Since 2016, Kathy and I have traversed the country many times as we’ve volunteered or workamped along the way.
All but one (unnamed) location have been great experiences and our most recent was no exception. Let me tell you a little about it.
40 Mile Point Lighthouse at Rogers City, Michigan along the western Lake Huron Coast plays host to thousands of visitors annually and offers RV’ing volunteers the opportunity to live onsite in their rig for two week stints while they act as museum docents or “guest lightkeepers”.
We met Matt and Sherry in the fall of 2016 while we were volunteering at Escapees “Rainbows End” RV Park in Livingston, Texas. We’ve always stayed in touch, sometimes working with them at campgrounds or museums. Sometimes we just meet for a meal as we move through each other’s location.
They had told us about 40 Mile Point and the stories of their experiences there piqued our interest. We sent an email with our resume to the Volunteer Coordinator in August of ’22 and by February of ’23 we had a commitment for this past August.
We were to arrive on Monday July 31st with our first day of duty Tuesday the first of August. We had been to the Escapees Chapter 6 Rally at Ludington Michigan the week before and we were taking it easy at a small campground at Alpena when I got an email from the lighthouse that said we could come on up early if we wanted because one of the couples had to leave due to a medical issue so there was a spot available for our rig. So on up we went.
We spent the next couple of days getting to know “the Lay of the land” so to say and had the opportunity to sit around the campfire at night and learn from the outgoing crew some of the do’s and don’ts of the program.
The lighthouse is closed to visitors on Mondays so we took that day to go into town, do our grocery shopping and laundry (at the cleanest laundromat we’ve ever seen!)
Tuesday morning we all (the new crew of eight) met with Leonard and Shawn. They led us on a tour of the buildings, filled us in on the do’s and don’ts, showed us how to use the register in the gift shop, and set us loose as visitors started to arrive by about. 10:00am. Full speed ahead!
It’s called 40 Mile Point because it’s located 40 nautical miles to the southeast of the Straights of Mackinac. All the buildings on the grounds including the lightkeepers apartments, the light tower (53 steps), the oil house, the fog signal building, and the privy were built in 1896 at a cost of $25,000.
The duty schedule works like this. There are four volunteer couples. Couple A works all day (10am-4pm) while couple B works the morning, couple C works the afternoon, and couple D has the day off. The couples on duty changes every day so with the rotation everyone gets two days off each week.
Duty stations include; top of the tower explaining the of the light’s role in mariner safety, the bottom of the tower being the lightkeepers quarters for he and his family, a third volunteer staffs the the gift shop, and the 4th person staffs the Calcite freighter pilot house.
The lighthouse grounds are actually a county park but the buildings are wholly maintained by the 40 Mile Point Lighthouse Society, a group of dedicated volunteers who are dedicated to the preservation of this historical location and to educating the public on it’s significance to both the maritime and local community.
Kathy and I really enjoyed our time there (first two weeks of August). The weather was warm but not too hot or humid, there was always a nice breeze off the lake, the other volunteers we worked with were all wonderful people, the town of Rogers City is a really nice clean small town with good restaurants, a great meat market, and be sure to stop at “The Painted Lady” for coffee and ice cream!
If you’re interested in volunteering as a Guest Lightkeeper for 2-4 weeks in the summer, get in touch with me and I’ll see that you are put in contact with the Volunteer Coordinator. To find out more about 40 Mile Point Lighthouse, visit their website.
We are now back in Ohio getting ready to head out next week to our winter home at Rovers Roost in Casa Grande, Arizona. C’mon out and visit us sometime! (seriously)