Sturgeon Lighthouse and Old Bailey School (and attempt at Negwegon SP)

Jul/8/2011 6 Malia Lane
Michigan

July 2, 2011

It was hard to ever want to leave Harrisville State Park I enjoyed it there so much, and I think if I would have been allowed to stay on that beachfront site I had for one day/night, I might not have ventured out for a day trip ever, but I did get out this day to go visit Sturgeon Point Lighthouse.

It was very similar to Tawas Point Lighthouse, and again I had a perfectly gorgeous day for lighthouse viewing.

The interior is furnished with original and period pieces and I always enjoy a glimpse into the lives of people in our really not-so-distant past, but when you think about their lives versus how we live today, it seems like different worlds.

I’ll deal with my RV’s black and grey water tanks and hoses rather than under-the-bed chamber pots, thank you!  🙂

I particularly liked this mural of the lightkeeper back in the days when he’d have to maneuver these 84 stairs several times during the night to keep the light burning.

I wonder how many times he hit his head at the top because he forgot to duck down enough:

But oh my, the view once you get up there:

I was really touched by this depiction of what I think was a Coast Guardsman of the times.  The sign above it read:

You Have to Go Out

“Many years ago, an old keeper of one of the life saving stations along the East Coast was about to launch a surf boat to go to the aid of a ship being wrecked on a nearby reef.

A storm was pounding and the water was wild.  A person watching said to the keeper:

“You’re not going out in a sea like that, are you?

“Yes, I am,” replied the keeper.

“Well, you don’t expect to come back, do you?

“I don’t know anything about coming back,” the keeper answered.

“All I know is that the regulations say you have to go out.  They don’t say anything about coming back.”

Now that’s really “gallows” humor and admirable dedication all at the same time!

 

Old Bailey School

Down a short path next to the lighthouse is the historic Old Bailey School:

This one-room log schoolhouse, made of locally cut Norway Pine, was built in 1907 as a logging camp for the children of the logging crews.

It was moved a couple of times but remained in service until 1941.  In 1998, to avoid further deterioration and vandalism, it was disassembled once again and moved here to Sturgeon Point, and restored to near original condition to become a museum.

There’s an interpreter to answer questions and she pointed out that the majority of the items here were original to the school, such as the recitation bench, blackboard, maps, coat rack and pump.  Its original school bell still sits and rings  atop the building’s roof.

As one of the few remaining one-room schoolhouses still standing in Michigan, it is certainly a reminder of simpler times…

But what I really got a kick out of and learned a lot from the culture here was from a document posted that said it was found here at the school:

 

“Rules for Teachers 1872”

1.  Teachers each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys.

2.  Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day session.

3.  Make your pens carefully, you may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.

4.  Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.

5.  After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the bible or some other good books.

6.  Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.

7.  Every teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.

8.  Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give a good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty.

9.  The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty five cents per week in his pay, providing the board of education approves.”

Wow and double wow!  Are you kidding me???  And we feel for the plight of teachers in our own times!

I just found this whole place and everything I learned here fascinating.  An info sheet handout provided the following first-hand memories (excerpts provided below):

Remembrances From the Last Teacher at Bailey School
by Alexina (Broadwood) Jack, July 21, 2007

“The year was 1938 and I was nineteen years old. I had just completed my year of teacher training…I was offered the job at Bailey School and accepted it, just thrilled to have a job.

“At the highest I believe I had eighteen students from kindergarten through Grade 8. My salary was $100 per month during the school year. My workday began at 8:00 am. You see, I was also the janitor and received an additional $25 per month for that. I had to arrive early to build a fire using wood and coal in order to have the school warm for the students at 9:00 am. My janitorial duties included sweeping and cleaning the school, shoveling snow in winter, washing the blackboard and filling the water pail. We used a dipper for drinking. The water had to be carried from the well out front of the school to fill the pail. Children helped to keep the water containers full and they also took care of putting up the flag on the pole outside.

“Without electricity, the only light for the school interior was the natural light that came from the windows…Cloudy days were particularly dark.

“The older children did help the younger children. Report cards were prepared for each student and had to be taken home for signatures of parents, and returned to me at school.  Children did their work at school and were not assigned homework.

“I went out with my students at every recess and they loved having the teacher join in the games or competitions. My teaching attire was always a dress – women just did not wear slacks at that time. In winter, we built snowmen and forts and there would be snowball fights. No one ever got hurt and all ages joined in. No child was left out of the fun.”

Wow again is all I can say…

My Attempt to Get To Negwegon State Park

So after my history lessons and blasts from the past, I decided to press on and get to Negwegon State Park.  So many people had told me not to miss this – not as a place to camp because it would be too rustic for me and roads certainly not passable for a motorhome, but because it was such a pristine, untouched and peaceful sanctuary on Lake Huron.

So once I turned from the main road onto Sand Hill Trail that leads to the park, there was a sign warning that it was a 3 mile narrow, winding road – a “Seasonal Road – not snowplowed by the Alcona County Road Commission.”  Well alrighty then, but at least I could tell the perfect weather wasn’t going to require snow plowing today anyway.  The park’s website even advises caution because the roads are often so sandy that a four-wheel drive vehicle is needed.  But others had told me that my Escape should do just fine unless the road conditions were exceptionally bad that day.

And it really didn’t start off that bad and everything was so beautifully green and inviting…

Although there were a couple of times I held my breath and sucked in my gut when cars were coming from the other direction because it certainly is a narrow road.  But thankfully both times there was just enough room to scooch over to the side so we could get by each other.

But about 2 miles down the road, I came to the first pothole that made me pause and consider the wisdom of continuing…

But it looked like just enough room to the side to pass this obstacle, so I proceeded until I was within 1/2 mile of the park – almost there…and…

Oh no – no way am I gonna attempt this one!  I could see a few cars pulled off the road onto the sides just before this, so I guess they hiked in.  But I wasn’t brave enough to try that by myself and there was really no more room to park anyway, so…

My sad little Texas car and I had to admit defeat and turn around…

But I have no right to complain with a great park like Harrisville to return to, and the promise of many more adventures to come during the rest of my summer in Pure Michigan!

  • Glenda Alexander

    I love lighthouses.  They give me a special feeling that I can’t describe.  I’ve visited several on the North Carolina, Texas and Pacific Northwest coasts.  The lighthouse keepers must have been rather lonely.  They would have had to be brave, too.

    Sorry you didn’t make it all the way to the Negwegon State Park.  Next time maybe you should take along a horse.  :>)

    • Yep, I know excactly what you mean about lighthouses and that indescribable special feeling they give. That’s why I intend to see as many of them as I can here in MI where they have so many.  A horse, as a toad, huh? Oh well, I’ve seen equestrian campgrounds, so anything’s possible!  😉

  • Karnes 4

    It’s pity you didn’t make it to Negwegon.  It really is beautiful.  My parents have a small place in Black River and we go everytime we’re up there.  I can’t wait to go again in 2 weeks for vacation.  Thanks too for reminding me of the lighthouse, def something we will be going to see again.  I’ve been there before but the school house was never open and the kids haven’t seen it yet.  Nice article thank you!

    • Yeah, I really was disappointed because so many people told me not to miss it. I heard later that I might have made it around from another way, but too late now…I’ve moved on to Hoeft and will be moving on again tomorrow to Straits. Thanks for the comment and the compliment!

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