Bumblebee Jasper
January 2023

Bumblebee Jasper is a soft (Mohs hardness of 5) and porous sedimentary rock that is bright yellow-orange, gray, and black.  Although Bumblebee jasper appears to be manipulated or man-made, specimens with their brilliant colors are natural, enhanced only through cutting and polishing. Bumblebee jasper is known locally as batu badar belerang. This roughly translates to “coal becoming sulfur.” It was named Bumblebee jasper by an American rock and mineral enthusiast who found the stone while working in Indonesia during the 1990s.

Bumblebee Jasper is not a true jasper, nor is it a single mineral.  Many colorful stones used for decorative purposes are given trade names.  Jasper is always a popular option because it is a mineral term with which most people are familiar. Jasper is associated with quartz (silica), and there is no quartz in Bumblebee stone. This rock is instead a rare limestone, primarily composed of radially grown fibrous calcite and volcanic ash.  Its white-gray color is calcite, while the black layers are pyrite (manganese oxide). Some people mistakenly report that the yellow-orange color is sulfur.  While the rock does contain traces of sulfur, the yellow-orange color has been lab-verified to be realgar.  The same report confirms a minuscule quantity of arsenic. Bumblebee Jasper is safe to wear but should be kept away from small children who may want to put it in their mouth. Any potential danger comes from inhaling its dust or microscopic fibers.  Lapidary cutting and polishing this material must be done with extreme caution and appropriate breathing protection must be used.

The only known deposits are found near Mount Papandayan, an active subduction-zone stratovolcano in West Java, Indonesia. The reported source location initially confused geologists because it is extremely rare to find limestone close to a volcano.  This rock, which formed during the upper Cenozoic era, is difficult to find. The deposits are hidden in the jungle and primarily mined using basic hand tools.  At least one of the mines can only be reached by hiking to the area on foot. Bumblebee jasper forms around fumaroles, which are cracks in the Earth where volcanic steam and gas escape without any accompanying liquids or solids. During the rainy season in Indonesia, fumaroles turn into boiling mud pools. Due to its popularity, huge amounts of Bumblebee jasper have been mined, leaving very little fine-grade material left to find.

Metaphysical experts suggest that Bumblebee jasper has an encouraging and empowering energy that helps.


Museum Founder’s Weather Information
January 2023

The following information was included in Axel Niemi’s book Michigan’s Glacial Gemstones of Northeastern Upper Peninsula. It is unclear if Axel researched this information, or more likely, these are his thoughts after decades of observing weather in Grand Marais. Because the Niemi family operated fish tugs for many decades, they were keen observers of the weather so as to not get caught out on Lake Superior in a storm.


Changes in wind and bad weather can usually be noted when distant objects, otherwise indistinct, loom out clear and sharp; when the sunset sky has red-tinged clouds floating high up in the sky. When crows seem to flit and tumble while flying; or in the spring on March 21, 22, or Equinox you notice which direction the wind blows and the winds for the next three months will prevail from that direction.

Fair Weather Signs

  1. At sunrise a grey and clear sky. At night, pale, grey night stars are visible, and skies are evenly grey after sunset. Early bird skies are also evenly grey all around the horizon before sunrise.
  2. Evening rainbows and the sun setting in a clear, red sky.
  3. Heavy morning dews on the ground. Evening mist that disappears in the rising morning sun.

Rainy Weather

  1. Before sunrise, the sky is red in the east.
  2. When stars and Milky Way show up clear and bright.
  3. When the sunset has a tinted halo around it.
  4. When the sun shines through a watery haze in the afternoon indicates a good sign of rain.
  5. When the grass is dry in the morning without dew.
  6. When sudden spiraling gusts of wind pick up dust on what at first is a fine day.
  7. When sparrows are seen busily washing in a puddle of water.
  8. It will keep raining when chickens keep on eating even after the rain begins to fall.

