Looking for an opportunity to preserve history, while getting in shape at the same time? How about dressing up as your favorite super-hero and running (or walking) through some of the most beautiful scenery Michigan has to offer? That might sound a bit odd…but imagine over 150 people, or “super-heroes”, all doing the same thing for a great cause!
You can do all of the above by signing up to participate in the Whitefish Point/Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum’s annual “Run or the Light.” This running and walking event is held on the second Saturday of October each year and has become a destination event for many people throughout Northern Michigan.
So, why a fundraiser for the lighthouse? Whitefish Point itself is a sandy and pine covered peninsula of land jutting dramatically out into cold waters of Lake Superior. All ship traffic in and out of Superior must pass this point, and throughout the years it has become a focal point for shipwrecks and maritime disasters. The 729’ Edmund Fitzgerald, which in some ways has come to represent shipwrecks on the Great Lakes, sank in over 500 feet of water just 17 miles northwest of Whitefish Point.
The Fitzgerald, made famous in Canadian folksinger Gordon Lightfoot’s haunting ballad, is but one of thousands of shipwrecks on the Great Lakes. Congress acted in the late 1840’s to place a lighthouse at Whitefish Point (to guide of the burgeoning ship traffic), and this original stone tower was replaced by the current, “Iron-Pile” tower in 1861. Abraham Lincoln was President, the U.S. was entering into the Civil War and a new lighthouse was being built at Whitefish Point!
That same lighthouse operates today and while the light in the lantern room is operated by the United States Coast Guard, the tower and Lighthouse Keeper’s Quarters are maintained by the Shipwreck Society. Maintaining such a structure can be challenging and very expensive, even in areas where the weather can be less destructive. Thus, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, a 501[c]3 non-profit, hosts a number of programs and events each year to raise awareness and funding for each of the historic structures at Whitefish Point, a National Historic Site. And…the annual Run for the Light is focused on the helping the Whitefish Point Light to stand tall for generations to come.
Want more information? Visit www.shipwreckmuseum.com/shipwreck-museum/whitefish-point-run-light/