The Loneliest Place in The World

The life of a lighthouse keeper is always lonely, but for 60 years those who served the Stannard Rock Lighthouse, it was extraordinarily so. Known as “the loneliest place in the world,” the Stannard Rock Lighthouse is located in the northern half of Lake Superior, off Keweenaw Peninsula. The nearest land, Manitou Island, is situated about 25 miles to the northwest, making it the most distant lighthouse in the United States, perhaps the world. The reef on which the lighthouse stands today was discovered in 1835 by Captain Charles C. Stannard, who was alarmed to find this underwater mountain so far from shore in waters thought to be free of hazards. It took five long and difficult years to build the lighthouse, with completion and lighting occurring in 1882. The lighthouse stands 78 feet tall and has seven levels from the kitchen on the bottom to the lens room on top. Keepers were not allowed to have wives, which increased homesickness. They spent their time playing cribbage and ate whatever came out of a can. To combat isolation, the men were rotated off the rock every three weeks. Louis Wilks, the lighthouse keeper from 1936 to 1956 spent a record 99 consecutive days on the rock — a feat no other keepers were able to even approach. The solitude was so crushing that many keepers threatened to swim to shore if a boat didn’t come and get them. In 1962, the lighthouse was automated and closed. Today it remains closed to the public and can only be viewed from a boat or plane.