Other Weather Signs

  1. A red sky at night indicates fine weather. A red sky in the morning means bad weather or much wind or rain. A grey sky in the morning indicates fine weather.
  2. A light-yellow sunset indicates wind. A pale-yellow sky at sunset means rain.
  3. Soft-looking or delicate clouds foretell fine weather, with moderate breezes. Hard-edged oily, heavy-looking clouds indicate wind. The blacker, the more oily the clouds, the harder the wind will blow.
  4. The more ridged, tufted, darker, and rolled the clouds are, the stronger the winds.
  5. A dark, gloomy, blue sky is windy, while a light, blue sky means fine weather, but windy when there is low barometric pressure.
  6. Usually in the spring or post-equinox period, if there is a northerly windstorm and the wind dies down during sunset, you may be sure the storm will increase again at sunrise if the sky has not cleared and remains overcast with heavy clouds. The winds and stormy conditions will remain until the last of the cloud formations each day eventually disappear.

All in a Stone

Through aimlessly drifts clouds apart
Serenely green, God’s work of art.
Across a sea of mahogany
Cool ripples blend in harmony.
No man-made charms could ever feel
This handy work, so cool! So real.
Life’s endless struggles seem to float
Twix rippled waters, trouble-soaked.
This rusty tear drop streaked in green
Helps keep your chin up in between!

Old rockhounds never die – they just slowly petrify.
Old lapidarist’s never die – they slowly grind away their marbles.

January 2023

I did not realize I have not updated the Gitche Gumee Museum’s web page in a year. The year 2022 was crazy and did not allow me time to accomplish all of the desired tasks. This will be my last update on this page since I have permanently closed the museum. The new webpage for the new Agatelady Rock Shop can be accessed at www.agateladyrockshop.com.

The new webpage has been created to explain services and products offered through the new rock shop including scheduling private appointments, reserving seats at the weekly 6:00 pm Friday lecture (Understanding and Finding Agates), requesting private group lectures, and more. The new website will not have updates like the old website. However, I will leave this original webpage accessible so that people can access its archive of information.

Three spring photos are included including a Lake Superior sunset image, a photo taken in the Grand Sable Dunes, and a picture showing a large amount of driftwood on a Grand Marais beach.

Three photos from the 2022 summer are included including one of the Au Sable lighthouse, a photo from the top of the lighthouse looking east toward the Grand Sable Dunes and Grand Marais, and a picture of one of the shipwreck sections located on the beach west of Au Sable lighthouse.

Photos taken last fall include two showing massive waves hitting the outer harbor lighthouse and pier in Grand Marais, MI, and three pictures taken up in the Grand Sable Dunes. The fourth photo shows one of the dunes as well as one of the telegraph poles that is still standing after more than a century. The telegraph line was installed to connect Au Sable lighthouse to Grand Marais. The sixth photo is one I took from Coast Guard Point in Grand Marais. I had never seen this picket-fence-looking light show before but was told by a friend of mine (Shawn Malone) that it is a STEVE, or Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement. These are often visible from areas farther south than a typical aurora, and it looks like a ribbon of pink or mauve light, with green columns of light passing through the ribbon. Auroras, by contrast, usually are shimmering green ribbons.

STEVE’s mauve streaks occur when charged particles are heated up high in the atmosphere. For a while, STEVE’s origins were elusive. The picket-fence-formation was investigated in 2016 by citizen scientists in western Canada. The new study examined satellite data gathered above STEVE events in April 2008 and May 2016. The measurements included information about Earth’s magnetic and electrical fields in the magnetosphere, the region of Earth’s atmosphere where the planet’s magnetic field is stronger than any influence coming from the sun. Then, scientists compared the satellites’ findings with amateur photos of STEVE taken from the ground at the same time. When STEVE was on display, the study authors discovered that energetic electrons were pouring into Earth’s ionosphere, the layer of the planet’s atmosphere where atoms lose electrons due to solar and cosmic radiation. The friction caused by the movement of the electrons creates a pinkish glow, almost like an incandescent light bulb. Satellite information further revealed how the “picket fence” aspect of STEVE develops. The data revealed waves moving from Earth’s magnetosphere to the ionosphere. In this region, the waves can both energize electrons and move them out of the magnetosphere, creating the picket-fence appearance, which happens simultaneously in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. The phenomenon appears as a very narrow arc extending for hundreds or thousands of miles, aligned east–west. It generally lasts for twenty minutes to an hour.

