The 11 Lighthouses of Door County

Known as “the Cape Cod of the Midwest”, Door County is a long finger of harbors, inlets, bays and offshore islands that is pointing into Lake Michigan and touching Green Bay on one side. Its extensive shoreline is peppered with lighthouses, many of them built following the Civil War, as part of the federal government’s endeavor to make the Great Lakes safer to navigate.

Today, these eleven light stations continue to encircle Door County, and we shall shed some light on each of them here.

Northern Door County lighthouses

Old Baileys Harbor Lighthouse

This lighthouse can be found on an island near Baileys Harbor. Built in 1852, it features a distinctive bird cage lantern room, but was removed from service when the Baileys Harbor Range Lights were built in 1869.

Baileys Harbor Range Lights

Located near Baileys Harbor, the range lights were active for 100 years since it was built in 1869, and were automated in 1923. They were replaced with a directional light on top of a tower on the shore in 1969 but were restored in 1993.

Cana Island Lighthouse

This might be the most photographed Door County lighthouse. It is located on the north end of Baileys Harbor off Cana Island Road, and was also built in 1869 and automated in 1944. To access the island, you would need to walk across a stone causeway. The Door County Maritime Museum and Lighthouse Preservation Society operates this lighthouse as a museum.

Eagle Bluff Lighthouse

Located in Peninsula State Park, the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse is easily accessible. It was built in 1868 and was automated in 1926.

Sturgeon Bay Area lighthouses

spiral staircase of lighthouse's interior

Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Light

It was built in 1899 on the northern bank of the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal entrance, and was automated in 1972. The lighthouse grounds are only open to the public on Lighthouse Walk, often held in the second week of June.

Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal North Pierhead Light

It is a red lighthouse located at the U.S. Coast Guard station at the Sturgeon Bay ship canal’s Lake Michigan end. The Pierhead navigation light was established in 1882, and the station and its tower light were built 17 years later. It was automated in 1972.

Sherwood Point Lighthouse

Considered to be one of the last manned lighthouse on the Great Lakes, it was built in 1883 and automated 100 years later. Like the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Light, it only opens to the public for the Lighthouse Walk.

Island Lighthouses

Pottawatomie Lighthouse

Built in 1836, it is the first lighthouse ever built in Door County and is located north of Rock Island State Park. It was rebuilt in 1858 and automated 98 years later, although it is no longer active today.

Plum Island Lighthouse

Located between Door County’s tip and Washington Island, the Plum Island Range Lights guide sailors through “Death’s Door”. It was built in 1895 and was automated in 1969.

Pilot Island Lighthouse

Ship captains complained that the Plum Island Lighthouse was too far west, so President Buchanan ordered the construction of the Pilot Island Lighthouse in 1858 and was built of Cream City brick. It was automated in 1962 and is now owned by the Coast Guard.

Chambers Island Lighthouse

Built in 1868 and automated in 1961, this lighthouse is seated on the northwest corner of Chambers Island and is only accessible by boat.
These lighthouses are celebrated in the area, and you will easily find cozy lodgings in Door County that are close to any of them. All of them have guided and some even continue to guide sailors traversing the Great Lakes. Whether you are a mariner or a landlubber, a Door County local or a tourist, you will surely appreciate each of these landmarks that are gleaming with rich history.

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