From the Upper Peninsula of Michigan along the South Shore of Lake Superior ~ Station K 8 L O D
International Lighthouse Weekend Special Event Station
Our first event was August 2000.
MQT Harbor, MI
US0027 (ARLHS USA 477)
46 32' 47.55N - 87 22' 34.55W
MQT Harbor Breakwall, MI
US0026 (ARLHS USA 476)
46 32' 01.04N - 87 22' 29.91W
Presque Isle Harbor Breakwall, MI
US0070 (ARLHS USA 1111)
46 34' 26.73N - 87 22' 28.66W
A little history about the Marquette Lighthouse - Throughout the early years the present lighthouse had saw
some reconstruction but, the present light structure has been here since 1866. The first lighthouse was
built only thirteen years prior in 1853 but was in such bad shape that repairs and modifications were
needed. The light tower is constructed of brick being over 9 feet square and 38 feet in height, with
the walls being 13 inches thick at the base. The focal point of the light is 70 feet above the water
The Hiawatha Amateur Radio Association of Marquette County will be operating from the Marquette Lighthouse which is located on the south shore of Lake Superior. Look for W8L on the bands, both phone and cw. An attempt will be made to man the station around the clock if conditions are favorable.
Some of the operating crew from the lighthouse operation
Pete, K8PT the op instrumental in getting this special event on the air
Lighthouse looking to the west
Our vertical to the right of light tower and tribander in the foreground
Two dipoles also run from the top of the light tower but not visable in the photo
Pete, K8PT inspecting one of the antennas prior to getting underway with the 2001 event
May 2001 article about W8L's 2000 lighthouse event.
By B. Peter Treml, K8PT & Bruce Anderson, KG8YT
In March of 2000 I completed my first Dxpedition (MJ/K8PT). It was a wonderful experience and I wanted all
the members of the Hiawatha Amateur Radio Association (my local club) to experience the rush of a different
culture, exotic operating site, and working pileups. I wanted an experience that would hone our operating
skills and excite the newer members and encourage them in HF and CW. How could we accomplish this goal,
though, without the expense and effort of launching our own Dxpedition?
Our answer: International Lighthouse Weekend. As residents living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (we're referred to as Yoopers) we are privileged to live on the shoreline of Lake Superior, the largest, deepest, cleanest and coldest of all the Great Lakes. It also has several lighthouses within driving distance.
I had run across the website of the Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society (http://www.waterw.com/~weidner/arls.htm) and found out that the 2000 International Lighthouse weekend would be August 18th and 19th. It was not a contest but a time to honor the tradition of lighthouses, publicize the role they and the Coast Guard play in promoting safety at sea, and promote interest in ham radio and the preservation in navigational aides. Last year's (1999) International Lighthouse/Lightship weekend had included over 218 lighthouses in 39 countries from around the world, and many more on-the-air participants. In the year 2000 they were hoping to activate 400 lighthouses and lightships. Why couldn't we be one of them?
After talking with several club members who seemed enthusiastic about the idea, I then wrote a letter to the local Coast Guard commander explaining the concept and requesting permission to occupy the lighthouse and operate for the weekend. Two weeks later I got an enthusiastic "yes." We were in business.
A week before the event, several club members and I took a site survey and tour of the lighthouse. The site was a ham's dream. We were surrounded by a scenic expanse of water on three sides, and we had lots of room to put up antennas. We planned our antenna placement and operating set-up and made provisions to bring our own radio equipment, food, water, tables, and chairs.
All of a sudden the big day was upon us. On that Friday afternoon a small crew of us gathered at the lighthouse to set up the antennas and install the radios. We put up a 3 element beam at 15 feet (about 35 above the water) and an R-5 vertical at the top of the light. We also strung out a G5RV and a 135-foot dipole fed with ladder line. Since the club owns two Kenwood TS-570's, we set one up for CW and the other for SSB. We were ready.
At the designated start time we had six club members on hand, who started operating at 4:00 P.M., the designated starting time, and we continued through the night. We worked some contacts at a rapid rate, and for others we answered questions about the lighthouse, our club, and the area. Simply making the maximum number of contacts was not the goal. As dawn rose we got some beautiful photographic shots of the sunrise and of the lighthouse. Since we wanted an attractive picture of the lighthouse for the front of our special "W8L" QSL card, cameras were clicking rapidly for the honor of getting the BEST shot. We continued operating throughout the 48 hours, during which we had about thirty club members participate. Three operators new to H.F. really got hooked, and we almost had to wrench the mics out of their hands for the next shift. All told, we made 1089 contacts. They included 45 states, 53 countries, and 27 lighthouses/ or lightships. We were elated.
Although the Marquette Lighthouse is a fixture in the local landscape, many of the club members had never been in it, even though they had lived in the area for years. For them the tour of the building and light were an added treat. What more could any ham ask for: good band conditions, plentiful DX, and a spectacular vista of sailboats, kayakers, and the sparkling open water of Lake Superior. Ham radio just doesn't get any better.
When the contest was over, twelve members helped to break down. We had everything packed up and the lighthouse cleaned and vacuumed in forty-two minutes. Since we hoped to be able to come back next year, we wanted things looking even better than when we came. After we had taken final pictures and extended a final "thank-you" to the Coast Guard, the weekend of operating was over. All that was left to deal with now was the inevitable deluge of QSL cards to be answered.
Do you have a lighthouse or lightship in your area? If so, consider sharing in the fun of next year's Lighthouse Weekend. This event makes a wonderful club activity and a wonderful weekend. It can hone the operating skills of your members and ignite the enthusiasm of others for ham radio. Give it a try. Ahoy!