If you have already looked at the "History" page of my website, you may recall that there I featured both Big Sable 1 and Big Sable 2. The "1" and the "2" are simply my way of identifying the two sketches, where I sketched Big Sable 1 on September 4, 1999 and Big Sable 2 on August 12, 2003. I have now sketched Big Sable eight times total , and you can view all eight sketches here at my website. Big Sable 2 is my favorite view, by far, and you can see it at the bottom of this page.
Big Sable Point Lighthouse is located at the north end of Ludington State Park on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. You can get there by driving seven miles north of Ludington, Michigan on highway M116. If you wish to drive your car into the park you must pay the recreation passport fee, which in 2020 is $34 for non residents and $17 for residents ($12 if you purchase the passport with your car license).
Once inside the park you will then either ride your bike or walk another mile and three quarters to the lighthouse. There is an easy trail with benches and interpretive displays along the way. In years past you could also make an easy walk along the Lake Michigan beach, but as the lake level is very high this year, you won't have much beach to walk on.
Once you arrive at the lighthouse, you will find several benches outside for you to rest. On the north side of the lighthouse there is a faucet and bowl for your dog to get a drink. Only service animals are allowed inside the lighthouse, but feel free to ask a keeper to watch your pet, if you want to go inside. Downstairs you will find a gift shop where you can buy T-shirts, trinkets and snacks. There is also a video room where you can view some artifacts (e.g. logger's dollar) and can watch a five minute video on the history of lighthouses in general and Big Sable in particular. Sadly, the second floor of the lighthouse is off limits, as that is where the five to seven keepers who man the lighthouse live during their tour.
There is a modest $5 fee to climb to the top of the tower. I suggest that you do make the climb, as it is just an additional 130 steps more than the 3600 steps that you walk one way to the lighthouse. The view at the top of the tower is fabulous, as the horizon is about 13 miles away, and you can see the Badger carferry twice a day, many freighters, and lots of salmon fishing boats. Be sure to ask the keeper at the top to take your picture.
My wife Shirley and I joined the Big Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association in 2002, and we have regularly been volunteer keepers there ever since. BSPLKA has changed over the years and is now SPLKA (Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association), as the organization now manages not only Big Sable but also Ludington N Breakwater, Little Sable and White River Light Station and Museum. For more information about SPLKA, please visit www.splka.org.
This summer at Big Sable I am part of keeper tour #5 which runs from June 8 through June 22. In my Big Sable 2 sketch below the NW corner, second floor window is my bedroom, which is a real head banger, as part of the ceiling forms the roof. I invite you to visit Martha, Pat, Carolyn, Pat, Tim and me during tour #5 this year, if this fits into your plans. If you do visit Big Sable during this time, please mention that you have looked at my website. I would love to chat with you.
Bill Mitchell Lighthouse Art - March 4, 2020