On our third day in the Keweenaw Peninsula, we headed out to explore Bete Grise. Bete Grise is French for "Gray Beast". I read that the beach was named after Native American sightings of a strange gray creature that roamed the area, aka, "gray beast". Oooh! Fortunately we didn't spot any gray beasts on our adventure, but we did spot three amazing new lighthouses! We charted a boat through Sand Point Charters, and headed off US-41 toward Lac La Belle. We stopped for a quick lunch at Bear Belly Gar & Grill, and met up with Captain Brian for our boat trip into the treacherous waters of Lake Superior. ;)
Fortunately the waters weren't treacherous at all... it was the perfect day to head out on a fishing boat! Of course, I'm the gal that charters a fishing boat for a lighthouse cruise. Captain Brian kept asking us if we wanted to fish at all... nope! I just want to see the lighthouses. Haha! Our first lighthouse we saw as we were exiting the channel into Lake Superior was the Mendota (Bete Grise) Lighthouse. It was originally built in 1895, and until 1996, it was a private residence, and not in commission. It was recently purchased by Gary Kohs, when he saw this lighthouse in 1997 on a motorcycle trip. He said it was "love at first sight" and it became his dream to restore this historic property to its original condition and have it become a working lighthouse once again. (Can I give him a hug?) So, he did just that! It's honestly so beautiful. It looks like it's straight out of a fairy tale. They found the original Fresnel Lens, and it's again an active aid to navigation. One of my favorite things about this lighthouse too is that there are no roads/pathways via land; you have to navigate there by boat!
The second lighthouse we saw, Gull Rock Lighthouse, has been on my wishlist for years. The lighthouse is built on Gull Rock, which is the “peak of an underwater mountain” between the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula and Manitou Island. If you can imagine back in the day with no lights, navigating around this little island would be extremely dangerous, so it was essential a lighthouse needed to be built. It was established in 1867, and in 1901, an additional wall was built to protect the lighthouse from waves crashing over the island, and in 1913, the light was automated. In 2005, the station was transferred to the Gull Rock Lightkeepers, a nonprofit organization. They are working to restore the lighthouse, which is still an active navigational aid. We've read so many lonely lighthouse keeper stories from this island. Can you imagine living here?
The third lighthouse we saw on our cruise was the Manitou Island Lighthouse, located on Manitou Island (not to be confused with North/South Manitou Islands!) It's just to the right of Gull Rock, so we made a quick spin around the island to get a look at the lighthouse. If you've ever been to Whitefish Point, you've basically seen this lighthouse, because it was built on the same model/design. Today, the lighthouse still serves as an aid to navigation. After viewing the lighthouses, we made the 25-mile trek back on Lake Superior to Bete Grise. We stopped to view a quartz trail in the water, and hopped off the boat and said our goodbyes to Captain Brian. If you're ever in the area, and want to head into Lake Superior (either for fishing or lighthouse viewing), you should definitely check out Sand Point Charters. Captain Brian was awesome and we really enjoyed our day on the water.