Wind Point Lighthouse

Wind Point, Wisconsin - 1880 (1880**)

Photo of the Wind Point Lighthouse.
 
 
   

History of the Wind Point Lighthouse

Posted/Updated by Bryan Penberthy on 2007-11-04.

Wind Point is an area of land about three and one-half miles north of Racine Harbor that sticks out into Lake Michigan. For mariners approaching Racine Harbor from the north, this point blocked the view of Racine Light. History says that many mariners used a very tall windblown tree as a day mark, which was of little use at night. This was one factor that led to a creation of a light at Wind Point. The other factors were several small shoals and the Racine Reef that is a couple of miles offshore.

U.S. Coast Guard Archive Photo Wind Point Archive Photo

To help mariners navigate this tricky area, construction of the Wind Point Lighthouse was started in 1877, and completed in November of 1880. Due to the wind and the weather, the keeper's house was attached to the tower via a covered walkway. The dwelling was enlarged and segmented to create three apartments in 1899. This would provide housing for the head keeper and his two assistants and their families.

This station was unique due to a double beacon that would shine from the lantern room. The main light, came from a third order Fresnel lens illuminated by a three-wicked kerosene lamp. This was a flashing white light visible nineteen miles out into the lake. The second beacon, which was red, came from a smaller fifth order Fresnel lens was displayed from a window in the tower. This light was displayed in such a way that only shipping traffic from the south east could see it to warn them of the dangerous Racine Reef. A locomotive head light would replace the fifth order lens in 1897, and would be discontinued when the Racine Reef Light was lit in 1906.

In 1900, the station received an steam-powered fog signal. Sound was provided by two brass fog horns pointing towards the lake and could be heard from ten miles out.

Electricity came to the site in 1924, making it the second lighthouse on the Great Lakes to be electrified. In 1964, the lighthouse received many upgrades and was automated. The third order Fresnel lens was replaced by a DCB-24 airport-style beacon, and then replaced again in 2007 by a VRB-25 optic. Also in 1964, the fog signal was discontinued in favor of ship radar.

Today, the original keeper's dwelling serves as the Village of Wind Point's village hall and police station, while the Coast Guard still maintains the light as an active aid to navigation. The original third order Fresnel lens is proudly displayed in the village hall. The tower is open for climbing the first Sunday of the month between June and October. Check the windpointlighthouse.org website for updated information.

Reference:

  1. Great Lakes Lighthouses Encyclopedia, Larry & Patricia Wright, 2011.
  2. Western Great Lakes Lighthouses, Bruce Roberts and Ray Jones, 1996.
  3. Wisconsin Lighthouses: A Photographic & Historical Guide, Ken & Barb Wardius, 2003.
  4. Lighthouses of Lake Michigan: Past and Present, Wayne S. Sapulski, 2001.
  5. Lighthouses of the Great Lakes: Your Ultimate Guide to the Region's Historic Lighthouses, Todd R. Berger and Daniel E. Dempster, 2002.
  6. Friends of the Wind Point Lighthouse website.

Directions: From Highway 32 / County Road G, take 4 Mile Road (County Road G) east towards the lake. Follow 4 Mile Road to the end, then make a right onto Lighthouse Drive. Once on Lighthouse Drive, follow it for several hundred yards to Village Hall Drive. Make a left onto Village Hall Drive, and follow it to the parking area at the lighthouse.

Access: Grounds open. Tower open during tours.

View more Wind Point Lighthouse pictures
Tower Information
Tower Height: 108.00'
Focal Plane: 111'
Active Aid to Navigation: Yes
*Latitude: 42.781 N
*Longitude: -87.758 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.