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.
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.
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