment of a station here, except as material. Hence the Board recommends that an appropriation of $10,000, instead of $7,500, be made for the reestablishment of this light.

1895 1309. Mendota, Bete Grise Bay, Lake Superior, Michigan. — An appropriation of $7,500 was made by the act approved March 2, 1895, for this station. Plans, general description, and estimates of cost of a keeper's dwelling and a light were made.

1896 1422 Mendota, Lake Superior, Michigan. — Bids were obtained for furnishing the material for the construction of this light-station. Contracts were made for the metal work. The material was delivered by the tender Amaranth at the site in September, 1895, and the cook house, quarters for the men, etc., were erected. The old house was torn down, and all the material that could be used in the new structure was cleaned and piled. The foundation of the tower and dwelling was completed and the brick work laid up to the top of the first floor joists. The boathouse was almost completed and the fence posts were all set. During October the oil house and the outhouse was completed. The dwelling and all outbuildings, laying sidewalks, etc., were completed in November. On November 30, 1895, a fourth-order flashing white light, varied by a flash every 45 seconds, was established here.

1897 Mendota, Lake Superior, Michigan. — The characteristic of the light was changed on October 31, 1896, from a fixed white varied by a flash every 45 seconds to a fixed white light.

1903 400.Mendota, Lake Superior, Michigan. — A boathouse, etc., was built.

1906 397.Mendota, Lake Superior, Michigan. — A frame barn was built.

1907 404.Mendota, Lake Superior, Michigan. — Some 110 concrete slabs were made at the Detroit light-house depot for laying cement walks.