A violent thunderstorm struck Escanaba on July 9, 1906. A lightning bolt struck the lighthouse and produced tremendous damage. But three members of the keeperâ??s family, home at the time, were uninjured. Their escape from harm was truly miraculous when one considers what the bolt did to the structure and its contents.
Every window on the first and second floors was broken, and interior doors were cracked off their hinges. A pantry full of dishes was thrown from the shelves and broken. All the silverware was touched by the current and turned a deep brown. An organ, stored on the second floor, was demolished. Nails, heated by electricity from the bolt, were ejected from the walls and burned holes in the carpets. Tools in a chest were â??converted into powerful magnets and the temper removed,â?? rendering them useless.
Outside, brick walls were cracked in many places. Inside, the bolt bored twenty holes into interior walls ranging in size from small punctures to gaping hollows a foot in diameter.
None of the occupants even felt a shock from the lightning strike, but all were badly frightened. Despite the damage, operation of the lighthouse was uninterrupted.
There are a number of stories of lightning bolts striking houses with devastating impact during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Upper Michigan. Could it be that a number of factors conspired to make homes so lightning prone? For one thing, much of the U.P. was clear cut of the forests at that time. Homes were the tallest objects around. Another factor might have been poor or lack of grounding. Possibly our modern electrical wiring in homes provides an adequate ground that prevents, for the most part, the devastating lightning strikes of days past.