Driving through Lakeville in Addison Township, you can’t help but notice this thing.
It’s 17 feet tall, has a red-and-white color scheme and resembles a giant fishing bobber. But that’s not what it is.
It’s actually a piece of Michigan maritime history that was once used to let approaching vessels know there was safe water ahead.
Today, it’s a lamppost and unique piece of yard art at 1540 Rochester Rd., the home of Brian Zuehlk.
“I’d been looking for a landmark for quite a few years for the top of that hill (on my property),” he said.
He found it last year – a safe water mark, or buoy, that used to sit in either Lake Erie or Lake St. Clair. Its job was to let vessels exiting the Detroit River know they were entering water that was open and deep. Zuehlk believes his buoy “most likely” came from the Lake Erie side.
“I bought it off a guy on Craig’s List,” Zuehlk said. “His (father) bought it at a Detroit City auction back in the ‘60s. It (had) already (been) decommissioned back then.”
He was told it spent many years sitting in a pond on a farm, where kids would climb to the top, “get it rocking like crazy,” then jump off.
Zuehlk paid $250 for the buoy and spent last winter restoring it. It required a little bit of structural repair and was in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint.
“It was in pretty rough shape when I got it,” he said.
He hired a tow truck from the Orion-based Buckhorn Towing to help set it up a few weeks ago.
“I’m pretty happy with it,” Zuehlk said. “It turned out pretty good.”
The light at the top of the buoy isn’t original to it. It’s actually an old streetlight from Pontiac.
“That was another Craig’s List find,” Zuehlk said.
Unlike some pieces of yard art, there’s no danger of this one being stolen in the middle of the night.
“It weighs about 4,000 pounds,” Zuehlk said. “It’s a steel shell, wrapped in fiber glass, filled with concrete.”
The base alone has a 6-foot diameter.
According to Zuehlk, he’s received some positive feedback from folks who have seen it while traveling along Rochester Rd.
A lady at the bank told him, “I love that thing. Me and my husband had to stop and take pictures.”
“Somebody told me, ‘You just put Lakeville on the map,’” he added.
Having a buoy in his front yard reflects Zuehlk’s passion for the water and boating. Not only does he live across from Lakeville Lake, he keeps a boat at the Detroit Yacht Club and spends a lot of time cruising the Detroit River.
“If I’m not on a boat, I’m usually thinking about boats or looking at new boats,” he said.