Big Bay Point Lighthouse
“Mr. Fred Babcock came to the station 12:30 pm. While hunting in the woods one and a half mile south of the station this noon he found a skeleton of a man hanging to a tree. We went to the place with him and found that the clothing and everything tally with the former keeper of this station who has been missing for seventeen months.”
This is the lighthouse keepers log entry that detailed the finding of the remains of H. William Prior in 1902. Prior was the first lighthouse keeper of Big Bay Point after he had been transferred to the new Big Bay Lighthouse from the light at Stannard Rock in 1896. After having problems with several assistant lighthouse keepers, his son George finally took up the role on 18 January 1900. However, George had an accident, falling on the landing crib steps in April 1901 and died on 13 June 1901. Will Prior was said to be devastated by the death of his son and on 28th June 1901 he went alone into the woods with some strychnine and his gun. It was assumed he had gone out to kill himself and a lengthy search failed to find his body. His wife and children left the lighthouse on 22 October 1901, planning to settle in Marquette. It is rumoured however that the red-headed Will Prior remains at the The Big Bay Point Lighthouse in spirit form.
The Big Bay Point Lighthouse which stands between Marquette and the Keweenaw Portage Entry became an automated light in the 1940’s, when the accommodation was rented out to the local school teacher and her husband.
Between 1951 and 1952 the lighthouse and surrounding land was used by the National Guard and US Army as a base from which to conduct anti aircraft gun training. During this time period one of the soldiers posted to the lighthouse murdered someone at the Lumberjack Tavern in Big Bay, and this crime was later portrayed in the novel and movie: Anatomy of a Murder.
In 1961 the lighthouse was sold into private ownership and underwent several stages of renovation and modernisation. The Big Bay Lighthouse is now a bed & breakfast establishment run by John Gale and Jeff and Linda Gamble.
Apparently a red haired man in a lighthouse keepers uniform has been seen in the grounds, which may have been William Prior. Water has also been heard running in empty rooms and kitchen cupboards have been heard being banged at night.