Since I get more time to get out adventuring in the winter, I have more pictures from this season. The first shows a shelf of Lake Superior rocks pushed up the beach by waves and frozen in place. The second shows Tahquamenon Falls at sunset. The third was taken in the Grand Sable Dunes. The fourth and fifth pictures are views of Sable Lake are taken from the boat ramp and from the dunes. The seventh and eighth images demonstrate just how deep the snow gets in Grand Marais. The ninth show the outer harbor lighthouse peaking up above the mound of ice piled on the western pier along the channel leading from Lake Superior to Grand Marais Bay. The last picture was taken from the bluff of the dunes overlooking Lake Superior. It shows melting mounds of ice covered in sand that accumulates on top when the ice mounds melt.

January 2023

The 2022 agate hunting season was a little better than the 2021 season, which was better than the season in 2020. It became clear this year that there is still a large gap in skill between those who exert the effort to get up the learning curve, spend considerable time agate hunting, and maximize their patience.

The number of people visiting the Gitche Gumee Museum last summer significantly increased, most likely because I had announced that the museum was permanently closed in August. Thus, I did not have much time to look at customers’ agates let alone take photos of them. So I do not have many photos to post in this last webpage update.

Melissa and Charlotte Bolen visited the Grand Marais area from their home in Pinckney, MI. They found the beautifully banded agate shown above.

Another visitor to our beaches was Mark G., from Beaverton, MI. He found this nice 4.42 ounce fortification agate.

An unusual specimen was found by Pam Vermette from Tawas, MI. It has a carnelian cap with cold-water agate-like structure.

Mineral of the Month – The element, Silicon January 2022

In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elements cannot be broken down into simpler substances by any chemical reaction. In school we learned about elements via the Periodic Table of Elements.

There are 118 elements that have been identified and listed in the Periodic Table, 94 that occur naturally on Earth (depending on how you count them). The lightest elements are hydrogen and helium (atomic numbers 1 and 2); the heaviest is uranium (atomic number 92). The remaining 24 heavier elements, not found today on Earth, have been produced artificially. Only around 32 elements, such as silver and gold, can be found in an uncombined, relatively pure form. Nearly all other naturally occurring elements occur in the Earth as compounds or mixtures. For example, air is primarily a mixture of the elements nitrogen, oxygen, and argon, but also can contain compounds including carbon dioxide and water. 

Silicon (atomic number 14) makes up 27.7% of the Earth’s crust by mass and is the second most abundant element (oxygen is the first). It does not occur uncombined in nature, but usually mixes with oxygen to form silica minerals such as quartz, amethyst, agate, flint, and opal. Pure silicon has the same crystal structure as diamond, which is made of carbon – the element that sits above silicon in the periodic table.

It is important to point out that silicon and silicone are quite different. Silicon is a naturally occurring element, number 14 on the periodic table. Silicone is a synthetic material made of silicon–oxygen polymers used for a variety of applications.

When ultrapure, silicon is a gray solid with a glossy sheen. Although it looks like a metal, silicon is classified as a metalloid – it conducts electricity only under certain conditions – making it well-suited for the electronics industry (e.g., computer chips).

The silicon images shown above and in the photos below have been purified from silicon dioxide quartz (silica). The manufacture of this silicon (which is 98% pure) occurs in two stages. The oxygen is removed to produce metallurgical grade silicon, such as the specimens shown here. It is then further refined to produce semiconductor grade silicon.

If it were not for the element silicon, there would be no agates on Earth. Thank you silicon!


Periodic Table image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Periodic_table_large.png

Silicon element: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Electron_shell_014_Silicon.svg

Silicon info: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Silicon.svg

Silicone: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Maryse_cuisine.JPG

Silicon computer chip: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:VIA_Nano_E-Series_Chip_Image_-_45_Degree_(4542811524).jpg

The remaining photos on this page were taken by Karen Brzys.

