Posted/Updated by Bryan Penberthy on 2007-12-02.
This lighthouse, paired with the Baileys Harbor Rear Range Lighthouse, formed the Baileys Harbor Range Lights. These two lighthouses worked together to safely guide mariners into harbor.
The keeper lived onsite in the rear range light, which was one thousand feet north of the front range light. The rear range light was a one-and-a-half story structure with a cupola on the southern end of the roof. It housed a fifth order Fresnel lens and displayed a fixed white light.
The front range light was nothing more than an eight by eight box standing twelve feet tall with a small window in the front and back. Both windows displayed a fixed red light. The lake side was for mariners use, while the northern facing window allowed the keeper in the rear range to ensure the light did not go out. When range lights are in use, a mariner can tell that they are on track when the two lights appear to be on top of one another, white on top and red on bottom. If they appear any other way, then the mariner is off track and could be in danger.
The range lighthouses first put into use in 1870, used lard or whale oil as fuel. In 1880, it was changed over to kerosene, then to acetylene gas in 1923, and finally to electricity in 1930. Automation came to the lighthouse during the 1923 conversion to acetylene gas. Automation reduced the need for an onsite keeper. The Cana Island keeper was now responsible for monthly maintenance as well as any emergencies that might arise at the range lights.
In 1969, the range lights were retired from use and replaced by a single pole mounted directional light. The lights are still standing in an area that is known as The Ridges Sanctuary.
Partial list of keepers:
- Fabian Trudell (1869 - 1872)
- Joseph Harris Jr. (1875-1881)
- Henry Gattie (1896-1923) Transferred to Two Rivers Lighthouse in 1923.
- Wisconsin Lighthouses: A Photographic & Historical Guide, Ken & Barb Wardius, 2003.
- Lighthouses of Lake Michigan: Past and Present, Wayne S. Sapulski, 2001.
- Great Lakes Lighthouses Encyclopedia, Larry & Patricia Wright, 2011.
Directions: The lighthouse sits on the side of Ridges Road just off Highway 57 in Baileys Harbor. The rear range lighthouse sits directly behind the front range.
Access: Grounds open. Tower closed.
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