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Lighthouses of Door County, Wisconsin
One Trip-Seven Lights
Door County is on a peninsula that juts out of the northeastern section of Wisconsin. One hot sticky August in St. Louis we decided to escape the heat and headed north. When we entered Door Country we were met with pleasant temperatures, some wonderful country scenes, and to my delight several lighthouses on the Lake Michigan coast.
Our first encounter started the very first night when we stopped in the small town of Port Washington and found they had two lighthouses and continued all the way up into Door County where we discovered the Plum Island lighthouse while we were on a ferry ride to Washington Island.
Along the way we explored both coasts of Door County and I was able to photograph a total of seven lighthouses during our week long stay. This lens will give you some information and photos on each of these lighthouses and will include links for you to find more information. Enjoy your reading!
Photographs by Mary Beth Granger
the lighthouse and the pierhead light still stand today
Port Washington was a wonderful small town that we stayed in on our way to Door County. I was really excited to find that they had two lights.
The old lighthouse up on the hill and a newer one in the Port. Both were very interesting.The lighthouse on the hill was originally built in 1849 and was used until the early 1900's.
The first pierhead lighthouse was built in 1889 and the current pierhead was automated in 1924. It is very different from other lighthouses I had visited. It is an art-deco design as you can see in the photo in to the right. It has a long pier that you can use to walk right up to the lighthouse and it seemed like there were always people around the lighthouse. I got up at sunrise to try to get a clear photo and there were already people fishing off the pier right at the lighthouse. I really enjoyed photographing this unique lighthouse.
As we continued on our journey to Door County we stopped at another small town, Algoma, Wisconsin. In Algoma we found a pierhead lighthouse located at the entrance to the Ahnapee River. It appeared smaller than the one in Port Washington and the Algoma Pierhead light was painted a bright red. The sun was a bit bright for a good photo but you can get the idea at the photo to the right. There are more photos in the link later in this lens.
Learn about these Historic Beacons
Enjoy reading these books to find additional information on Door County lighthouses. I always like to read about the places I will visit before my trip. I think it really adds to my appreciation of the lighthouses when I know the stories behind them.
This is a comprehensive guidebook of Wisconsin lighthouses.
Here you will find information specific to Door County lights.
In Sturgeon Bay we found a bright red square looking pierheadlight that marked the entrance to the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal. It has an elevated catwalk on the pier that links it to the shore. This light was originally constructed in 1881.
My visit to the Cana Island lighthouse was one of the highlights of my visit to Door County. This lighthouse is just north of Baileys Harbor and sits on an Island. You can reach the Island by walking over a rock path that stretches between the mainland and the Island. When reaching the lighthouse I discovered a charming historic lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1869 and consisted of a 42 foot tower and an adjoining keepers house. In 1902 the original cream brick tower was encased in steel to protect in from the weather. Today you can visit the lighthouse and climb the historic tower.
I found the lighthouse at Eagle Bluff to be a charming historic lighthouse. It was built in 1868. The lighthouse can be found in Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek, WI. It has a red brick keepers house with a square looking light tower attached. The light is still in operation today guiding vessels through the narrow Strawberry channel.
I had read that there were a set of range lights on the west shore in Bailey's Harbor but I was unsure where they were located. During a hike in the Ridges Sanctuary I came across both of the lights. The rear range light consists of a keepers dwelling and the rear light. You can see the photo I took of it to the right. The front range light was constructed 900 feet away toward the shore. I found both of these very different than any I had seen before. These lights were established in 1870. The lights were automated in 1930 and from then until they were discontinued in the 1960's the lights were cared for by Lutheran ministers, who used the keepers dwelling as a parsonage.
Plum Island Light
On our ferry ride to Washington Island I was able to photograph the lighthouse on Plum Island. It consists of a white tower and a separate keepers house. Plum Island is located off the northern tip of the Door Peninsula.
This is not the best photo because I was taking it from a distance on a moving boat, but I do think it gives you an idea of the light station. I would think that it would be rather lonesome working at this remote light station.
Take a high level tour of Door County!
This video gives you an unique view of Door County.