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Starting as a volunteer operation in 1854, the station was taken over by the newly-formed U.S. Lifesaving Service in 1874. It became part of the U.S. Coast Guard in 1915 and operated until 1938, when it was sold to the Manitou Island Association. For many years the buildings were used for employee housing and general operation of an island hunting preserve. The National Park Service acquired the land in 1984, and today it is part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. For approximately ninety years the North Manitou Island Lifesaving Station was a key element in the network of nearly 200 rescue stations developed by the federal government. This network provided humanitarian aid to shipwreck victims. The North Manitou Island Station is the only remaining station that represents the entire lifesaving service history from the volunteer era through the Coast Guard era. Because this station saw no interruption in service, the station buildings retain a high level of integrity of design, material and workmanship.
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