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Algoma Pierhead Lighthouse

Oct. 21, 2019
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Algoma Pierhead Lighthouse, near Algoma, Kewaunee County, Wisconsin

ALGOMA PIERHEAD LIGHT (FRONT/REAR)

Location: MOUTH OF THE AHNAPEE RIVER ON LAKE MICHIGAN, WISCONSIN
Station Established: 1893
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1932
Operational? YES
Automated? YES 1973
Deactivated: N/A
Foundation Materials: PIER
Construction Materials: STEEL
Tower Shape: CYLINDRICAL
Markings/Pattern: RED
Relationship to Other Structure: INTEGRAL
Original Lens: FRESNEL

Range: 16 Miles

Characteristic: Red, Isophase 6 sec.

 

HISTORICAL INFORMATION:

  • Ahnapee grew rapidly in the mid to late 1870s and became the home to the largest commercial fishing fleet on Lake Michigan. When the government would not approve a lighthouse to mark the entrance to the harbor, locals erected a couple of post lights at the outer end of the two piers at the harbor entrance.
  • Congress finally appropriated money to build some range lights in 1891 to mark the entrance of the harbor at Ahnapee which was renamed Algoma.
  • The light was built in 1892 after new piers were completed but the light was not lit until the beginning of the 1893 shipping season. The piers were unique in that they were split and off-set. There was not a single continuous pier. To get to the lighthouse a bridge had to be built to span the gap between the off-set portions. The range initially consisted of a front post light and a wooden skeletal tower rear range.
  • In 1895 the rear range tower had an upgrade to the lens. A fifth order lens was installed that increased the range from 9 miles to 11 miles.
  • In 1897 a catwalk was installed making access to the light easier but it did not extend all the way to shore. It was extended to the shore in 1900.
  • In 1908 the wooden rear range had significantly deteriorated and was replaced by a cast-iron tower. This tower replaced the range lights. Also in 1908 a keeper’s house was built along the river.
  • In 1910 a fog signal was added to the station.
  • In 1932 improvements were made to the pier and the lighthouse was raised to increase the visibility of the light. An electric remote controlled fog signal was also installed.
  • The light was automated in 1973.

Researched and written by Anne Puppa, a volunteer through the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.