October 3, 2011
Fall was traditionally "shipwreck season" on the Great Lakes. One hundred years ago, surfmen of the U.S. Life-Saving Service (LSS) set out each night to hike the shoreline in search of ships in distress. The public is invited to relive history and join park rangers to recreate a traditional evening beach patrol. Dress for the weather and meet at the Sleeping Bear Point Life-Saving Service Station/Maritime Museum in Glen Haven at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 8 and/or October 15.
Before radio communications were used at sea, ships could not call for help. Spotting a vessel in distress from the shore was the only way rescue crews knew that their assistance was needed. The beach patrol was one essential part of an LSS surfman's duties. Following a more in-depth explanation of the patrol process and some local shipwreck stories told from inside the station, the public will accompany National Park Service rangers for a lantern-lit hike along the beach. There are always a few surprises along the way and everyone should carry a flashlight for safety. Wind and rain will only make the patrol more authentic, so be ready for any weather!
Unlike the original surfmen, hikers may turn back at any time during the one-hour, one mile roundtrip beach walk and return to the Maritime Museum. There, they will be welcomed by a volunteer and find shelter, warmth and a chance to see how the Life-Saving Service surfmen once lived in the restored crew's quarters. The entire program lasts about two hours.
For more information, please call the National Lakeshore at 231-326-5134 or visit their website at www.nps.gov/slbe. Also, check out their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sbdnl.