Ile Aux Galets

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Ile aux Galets or Gallets, and also known as Skillagallee or Skillagalee Island, is located in northeast Lake Michigan approximately 7 miles (11 km) northwest of Cross Village, Michigan. The Emmet County, Michigan Ile Aux Galets Light sits atop and warns of a dangerous gravel shoal—it extends almost 2 miles (3.2 km) to the east and half a mile to the northwest[1]—that is an imminent hazard to navigation, ships and sailors.[2] This site has been the continuous operating home of a U.S. government lighthouse since 1850.[citation needed]


The islet is home to a significant colony of ring-billed gulls. Its name, given by early French explorers, means "Isle of Pebbles."[3] It is said that the English speakers found the French name unpronounceable, and "Ile aux Galets"—soon misheard, misunderstood and mispronounced—transmuted into "Skillagalee" (or some variant) which took hold. By the "mid 1800's references to the original French name all but disappeared."[4]

There are many wrecks near Skillagalee island. However, on September 27, 1850, the loss of the A.D. Patchin—a wood sidewheeler, 226 feet (69 m) long and built in Trenton, Michigan in 1846—led to the construction of the first light on the island. Loaded with general goods, the Patchin's course into Grays Reef Passage was disrupted by currents that pulled her onto Skillagalee's shore. Her crew escaped and was rescued, but foul winds and weather thwarted many attempts to set her free. She was "pounded to pieces, becoming yet another of Lake Michigan's many victims."[2]