History Gem – Grand Marais Shipwrecks

I received two emails from Miles Hague that included shipwreck photos he took in 2004 and 2005 of shipwreck remnants located on the beach east of Grand Marais. I researched information I posted on my blog on May 4, 2011, about these shipwrecks, (www.agatelady.blogspot.com), including photos I took at the time. When I posted the blog, I did some research to find out more about shipwrecks. There were three ships that went down in a storm on November 19, 1914. First, here is a photo of an 1871 schooner that most likely resembled the ships that went down in the 1914 storm.

Here are two articles about the wrecks.

Seney, Mich., Nov. 21. — Lifesavers reported today that a total of 12 bodies have been found on the south shore of Lake Superior during the 35 hours’ search which followed the fearful gale that swept the lake Thursday. The four bodies found since the searchers previously reported were all men. The two corpses of women have been unidentified. Among the wreckage cast ashore today were several life belts stenciled “Steamer Curtis.” As no trace of the steamer, C. F. Curtis has been obtained and as it is considered certain that one of her schooners, the Annie M. Peterson, sank near Grand Marais, local marine men believe the Curtis also went to the bottom. It is also claimed there were only seven persons on board the Peterson. The Curtis was known to have been towing the schooners, Peterson and S. E. Marvin when the gale struck her. No wreckage of the Marvin has been found so far as searchers in this vicinity have been able to learn.

Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Nov. 21. — Up to a late hour today, the last 24 hours had revealed little information to clear up the mystery surrounding the fate of the steamer C. F. Curtis and the lumber laden schooners S. E. Marvin and Annie M. Peterson in tow of the Curtis, which were caught Thursday in the season’s most severe storm on Lake Superior. That the Peterson went down in “the graveyard of the Great Lakes” near Grand Marais, seems absolutely certain in view of her bodies and wreckage which have been washed ashore. Two of the eight bodies recovered last night were identified today as members of the Peterson’s crew. Whether some of the other bodies were from Curtis or Marvin remained to be determined after identification had been made. The three missing vessels carried 26 persons in their combined crews. The fact that two of the bodies recovered were those of unidentified women caused many to believe the Curtis met the same fate as the Peterson inasmuch as it was thought one or both of women had been employed on that vessel. The sailing records did not reveal any women hands on the two schooners. The three ships cleared from Baraga with lumber for North Tonawanda, N.Y. Wednesday morning. They should have passed this port long ago but were not heard from until the Peterson wreckage was found yesterday. None of the several other steamers which went aground along the upper lakes during the gale was seriously damaged according to reports today.

There were 3 sections of wreck exposed on the beach. The longest section is at least 100 feet in length. The C.F. Curtis propeller schooner was built in 1882 in Marine City, MI. She was 197 feet in length. The Selden E. Marvin was built in 1881 in Toledo, Ohio. She was 175 feet in length. The Annie F Peterson was built in Green Bay WI in 1874. She was 191 feet in length. It is unclear if the sections of wreckage are from one of these ships, or from multiple.

During my research for this posting, I found another article about shipwrecks.

November 19, 1914: Three vessels wrecked on Lake Superior 

On this day on Lake Superior in 1914, the steamer C. F. Curtis and two barges under her tow wrecked seven miles east of Grand Marais on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. On the 19th the Curtis was headed to Tonawanda, New York, towing the lumber barges Annie M. Peterson (formerly a three-masted schooner) and Seldon E. Marvin, when she steered all three vessels directly into a November gale. All three vessels were lost, as were 28 men, fourteen on the Curtis and seven each on the Peterson and the Marvin. It was another huge blow to the vessels’ owners, the Edward Hines Lumber Company, which had lost three other vessels just the week before. The area in which Curtis, Marvin, and Peterson went down, reported the Duluth News Tribune, was “lined with the hulks of sunken ships…the worst spot on Lake Superior” and “the Graveyard of the Great Lakes.” In October 2003, Grand Marais residents spotted the remains of a shipwreck offshore about 6 miles east of the harbor. They are thought to be what remains of the Annie M. Peterson.

In addition, during my research, I found a website with even more information about the C.F. Curtis Steamer. I had to sign up for the wrecksite.eu website and pay a small fee, but they sent me the following information.

