Once closed, the vandals arrived. The interior of the house was severely damaged, letting in drifts of snow. The sea wall collapsed soon after, endangering the tower.
A few people thought these accumulating events were a tragic ending to a significant and valuable asset to the community. In 1987, thirteen people formed the Big Sable Point Lighthouse Keepers Association and began the first of many restoration projects over many years, including the repair of the steel sea wall to save the tower.
In the hands of a few people who care, Big Sable is now listed on the state and national registers of historic places, and is maintained entirely by volunteers. After commenting on the fantastic opportunity it must be to live and work at the lighthouse, I was invited to apply to be a lighthouse keeper. In fact, people from all over can apply to be a keeper, and reside on the upper level of the keeper's quarters for two weeks. I was given information to begin the application process, and it is something I hope to be able to do. There is no fee to be a resident keeper. Contributions of time, effort and passion for the history and preservation of the lighthouse is now the fuel that keeps the light alive and shining.
The keeper's quarters once were home to three families and their children. It's not easy to convey the feeling of refreshment that one experiences upon arrival. Because of the remote location, I deeply felt the sense of time standing still. Keepers are allowed to drive to the site by car, but visitors must walk or bike the 1.5 mile sand road. Without the sound of traffic, I immediately felt a sense of peace. Perhaps it was once a place where the keepers and their families felt lonely, cut off from the rest of the world. Perhaps they felt liberated and free. I'm guessing that it was a mixture of both. My reentry into the land of traffic and noise has not been as pleasant or exciting as it once was, after living for years in the northern woods. Ten years ago I was excited to be in a place that was busy all the time.
Being at the lighthouse reminded me that I need both places to satisfy my soul. I need equal measures of community and solitude, no matter the conflicts that this brings to my life.