Cana Island Lighthouse

On a peninsula between Moonlight Bay and North Bay, northeast of Baileys Harbor, stands Cana Island Lighthouse. It is one of Door County’s most photographed and visited lighthouses, and it closely resembles the classic image of a lighthouse with its majestic white tower attached to a brick keeper’s dwelling. This post will tell you everything you need to know about the Cana Island Lighthouse.

Here is what we will cover:

This post is part of a series on the lighthouses of Door County. Make sure to check our central hub post on Door County lighthouses to learn more about the other ten of Door County’s eleven lighthouses.

Cana Island Lighthouse, consisiting of a yellow brick keeper's dwelling and a white tower. Superimposed text says, "Cana Island Lighthouse."

Quick Facts about the Cana Island Lighthouse

  • One of Door County’s most popular attractions
  • Amazing views from the top
  • Built in 1869
  • Brick tower encased in steel in 1902
  • Automated in 1944
  • Still an operational navigational aid under the authority of the Coast Guard
  • Open for tours

Visiting the Cana Island Lighthouse

If you visit Door County, WI, be sure to check out the Cana Island Lighthouse. Admission prices are $12 for adults, $10 for youths aged 5-17, and free for children aged 4 and under, provided they meet the height and age restrictions for climbing the tower. Children must be at least 5 years old and 42 inches tall. Active military members and their families (up to five members) and museum members can also visit for free.

The Cana Island Lighthouse is a must-see destination in Door County, standing tall for 150 years and overlooking Lake Michigan. Visitors can take a hay-wagon over the causeway to explore the island and its many features, including the 89-foot-tall light tower, oil storage house, and lighthouse keeper’s home. But the real highlight of the visit is the climb up the tower’s spiral staircase, which spans 97 steps and offers a magnificent panoramic view of Lake Michigan and the Door County peninsula.

The Cana Island Lighthouse is open seasonally from May to October, seven days a week, with hours from 10am to 5pm. The last haywagon ride departs from the parking lot at 4:15pm, and the last tower climb begins at 4:30pm, so make sure to plan accordingly!

For more information, contact the Door County Maritime Museum, which operates the Cana Island Lighthouse: 920-743-5958,

Cana Island Lighthouse History

Cana Island Lighthouse, located in Door County, Wisconsin, has a rich history dating back to the late 1800s. The lighthouse was built to replace the Old Baileys Harbor “Bird Cage” Lighthouse, which had been in operation since 1852 but was deemed insufficient in providing adequate coverage to passing ships.

Cana Island, where the lighthouse is situated, spans an impressive nine acres in size. In 1868, Congress approved the abandonment of the Baileys Harbor “Bird Cage” Lighthouse and the construction of the Cana Island Lighthouse, which was completed the following year in 1869.

The Cana Island Lighthouse stands at a towering height of 82 feet above the level of the lake and features a third-order Fresnel lens, which was a cutting-edge technology during its construction. The tower’s exterior was originally made of cream city brick, which is a yellowish cream-colored brick common in the Milwaukee area.

However, in 1902, the brickwork started to deteriorate due to harsh weather conditions, and the lighthouse was encased in steel plates as a solution to prevent further damage. Despite this, many visitors do not realize that the tower is still constructed of cream city brick to this day.

The lighthouse was fully automated in 1944. It remains a navigational aid to this day, guiding mariners in the treacherous waters of Lake Michigan.

In 2008, the Cana Island Lighthouse was opened to visitors, allowing them to climb to the top of the tower and enjoy breathtaking views of Lake Michigan. Today, the lighthouse stands as a testament to the ingenuity of 19th-century engineers and serves as an important landmark for maritime history enthusiasts and tourists alike.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does anyone live on Cana Island Wisconsin?

No, Cana Island in Door County, Wisconsin, is currently uninhabited. While it was once the residence of lighthouse keepers and served as someone’s summer home for a period, it is now solely used as a historic landmark and tourist attraction.

Who owns Cana Island in Door County, Wisconsin?

Cana Island, located in Door County, Wisconsin, is owned by Door County, but the lighthouse tours and restoration are overseen by the Door County Maritime Museum. The museum ensures that the historical significance of the lighthouse is preserved and that visitors can enjoy a unique experience exploring this iconic landmark.

How high is the Cana Island Lighthouse?

The Cana Island Lighthouse stands at a height of approximately 85 feet above the waters of Lake Michigan. However, this measurement can vary due to changes in the water level of the lake, which can fluctuate from year to year.