Below are photos taken by Miles Hague of the wreck site in 2004:

From another angle, here is a photo I coincidentally took of the wreckage in 2004.

In 2005, Miles went back to the site and took several pictures of the shipwreck sections. As you can see, more of the wreckage was exposed. Also, down-shore currents piled lots of driftwood onto the shipwreck pieces.

I went back to the same section of shoreline six years later in 2011. As you can see in the photos below, much of the wreckage was again buried in the sand. Not only was the sand carried by the west-to-east down-shore currents to build up that section of the shoreline, but the same currents also carried away most of the driftwood. There were two main sections of shipwreck pieces. The three photos below show the west sections.

The last three photos show the east sections.

I will make it a point this summer to revisit the wreckage site to see what is left.





Shipwreck photographs by Miles Hague and Karen Brzys.

Customer Agate Finds – January 2022

The 2021 agate hunting season was a little better than the 2020 season.  It became clear this year that there is still a large gap in skill between those who exert the effort to get up the learning curve, spend considerable time agate hunting, and maximize their patience. One couple who has visited the museum in the past came in with their agate treasures. I took a couple of photos of their agates, but they did not want to be identified. They spent between eight and ten hours a day for a whole week at the end of August, which is significantly more time than most agate hunters spend. Because of their time commitment and patience, they were able to walk to beaches that other people do not go to. Thus, they were rewarded.

In July, Lugina Roberts from Swartz Creek, MI, visited the Grand Marais area. She found this nice carnelian agate.

However, there are many great agates included with this webpage update. Let’s begin with a repeat agate finder, Auden Lloyd, from Northville, MI found a couple of other nice agates in the Grand Marais, MI area the first week of August. I had photos on my IPad, which decided to not work anymore. The Lloyd family sent me some more images including a picture taken of Auden right after he found the agate. One side of the specimen appears to be mostly quartz and amethyst – the other side is clearly agate. Nice find, Auden!

I had two people send me photos of what appears to be cold-water agates. What are cold water agates, you ask? Well, there seem to be different opinions on the subject. This may be because the term is loosely used to identify agate-like rocks that are not as definitive as traditional Lake Superior agates. There may be at least two different categories. Some cold-water agates formed in limestone rock cavities when ancient seawater with a high concentration of silica was absorbed into the sedimentary rock. It is called a “cold water agate” because water from the ancient seas originated from the Earth’s surface making it “cold water.” This water source differs from the hot, silica-enriched water that formed traditional Lake Superior agates. Other cold-water agates may be chert-covered stromatolite fossils wherein drusy quartz and/or chalcedony agate replaced some of the fossil remains. 

The two photos below are cold-water agates found by Annemarie Hams in her yard in northern Wisconsin.

Samuel R. Erven found this 10.2-pound specimen in Grand Rapids, MN. This is clearly a mixed silica rock that most likely is a type of cold-water agate.

In the fall, Debbie Drovdahl found this nice water-washed, skip-an-atom agate in the Grand Marais, MI area. Information about these specimens is included in one of the Mineral of the Month posts on this webpage.

This past summer, Kristin Howard, found this intricate Lake Superior agate in the western Upper Peninsula. It is a very complex agate with hurricane-like banding as well as possible tubes and other structures.

In late September, the Dintemann family from River Falls, WI made an appointment to visit the museum. All three kids (Edgar, Nina, and Hattie) found an agate!

Congratulations to everyone who found agates in the Grand Marais area this past summer!

Current Grand Marais Scenes – January 2022

Because it has been several months since I posted a web page update, I will include photos from late summer, fall, and early winter.

The four late summer photos below include a photo I took of the Mackinac Bridge when I was on a ferry going to Mackinac Island to visit with my oldest son and his family, a photo of Sable Falls, a photo of the ferry at Kitch-iti-kipi Springs (located west of Manistique, MI), and a photo of me on the golf course.

