Interesting Facts About Wind Point Lighthouse

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The Wind Point Lighthouse is one of the oldest and tallest still operating on Lake Michigan.

The Lighthouse was built in 1880 and was designed by Orlando Metcalfe Poe who had served in the Civil War as a Brigadier General. After the war, he served as engineer secretary of the Lighthouse Board and was in charge of lighthouse construction.

It was lit for the first time on November 15, 1880.

The Fog Horn Building shows the original design with the huge fog horns aimed toward the Lake. The fog signals could be heard 10 miles out into Lake Michigan.

The Fresnel Lens created the distinctive flashing light using dozens of glass prisms to bend and focus the light which made for an immensely powerful light. The original lens can be seen in the old Coast Guard Keepers Quarters.

A mechanism of weights, cables and pulleys rotated the enormous Fresnel Lens to create the flashing that navigators on the Lake recognized.

Fuel for the light had to be carried up the 144 iron steps and the Keeper or his Assistants had to make that climb daily. About 270 gallons were used in 1881.

The Keeper or his Assistants had to clean the Lens every day so that it sparkled.

There were 7 Head Keepers and more than 30 Assistant Keepers of the Wind Point Lighthouse from 1880 – 1964 when the light was automated.

In 1997, the U.S. Coast Guard transferred the Lighthouse to the Village of Wind Point, requiring the Village to maintain it as a historic site and landmark, but kept the responsibility of the light itself. The Village of Wind Point is responsible for the care of the Lighthouse and the grounds surrounding it.

The Friends of the Wind Point Lighthouse, a 501c3 non-profit organization, was formed in 1999 with a mission to educate the public about the history of this local treasure.

Resources: Images of America: Wind Point Lighthouse by Barb and Ken Wardius
Wisconsin Lighthouses, A Photographic and Historical Guide by Barb and Ken Wardius