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near the piers of today’s Blue Water Bridge, said Fletcher. Shoddy construction and a fierce September gale wore down the tower, leading to its collapse in November 1828. By 1850, the U.S. Lighthouse Board was launched, boosting quality throughout the country as shown in the Fort Gratiot Light’s addition. “Because the 1862 brick has a different absorption rate and is able to handle the elements better, we found the upper brick in perfect condition,” said Friske. SAVING A TREASURE A walk into the tower interior is a walk through layers of construction history. Walking on brick pavers worn by the footsteps of generations of lighthouse keepers, Fletcher leads the way through a dimly lit 1862 storage room and connecting passage leading to the lighthouse interior. Milwaukee Cream City brick blankets the interior, including the interior cylinder of the actual tower. The cylinder was inserted in 1862 to support the cast iron staircase coiling its way for a full 91 steps up the conical tower to the lantern room. This cylinder is composed of two layers of brick, followed by a two-foot airspace between the cylinder and actual tower, said Fletcher. An interior opening in the tower base for a ventilation louver offers a glimpse of the original brick in this stout masonry load-bearing tower. “The original tower is constructed of about 14 to 16 wythes of brick,” said Fletcher. “Looking at the vent, you can see the depth and the structural fortitude of the tower that has enabled it to withstand the strong prevailing winds at this spot.” Taking shelter within the tower, Fletcher explains the steps needed to stabilize the lighthouse. National Restoration first “removed the outer two wythes of brick, all the way around and all the way up the 65foot-tall portion of the tower,” said Fletcher. “We found pockets where there had been actual water intrusion. Some of our repairs in those areas were 16 to 18 inches deep.” Ultimately, National Restoration laid 1,500 salvaged original brick and 30,000 carefully selected replacement brick. “Selecting a brick that wasn’t too hard was a delicate balancing act,” said Fletcher. “Belden Brick Sales Co. worked very hard with us to find a good matching brick with the right hardness. If the brick is too hard and there is any movement in the tower, the new brick will shear off from the old, resulting in structural problems.” Added Friske, “The outer skin would actually separate from the tower. We also went with a brick that resists the elements better, so that if the new Visit us online at www.cammagazineonline.com

CAM MAGAZINE

JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2012

79

January February CAM Magazine 2012  

IN THIS ISSUE: A Letter to the Membership from the President of CAM; On the Jobsite: Knowledge is Power at Expanded Manufacturing Facility C...

January February CAM Magazine 2012  

IN THIS ISSUE: A Letter to the Membership from the President of CAM; On the Jobsite: Knowledge is Power at Expanded Manufacturing Facility C...

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