There are many hidden treasures to find off the beaten path in northern Michigan. One of them is an islet that was given the name Ile aux Galets, or Isle of Pebbles, by French explorers. Probably because the name was frequently misheard and difficult to pronounce for English speakers, the island became known in time as “Skillagalee”.
The island and gravel shoal surrounding it were a hazard for shipping across Lake Michigan, and numerous shipwrecks occurred. On September 27, 1850, the A.D. Patchin, a 226-foot paddle steamer, became permanently grounded and was eventually pounded to pieces.
The following year, a lighthouse was constructed on the island. But it didn’t last very long. By 1868, it had to be completely rebuilt. It was rebuilt again in 1888, and while the US Coast Guard demolished the keeper’s dwelling, fog signal building, oil storage shed, and boathouse in 1969, the 58-foot octagonal tower remains and still functions, warning passing ships of the danger.
The island is home to a large population of seagulls and cormorants and is only accessible by small boat. Click here to see it on the map.
Here are a few historical photos of the lighthouse, as well as a few shots from one of our own trips to “Skili”. Enjoy!
If you’re ready to come visit northern Michigan, discover more of its hidden treasures, and be enchanted by its history, we can help accommodate you. Give us a call at 231-242-0730 or email us for information about our vacation rentals!