|New LaPointe Light station||Seeing The Light|
Since this new light would be located over a mile from the northwestern tip of Long Island, it was simultaneously proposed that a small light and fog bell be constructed on Chequamegon Point at the northwestern tip of the island to aid vessels rounding the point before heading south into Chequamegon bay for Ashland. Congress was slow to respond to the Board's request, and thus the plea was reiterated in each of the Board's annual reports for the following four years, until Congress finally responded with the requested appropriation on March 2, 1895.
On receipt of the appropriation, Eleventh District Inspector, Commander William W. Mead began negotiations for the purchase of two parcels of land on the island. One for the new main light some 3,000 feet to the east of the 1859 structure, and 30 feet from the 1891 fog signal building, and the other at Chequamegon Point for the construction of the small tower and fog bell. However, with the letting of contracts for the fabrication and delivery of the iron work for both new structures, it quickly became clear the $10,000 appropriation was insufficient for the task, and an additional $1,500 appropriation was requested.
Since with the construction of the new lights the LaPointe keepers would be responsible for two lights and a fog signal, it was determined that a full-time assistant keeper would need to be assigned to the station to keep up with the workload, and additional living quarters would need to added. To keep costs within the limits of the appropriation, Eleventh District Engineer, Major Milton B. Adams drew up plans to modify the existing LaPointe lighthouse into a duplex dwelling, since with the the old structure would no longer serve any purpose with the completion of the new lights. To this end, in the summer of 1896 the old LaPointe lighthouse was jacked-up, and a brick basement constructed beneath, and the interior of the structure reconfigured to accommodate two keepers. Amazingly, the light atop the roof was kept in operation throughout the entire reconstruction, and thus the expense of building a temporary tower was avoided.
That same season, concrete foundation piers for the new sixty-foot cast-iron tower were poured near the fog signal building, and erection of the tower began. The new tower was built as an 8 foot diameter cast iron central stairway cylinder with four tubular support legs braced between the ground and the watchroom deck. These four legs were in turn braced by horizontal tubular iron cross members diagonally braced with iron bars equipped with and turnbuckles to maintain rigidity of the structure. The central cylinder itself was made up of individual cast iron segments with flanges on each side, with each side flange bolted to the adjacent segments. With insufficient funds to continue paying the work crew, the worksite was abandoned after erection to the level of the watchroom galley floor.
Congress finally appropriated the additional $1,500 on July 14, 1897, and the AMARANTH returned to Long Island with a work crew soon thereafter, and work on the island assumed a feverish pace throughout the 1897 season of navigation. With the Chequamegon Point tower brought to completion first, the fixed red Fourth Order lens was removed from the old LaPointe Light and reinstalled in the new beacon on the night of October 11, 1897 without any change in characteristic.
No longer serving any purpose, both the tower and lantern were removed from the old 1859 lighthouse, and the opening in the roof boarded-over and re-shingled. Sewers from both side of the dwelling were laid to the lake shore and a drive well was sunk to the east of the dwelling to provide drinking water to sides of the duplex. The boat house was moved from the south side of the island to the north side where deeper waster was available, two cribs were constructed for the boat landing, and a concrete walk was laid from the new boat house to the modified dwelling. A workshop which had formerly been attached to the dwelling was removed and converted into a woodshed.
The crew then turned their attention back to completing the the installation of the circular watchroom and lantern on the main LaPointe light. On completion, the entire structure was given a coat of white paint with the exception of the lantern, which was painted black to help the station serve as a more effective daymark. The lantern was outfitted with a new fixed white Fourth Order Fresnel lens, which by virtue of the tower's location on elevated ground provided the lens with a focal plane of 70 feet and a distance of visibility of 16 miles.
In 1902, the landing dock was extended through the addition of a 13 by 24 foot crib some 20 feet in front of the old dock to which it was connected by a wood bridge. The crib in which the water supply intake for the fog signal was located was also rebuilt to prevent the frequent silting-up experienced with the old intake.
April 18, 1925 saw the electrification of the station with the installation of a diesel engine-powered generator. With electrification, the 10-inch steam whistles were removed and replaced with a pair of air-powered Type T diaphone fog signals powered by electrically driven compressors. Concurrent with the installation of these new diaphones, the characteristic of the fog signal was modified to a repeated 30-second cycle consisting of 3-second blasts followed by 27 seconds of silence. Three years later in 1928, a radio beacon was installed at LaPointe, transmitting a characteristic 3-minute cycle of 4-dash groups for 60-seconds followed by 120 seconds of silence during thick weather, and the Fourth Order lens in the main tower was electrified through the installation of a 9,000 candlepower incandescent electric lamp. With electrification, the characteristic of the light was also changed to flashing white, with a 2-second flash followed by 3 seconds of darkness. A small automatic acetylene-powered winter light was also installed on the gallery, to be left in operation during the winter months when the keepers closed the station for the season and departed for the mainland.
By the 1930's, it was realized that the modified keepers dwelling located almost a mile from the main LaPointe Light was inconveniently located and no longer served as adequate housing for the Keeper and two assistants assigned to the station. However, with the country in the grips of the Great Depression, the funds for such works were understandably hard to come by. In 1938 as part of the series of Works Progress Administration projects being undertaken across the nation, a work crew arrived on the island and built a large modern three-family dwelling close to the LaPointe Light and fog signal, permitting a more efficient grouping of the structures constituting the station. No longer serving any purpose, everything of value was removed from the old keepers dwelling and the old 1859 building was abandoned. Without maintenance, the structure quickly deteriorated, with the upper floors caving in, eventually leaving only parts of the brick basement walls erected in 1897 standing as witness to the fact that a building of historical significance ever stood on the spot.
Both the Chequamegon and LaPointe Lights were fully automated in 1964, and the final crew of Coast Guardsmen to man the station departed, leaving the maintenance of the structures to the crew at the Devils Island Light which remained manned to serve all of the Apostle Islands lights until 1978.
Although the formation of the Apostles Island National Lakeshore on September 26, 1970 assured the long-term survival of the remaining Apostle Islands lighthouses, Long Island was not included as part of the National Lakeshore until 1986, when the Park boundaries were expanded to include Long Island and Congress passed legislation transferring all lands within the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Park boundaries over to the NPS, and in a single stroke of the pen all of the Coast Guard properties within the park were simultaneously moved into NPS ownership.
Since Long Island was the last of the
Apostle to be added to the National Lakeshore, little has been done to
the LaPointe station beyond basic stabilization. However, the National
Park has plans to begin restoration of both structures, and it is hoped
that they will be maintained for future generations to enjoy long into
the next century.
Apostle Island Cruise Services may be contacted at the following address:
P.O. Box 691 - City
For information on the Keeper
Of The Light Celebration, contact: