Green Bay Harbor Entrance Light Seeing The Light

Off the entrance to the Fox River, Green Bay Home Back

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Historical Information

The shipping channel approaching the Fox River in Green Bay changed a number of times over the years in order to accommodate vessels of increasing draft, and with the Army Corps of Engineers again modifying the channel in the mid 1920’s, it was necessary to mark a turning point in the channel as it bent from the man approach to the dredged channel through Grassy Island and the river mouth beyond. To mark this point until funds could be arranged for a more permanent Solution, the Bureau of Lighthouses established the Green Bay Harbor Entrance buoy in 1927. Consisting of an acetylene buoy and wave activated bell, the buoy emitted a flash of 0.3 seconds duration every 3 seconds.

Federal funds for more substantial structures at the Harbor Entrance and to replace the aging Peshtigo Reef light ship were finally allocated in 1934 and work began immediately on drawing-up plans and specifications for the pair of virtually identical structures.

Construction on the Green Bay Harbor Entrance Light began in the spring of 1935 with the fabrication of a fifty foot diameter caisson on shore in Green Bay. Fabricated of steel sheets covering internal timber support frames, the structure was towed out to the selected location on June 5, 1935 and sunk in place through the addition of crushed stone into the center of the caisson. Following standard crib light construction, wooden forms were then erected atop the caisson and the base pier cast of concrete within these forms. While casting this pier, a large circular room was cast within, with circular openings into which maritime portholes were fitted to provide light into the center of the pier. Because the lighthouse was powered by a submarine cable from shore, the equipment room served as home to electrically powered air compressors for the station’s diaphragm horn and a backup generator.

Atop this pier, the lighthouse itself was designed in cylindrical form, containing living quarters for the tow man crew who would man the station. Centered atop this main structure, a cylindrical tower was erected and capped with a lantern with helical astragals to ensure uninterrupted horizontal light emission. Outfitted with an electrically-powered Fourth Order Fresnel optic, the light stood 72 feet above the water, emitted 6,000 candlepower and was visible for a distance of 16 miles in clear weather conditions.

Work on the station was completed with the installation of a radiobeacon antenna atop the lantern, which emitted the station characteristic “dash dot dash” signature at a frequency of 314 kilocycles.

The light was automated in 1979, and is one of the few on the Great Lakes still to be powered by submarine cable. While the light is now issued from a pair of 300mm Tideland Signal ML300 acrylic optics mounted on the gallery railing, the Fresnel lens can still be seen within the lantern, and will doubtless be removed in the near future.

Keepers of this Light

Click Here to see a complete listing of all Green Bay Harbor Entrance Light keepers compiled by Phyllis L. Tag of Great Lakes Lighthouse Research.

Seeing this Light

Since this light is out in Green Bay too far to be seen well from shore, the only way to get a decent view of this light is by private or charte boat.

GPS Coordinates:  44°39'10.35"N x  87°54'4.02"W

Reference Sources

Oshkosh Daily News, November 12 1935
Annual reports of the Lake Carriers Association, 1936
Reports of the Department of Commerce, varios
Appleton Post Crescent, January 21, 1959
Youngstown Vindicator, December 14, 1977

Copyright Terry Pepper. This page last modified 09-30-2012. 

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