Two Rivers Lighthouse

Two Rivers, Wisconsin - 1886 (1886**)

Photo of the Two Rivers Lighthouse.

History of the Two Rivers Lighthouse

Posted/Updated by Bryan Penberthy on 2011-03-05.

The area got its name from the East and West Twin Rivers that meeting before merging and exiting into Lake Michigan. Like many communities on the shore of Lake Michigan in the 1800s, the area was well known for its timber trade and commercial fishing industries. Around 1850, a pier was constructed by the H.H. Smith Company, and some years later, Isaac Taylor and Company of Racine built another pier, both private companies. These piers would be used for over two decades until the government surveyors came to the area on July 23, 1870.

U.S. Coast Guard Archive Photo of the Two Rivers Lighthouse Two Rivers Lighthouse (Courtesy Coast Guard)

D.C. Houston, Major of Engineers for the U.S. Army wrote a memo dated December 12, 1871 to Brigadier General A.A. Humphreys in Washington D.C. recommending construction of a harbor at Two Rivers despite the heavy cost ($265,588) associated with reaching deep water. In this report, he cited the map and the survey of the land from the July 23, 1870 visit.

Construction of the piers started in 1872 with the first 968 feet of the south pier. This took nearly two years to complete. Then extensive work started on lengthening the south pier as well as construction of a 750 foot long north pier. Due to the high cost, this work was conducted over several years, being completed around 1883.

Construction of the pierhead light to mark the entrance to the newly created harbor was finished in 1886. The lighthouse was like many of the other 1800s pierhead lights, a wooden structure, pyramidal in shape, with a lower open framework, connected to an elevated catwalk to provide safe passage back to shore. The tower, utilizing a sixth order Fresnel lens, displayed a fixed red light 36 feet above the lake marking the entrance to the harbor.

The tower never had a keeper stationed at it. The keepers of the nearby Rawley Point Lighthouse were also responsible for keeping the Two Rivers Lighthouse, which was about five miles to the south. Due to the lack of a regular keeper and significant storm damage in 1928, the tower was rebuilt later that year and supplied with electricity.

The tower was decommissioned in 1969 after being replaced with a non-descript steel skeletal tower. The Coast Guard donated the upper half of the tower to the Rogers Street Fishing Village Museum, which was relocated in 1975. During this move, the sixth order Fresnel lens was dropped resulting in significant damage. It was put into storage until 2006, at which time the museum had received a grant to get the lens repaired. The work was carried out by The Lighthouse Lamp Shop based in Florida. Joe Cocking, a retired Chief Warrant Officer from the Coast Guard handled the restoration. The lens was put on display in the museum August 7, 2009.


  1. Great Lakes Lighthouses Encyclopedia, Larry & Patricia Wright, 2011.
  2. Wisconsin Lighthouses: A Photographic & Historical Guide, Ken & Barb Wardius, 2003.
  3. Lighthouses of Lake Michigan: Past and Present, Wayne S. Sapulski, 2001.
  4. Lighthouses of the Great Lakes: Your Ultimate Guide to the Region's Historic Lighthouses, Todd R. Berger and Daniel E. Dempster, 2002.

Directions: From the Town of Two Rivers, take Highway 42 (22nd Street) to Jackson Street. The lighthouse is at the Rogers Street Fishing Village, which is as the corner of Jackson Street and 22nd Street. For more information, visit

Access: Grounds open. Tower open in season.

View more Two Rivers Lighthouse pictures
Tower Information
Tower Height: 36.00'
Focal Plane: Unknown
Active Aid to Navigation: Deactivated (1969)
*Latitude: 44.15300 N
*Longitude: -87.56300 W
See this lighthouse on Google Maps.


* Please note that all GPS coordinates are approximated and are meant to put you in the vicinity of the lighthouse, not for navigation purposes.

** This year denotes a station date. This is the year that a lighthouse was first reported in the vicinity or at that location.

All photographs and information on this site is copyright © 2016 Bryan Penberthy unless otherwise specified. No content may be used without written permission. Any questions or comments, please email me.