Frozen Lighthouses of Lake Michigan

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Environmental and landscape photographer Tom Gill has been documenting the natural and man made wonders of the southeastern portion of Lake Michigan, particularly lighthouses, for several years. During winter these lighthouses become barely recognizable as spectacular frozen ice formations turn them into incredible sculptural forms.

Gill’s favorite lighthouse is the 35-foot St. Joseph that was first built in 1844. The lighthouse would often receive a thick layer of ice during winter storms when freezing waves up to 6 meters tall crash into the piers. The air temperature drops 20 degrees below zero.

The outer light is over 100 feet from the inner light, and there is only about a two or three foot wide path between the lighthouse and the frigid lake. In winter, that path is often very slippery.


“This year, many people ventured to the outer light, but not many dared go around to the windward side of the outer light. While I've seen hundreds of photos from the shore and the pier, I've only come across a couple of photographers who braved it and ventured out around the tower - me, my son Chris and another person who posted his image on Flickr”, says the photographer.













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