Digest>Archives> April 2003

Lighthouse Heroine is Lost

By Timothy Harrison

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Before Nellie.
Photo by: Michael Warren

The lighthouse community has lost a real life lighthouse savior; a person who led the way to save a lighthouse that many thought could never be saved.

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After Nellie.
Photo by: Chuck Eckenstahler

She was a lady who came out of Ohio to the tiny town of Paradise Michigan to retire and enjoy the good life, a retirement that did not last long when she undertook the saving of the Crisp Point Lighthouse, a lighthouse that at one time we declared the most endangered lighthouse in America.

Nellie Ross was only 61 when she recently passed away. But, to those in the lighthouse community, we will never forget her. We will never forget her refusal to accept the fact that many told her Crisp Point Lighthouse could never be saved.

Under her leadership the Crisp Point Historical Society was formed and Nellie led a battle to raise money and volunteers to save what was left of a once proud monument, that was ready to collapse and grabbed by the grasp of the wild Lake Superior.

It was back in 1965 that the United States Coast Guard, as part of its automation program, destroyed all the buildings at Crisp Point Light Station, except the tower and its entrance building. And in 1993, the lighthouse was decommissioned and its light was removed from the tower.

Under Nellie’s leadership the lighthouse was saved first from the auction block and then from the erosion that threaten to topple the tower. Today, the tower stands as a proud gleaming example of what volunteerism is all about.

It was also stand forever as a monument to Nellie Ross, the lady who saved the Lady of Lake Superior.

Nellie we will miss you. But, through Crisp Point Lighthouse you will always be with us.

This story appeared in the April 2003 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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