Three fall photos are below including one of the inland portions of the Pictured Rocks located not far from the Beaver campground area, a photo taken at sunset from the beach east of Grand Marais, and a photo of fall colors taken during a hike in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Six photos taken during early winter are below including two taken on the beach near Woodland Park, one picture taken on a foggy day in the Grand Sable Dunes, two photos taken in the Burt Township School Forest (located four miles east of town), one picture of the future Agatelady Rock Shop, four photos taken during a beach snowshoe on and west of Coast Guard Point, and two pictures taken at the Sable Lake boat ramp.

Mineral of the Month – Pegmatite July 2021

Pegmatites are a variety of granite with the largest crystals in the granitic family of rocks, usually larger than a half inch (1.25 cm). Extremely large crystals have been found in pegmatites, including some over 30 feet in diameter (10 m). Pegmatites formed below the Earth’s surface at the top or along the outer edges of magma chambers, or in smaller intrusions leading out of the magma chambers. This rock developed during the final stage of crystallization within magma chambers, so it was the last rock to solidify. Like granite, most minerals in pegmatites include quartz, feldspar, and mica. Rare minerals are also found in pegmatites such as beryl (emerald and aquamarine), tourmaline, topaz, fluorite, apatite, corundum (ruby), tin, tungsten, and others. The photo above is a pegmatite boulder with large emerald crystals.

The Crabtree Pegmatite photos shown above are from North Carolina. They have black schorl tourmaline crystals, pinkish-reddish garnet crystals, medium-gray quartz, and whitish-gray feldspar. This deposit from the Devonian period is around 400 million years old.

The above Brazilian pegmatite specimen has large mica and feldspar crystals.

This Colorado pegmatite has large feldspar and quartz crystals (1.4 billion years old).

The photos above show that mineral crystals in pegmatites may not be uniform in size as they are in granite. Pegmatites usually have different zones of crystallization with a variety of mineral sizes and assemblages.

The two photos above show pegmatites from Lake Superior beach. Both of these specimens are intermediate between granite and pegmatite.

This cross-polarized microscopic image of a Norway pegmatite shows large mica and feldspar crystals. Field of view = .13 inches wide (3.3 mm).

Figure Cites (in order of appearance above):

–James St. John, File:Emeralds in pegmatitic granite 8 (37992559234).jpg – Wikimedia Commons.

–James St. John, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Garnets_and_tourmaline_in_pegmatitic_ granite_(Crabtree_Pegmatite,_Devonian;_Crabtree_Mountain,_Mitchell_County,_North_Carolina,_ USA)_1_(25144467358).jpg.

–James St. John, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Garnets_and_tourmaline_in_pegmatitic_ granite_(Crabtree_Pegmatite,_Devonian;_Crabtree_Mountain,_Mitchell_County,_North_Carolina,_ USA)_1_(25144467358).jpg.

–Géry Parent, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mica,_feldspar.jpg.

–James St. John, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Graphic_granite_(runite)_(Eight_Mile_Park_ Pegmatite_District,_


–Karen Brzys photograph.

–Karen Brzys photograph.

–Karen Brzys photograph.

–Karen Brzys photograph.

–Jonas Börje Lundin, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:H.ellglimmer_in_Pegmatit.jpg.

History Gem – Grand Marais Harbor Range Lighthouses

During the 1860s and 1870s, entering the harbor at Grand Marais was difficult due to sandbars that built up outside of the bay. A federal project was adopted on August 5, 1881, to build a safe channel into the harbor, and thus create a harbor of refuge. Over the next decade, more than $250,000 (equal to $6.5 million today) was expended to construct parallel 700 foot (213 m) piers with a deep channel dredged between them, and then between 1895 and 1897, a 5,770 feet (1,760 m) dike was built east of the piers to enclose the harbor and protect anchorage during storms. This dike eventually eroded away and was rebuilt a few years ago.

Along the southern shoreline of Lake Superior, lighthouses were erected beginning in the mid-19th century to warn ships of treacherous points and guide them into harbors. In its 1892 annual report, the Lighthouse Board made the following request for funds to erect a light for the new harbor of refuge:

There is no harbor between White Fish Bay and Grand Island. Grand Marais has been for some time under improvement by the United States as a harbor of refuge, and the work has now advanced to a point where it is desirable to light it. It is estimated that a suitable light and bell can be established here at a cost not exceeding $15,000, and it is recommended that an appropriation of this amount be made therefor.

