A little known lighthouse located at Lake Superior's Wisconsin's Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
will soon be saved, thanks to the efforts of the National Park Service.
Built in 1896, the Chequamegon Point Lighthouse has deteriorated badly over the years from a combination
of effects. The lighthouse, located on Long Island,
was acquired by the National Park Service in 1986 and
is the closest island to the neighboring towns of Ashland
In June 1987, the 42-foot high iron and wooden tower was in danger of toppling into the water. The Coast Guard, apparently unaware that the ownership of the lighthouse had been transferred to the National Park Service, decided to relocate the historic tower about 100 feet east. They attached cables to the four corners of the catwalk surrounding the lantern room of the tower. The tower was then unbolted from its base and a helicopter lifted the tower into the air, only to find that the tower was heavier than expected.
As the helicopter struggled to keep the tower airborne several feet off the ground, the cast iron corners of the catwalk to which the cables were attached, snapped off. The tower dropped to the ground. Although the tower landed upright, it was not level and was not on any type of foundation. It was then replaced by an ugly D9 cylindrical tower, which stands next to it. Ever since then, for the past 19 years, the original tower has been sitting in a state of damage and disrepair.
Since the tower poses an attractive hazard to visitors
who come upon it, the Apostle Island National Lakeshore applied for money to restore this unique structure which is still unknown to many lighthouse aficionados.
The tower will be stabilized at its present location because the original footings are now under two feet of water. The work needs to be done in a specific order to assure that the work is correctly done. The first step will be to install temporary stable cribbing and bracing around the base of the tower. The tower will then be raised one leg at a time, under which a new cement footing will be poured. After the cement is cured, the leg will be securely attached to the foundation setting. This will be done until each leg rests on its new foundation.
Then, they will repair the cast iron flooring on the catwalk around the lantern room. The lantern room floor was cast in eight squares. Four of these broke off when the helicopter raised the heavy tower. The four cast iron sections will be recast, following and using the original
U.S. Lighthouse Service drawings that still exist for this specific purpose. They will then be installed. A temporary crane or hoist of some type needs to be used to reinstall each of the four sections on the lantern room.
Then, the final restoration will take place with a new gallery railing around the exterior of the lantern room, installing new glass, repairing and installing new wainscoting and of course, painting the structure.
The Chequamegon Point Lighthouse never had a keeper living at it. Instead, it was maintained and lighted by the lighthouse keeper at nearby LaPointe Lighthouse, also on Long Island, until it was automated in 1964. Cruises
during the annual Apostle Islands Lighthouse Celebration, held each September, offer an excellent time to view
This story appeared in the
March 2006 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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