Ontonagon Pier Light, MI, Photo by Chuck Turk
In 1875, a pier head light was installed at the end of the 750-foot pier marking the entrance to the Ontonagon River, adding another light for Corgan to maintain. The following year, a new swing bridge was built across the river, and Corgan became responsible for its navigational lights as well.
Corgan’s wife Mary readily assisted him by taking over the duties of keeping the main light attached to the keeper’s house so he could tend the other lights and handle his extra responsibilities. Without her help, he would have had a difficult time doing all he had to do.
Keeper Corgan’s journal entry of the first lighting of the 1893 shipping season is unlike normal lightkeeper journals which usually record the weather conditions. Instead, he shares his personal grief about the loss of his wife.
April 22 – Lit up tonight for the first time this season and a sad, sad lighting it was caused by the absence of my dearly beloved and departed wife “who always lit the main light” and who died February 12th, 8 am … I trust and hope that tonight our good Redeemer has transferred and promoted her to attend an eternal light in heaven which may be our constant guide here on earth and when our allotted days are exhausted that we also may find favor in the eyes of God and be allowed to follow its rays into Eternal happiness to again meet to part no more.
“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor” Ecc. 4:9 NIV