Sheboygan Breakwater Lighthouse

Sheboygan, Wisconsin - 1915 (1873**)

Photo of the Sheboygan Breakwater Lighthouse.

History of the Sheboygan Breakwater Lighthouse

Posted/Updated by Bryan Penberthy on 2007-09-13.

Several lighthouses have marked the Sheboygan Harbor, with the earliest being built in 1840. The North Point Lighthouse, a two-story wooden house with a tower built on the roof, was located on the north side of the harbor. The first keeper, Stephen Woolverton, was paid a yearly salary of $365. This tower would serve for 20 years until its replacement in 1860. Given its location on a bluff, it really didn't help mariners safely enter the harbor and many accidental groundings occurred.

U.S. Coast Guard Archive Photo of the Sheboygan Pierhead Lighthouse Sheboygan Lighthouse (Courtesy C.G.)

Harbor improvements were made in 1873, which included adding a stone filled north and south timber pier to protect the harbor from the wind and the waves of Lake Michigan. With the completion of the north pier, a square wooden lighthouse was built at the end to mark it. It burned to the ground on March 17, 1880. A new tower was quickly constructed and ready on June 20. With the replacement tower came an elevated catwalk to provide safe passage to the shore, and a fog signal building, which was located behind the tower.

From some of the documentation that I found, it appears that there were pretty much on-going harbor improvements taking place. Between 1881 and 1882, two hundred and thirty two feet were added to the south pier. Between 1885 and 1897 with a break during 1894, there was more work on the two piers. Then in 1900, the north breakwater was constructed. With that, a new "pagoda style" lighthouse was built to mark the north end of it.

Between 1903 and 1904, the north pier was extended 120 feet, and the south pier was extended 600 feet. With the extension of the north pier, a new cast-iron conical tower was constructed to mark the end of the north pier in 1905. This led to the removal of the 1873 wooden tower. While searching the web, I have come across some pictures showing the new North Pierhead and the pagoda light. You can view them here and here. Also at this point, due to diminished importance, the North Point Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1904.

In 1915, the north breakwater was extended. A lighthouse was needed to mark the new end of the breakwater. Since the north pier was of diminished importance, it was decided to move the 1905 cast-iron tower over to the breakwater. On June 23, 1915, the pagoda light was decommissioned, and in August of that same year, the cast-iron tower was moved to mark the North Breakwater.

The tower underwent some modernization in the 1950s which led to the removal of the lantern room and the third order Fresnel lens. Lighting the harbor today is a modern plastic optic. Also adorning the top of the tower is a multitude of weather monitoring equipment. The tower is still an active aid to navigation and is therefore closed to the public.


  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 I-43, take Highway 23 to North 5th Street. Follow North 5th Street south one block to Ontario Ave. Take Ontario Ave east two blocks to Broughton Drive. Head south on Broughton Drive to the Deland Park entrance. From here you can get pictures of the lighthouse.

Access: Grounds open. Tower closed.

View more Sheboygan Breakwater Lighthouse pictures
Tower Information
Tower Height: 50.00'
Focal Plane: 55'
Active Aid to Navigation: Yes
*Latitude: 43.74900 N
*Longitude: -87.69200 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.