1892 annual report of the Lighthouse Board 

Congress provided the requested amount on March 2, 1895, and in November of that year, the Point Iroquois bell tower, which had been replaced by a steam fog signal, was taken down and transported to Grand Marais, where it was bolted to the western pier and capped with a decagonal iron lantern room. The square, the pyramidal tower stood forty-three feet tall, was open at its base, and had two enclosed rooms, one above the other, just beneath the lantern room. The upper room served as a service room for the light, while the lower room housed the striking apparatus for the fog bell and opened onto an elevated wooden walkway that led shoreward. The tower’s fixed white light and fog bell were placed in operation on December 10, 1895, by Keeper Samuel F. Rogers, who had previously been in charge of Spectacle Reef Lighthouse in Lake Huron.

After completing the pierhead light and bell, the Lighthouse Board had enough funds to construct a keeper’s dwelling and a second light to form a range, but as the appropriation was for just “a light and bell,” it had to ask for authorization to repurpose the money. On June 4, 1897, Congress passed an act that allowed the Lighthouse Board to build an additional light and complete the station as long as it didn’t spend more than $2,000. A contract for a metal tower was made on September 27, 1897, and the tower was delivered to the depot in Detroit roughly two months later. After the inner end of the west pier had been strengthened, the metal tower was erected the following June, and the rear range light was first exhibited on July 18, 1898.

The new iron tower stood nearly sixty-two feet tall, and like its companion front tower, was painted white with a black lantern room. The rear tower has an enclosed, eight-and-a-half-foot-tall watch room, accessed by an iron ladder in two flights, and features a fifth-order, Henry-Lepaute Fresnel lens that originally produced a fixed white light.

In 1905, the characteristic of Grand Marais Range Lights was changed from fixed white to fixed red so mariners could differentiate them from the lights along the shore, and the front tower was moved seaward near the end of the recently extended pier. An elevated metal walkway, 560 feet long, was built to bridge the gap between the existing walkway, and the front tower in its new location. A storm on January 6, 1906, carried away roughly 250 feet of the new walkway, but it was replaced the following May. A fireproof oil house was built near the keeper’s dwelling in 1909. In November 1922, the fog signal in the front light was changed from a bell to an electric siren, and the light was changed from fixed red to a red flash every two seconds. Then, on June 12, 1923, the fog signal was changed to an air diaphone, sounding a one-second blast every fifteen seconds. At some point, the current steel tower replaced the old wooden bell tower used for the front range light.

During the 1960s and 70s, portions of the pier the range lighthouses sat on were capped with concrete. In addition, the west pier was lengthened by 802 feet (244 m) by the addition of a cellular sheet pile extension. Keepers stayed in the keeper’s quarters until 1982; in 1984, the Grand Marais Historical Society received and restored the house.

The Grand Marais harbor entrance still has two lighthouses, located on opposite ends of the channel leading into the harbor 2,610 feet (800 m) apart. To visit the lighthouses, drive past the marina and out the short peninsula (Coast Guard Point) that runs along the west side of the bay and you will find a parking area. There is a west pier and an east pier which protect a narrow channel that allows boats to access Grand Marais Bay. The outer range lighthouse is located on the north at the end of the west pier. The inner range lighthouse is located on the south end of the pier.  Coho, steelhead, and whitefish can be caught off this structure. If you visit the lighthouses or fish off the pier, please be careful in high wave conditions.

The current outer range lighthouse was erected in 1908. It is automated, has a steel structure, with a room perched on top, and has a total height of 34 feet. The inner range light was also erected in 1908 but is made of cast iron. This light is a bit taller at 55 feet. Both range lights are still operational, and although the lantern in the outer range light has been replaced with a modern acrylic lens, the inner range light retains its Fresnel lens, one of the few Fresnel lenses still in use in lighthouses. By lining up the lights, vessels are guided into the harbor. Range lights aren’t warning lights, they’re welcoming lights!