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Shedding Light on Milwaukee’s Lighthouses
August 17, 2018
Kayaking in Milwaukee: Shedding Light on Milwaukee’s Lighthouses
The Great Lakes and Milwaukee River have played pivotal roles in the formation and growth of Milwaukee as a community and a city. As such, boats and barges have long – utilized the city’s waterways and access to Lake Michigan for a multitude of uses. While we now have the luxury of GPS and Satellite maps to help us find our way on the water, things were not always so simple. Lighthouses were (and still are) crucial in aiding in the navigation of incoming and outgoing ships and also warning of foul weather. Several of these lighthouses still stand and function today.
The Milwaukee Breakwater Light is located in the harbor of Milwaukee, near the middle of the 4-mile Milwaukee Breakwater. Since being deemed “excess property” by the city in 2011, non-profit Optima-Enrichment and the Friends of the Milwaukee Breakwater Lighthouse have owned the lighthouse and plan to open it for public exploration. The light and boater-activated foghorn were converted to solar power in 2008.
The Milwaukee North Pierhead Light, established in 1872, is an active lighthouse in the Milwaukee Harbor. It is west of the Milwaukee Breakwater Light, and is near the outflow of the Milwaukee River. You may recognize it by it’s red color, matching the color of light it reflects 7 nautical miles out into the harbor. A submarine cable runs from this light to the Milwaukee Breakwater Light, upon which a red-lighted warning is displayed when severe weather is expected.
The North Point Light is a lighthouse located on Lake Drive on Milwaukee’s East Side. This 74 ft. tall lighthouse was constructed in 1855 to replace the Cream City Lighthouse, which was located too close to the eroding bluffs of the Milwaukee shoreline. The lighthouse’s lens, installed in 1868, focuses a 1,300,000 candlepower signal visible for 25 miles . The tower underwent restoration in 2005 and is now open to the public.
These lighthouses are a wonderful part of the rich history surrounding Milwaukee and the Great Lakes. Without them, the harbor of Milwaukee and the city itself would not be the gem it is today. Come by Brew City Kayak to check out these historical structures the way they were meant to be seen–from the water!
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