There is a certain romance about lighthouses.
The Wind Point lighthouse captures that romance. Thinking of a lighthouse brings to mind an image of the keeper sounding a horn on a foggy night to warn a ship in danger. Perhaps the image of a keeper rowing out to a rocky island where he alone guards ships from a deadly nighttime peril. The tall white tower of the Wind Point lighthouse and the picturesque keeper’s quarters sure seem like they would fit into the lore.
The Wind Point lighthouse is one of the largest and oldest lighthouses on the Great Lakes.
It was built in 1880. The tower is 108 feet tall. When built, the lighthouse used oil and had a Fresnel lens 5 feet tall and 3 feet in diameter. The Fresnel lens made a beam of 12 “spokes.” It was rotated once every six minutes by a cuckoo clock – like mechanism that created a flash every 30 seconds. Each lighthouse had its own flash pattern so ships could identify the Wind Point light as the 30 second light and navigate using it. The beam was visible in clear weather to the horizon – 19 miles. In 1924 it was converted from mineral oil to electricity using a 300 watt. In 1964, the Coast Guard automated the lighthouse and replaced the Fresnel lens with a 1000 watt light with a parabolic reflector which is what is still used today.
The fog horns at Wind Point were last sounded for ships in 1964.
Three different buildings have been used for the fog horns and all three are still on the grounds. One has been moved to a different place on the property. I wonder what it was like to be near them when they sounded. They could be heard from up to 10 miles away. The last building used as a fog horn house has been turned into a museum.
It was not as lonely as a keeper at Wind Point as you would think.
There were three keepers. They also had their families with them. In fact, maybe it was a bit crowded. Today, the keeper’s quarters are now the Village Hall for Wind Point and the Wind Point Police keep an office in one section. Next to the lighthouse, there is a golf course (you could really have fun if the fog horn still worked).
I always wanted to visit a lighthouse but thought they were all too far away.
Many of the lighthouses you see don’t really look like a lighthouse should. I was a bit shocked to find out that there was such a beautiful one so close to Milwaukee. To be honest, not only did I not know there was a lighthouse, I did not know there was a village called Wind Point. The Wind Point lighthouse is definitely worth a trip to see. The grounds have been turned into a park. The “Friends of the Wind Point Lighthouse” have worked to restore (with help) the lighthouse and keep the ground beautiful. The lighthouse itself is closed to the public except on special days. Check the lighthouse website if you are interested in climbing all the way to the top.
A little story about the photograph of the lighthouse in the fog.
As you can see, it was a very foggy night. I have no idea what we were doing that night but I had my camera in the car. On a whim, somehow I found the lighthouse in the fog. It was an impressive sight. At night, there is not only the beam from the lighthouse, but floodlights all around the lighthouse. Still, it was very foggy and once you got away from the lights, it was very dark. My mistake when I took the foggy photograph was leaving my poor wife sitting alone in the car far too long (it always seems like it is just a minute or two but it really takes some time to do night photography). She also did not realize that she was parked in front of a police station. It was dark. It was foggy. I had disappeared into the dark and she had no idea where. I don’t think she has forgiven me yet. So guys, don’t leave your better half all alone at the lighthouse.
You won’t need a boat to get to the lighthouse.
4 Mile Road runs right from the I-94 Frontage Road. You can take it east all the way to Lighthouse Road. It’s just a few minutes from the south boarder of Milwaukee County if you take Highway 32 south.