The Pottawatomie Lighthouse, located on Rock Island in Door County, Wisconsin, is one of the oldest and most picturesque lighthouses in the United States. While getting there might be a bit challenging, the effort is handsomely rewarded with one of the most beautiful and striking views in the Lower-48. Perched on a bluff 137 feet above the water, the lighthouse has played a crucial role in the maritime history of the region. It has witnessed everything from the bustling trade of the 19th century to the recreational boating of today. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the Pottawatomie Lighthouse, its history, and its importance to the region. So, pack your bags and join us on a journey to one of the most beautiful and historic lighthouses in the country.
To learn more about all of Door County’s 11 lighthouses, check out our hub post on Door County lighthouses.
Here is what we’ll cover in this blog post:
- Quick Facts about the Pottawatomie Lighthouse
- Getting to the Pottawatomie Lighthouse
- History of the Pottawatomie Lighthouse
- Frequently Asked Questions
Quick Facts about the Pottawatomie Lighthouse
- Built in 1836
- Automated in 1956
- Located on Rock Island
- Wisconsin’s oldest lighthouse
- Open for tours
The Pottawatomie Lighthouse is located on Rock Island State Park.
While worth it, getting to Rock Island requires some advance planning. Most visitors will need to take the Washington Island Ferry from Gills Rock on the Door Peninsula to Detroit Harbor on Washington Island.
From Detroit Harbor on the south side of Washington Island, you will need to travel to Jackson Harbor on the north side. This is about an eight-mile trip. You can walk this distance, and some people do. But, you will probably want some sort of wheels, as you will be traveling on roads. Most people take their cars to Washington Island, but a less expensive option is to leave your car at Gills Rock and take a bicycle to Washington Island.
From Jackson Harbor on Washington Island, you will take Rock Island Ferry to Rock Island. The vessel that makes this passage is a small, passenger-only ferry.
You can take your own boat to Rock Island but exercise much caution. Only the most experienced and well-outfitted boaters should attempt to make this passage, as these waters are extremely treacherous; you will be crossing the infamous Death’s Door. While sea kayakers will be able to pull their vessels up on land, motor boaters will need to pay for mooring on Rock Island, and reservations are not available.
Rock Island State Park is one of the few Wisconsin State Parks for which a vehicle admission sticker is not required, because you can’t drive to Rock Island.
Once on Rock Island, take the Thordarson Loop Trail north to visit the lighthouse.
Rock Island State Park is worth a visit not only to visit the lighthouse, but it also has a beautiful sand beach and a beautiful and historic boathouse, and it boasts one of the most unique camping experiences in the Lower 48.
History of the Pottawatomie Lighthouse
The Pottawatomie Lighthouse, located on Rock Island in Door County, Wisconsin, is one of the most historic landmarks of the region. It is also known as the Rock Island Lighthouse, and is the oldest lighthouse in the state. The lighthouse was built in response to a request from Detroit businessmen who believed that it was essential for navigating the Rock Island Passage, a crucial shipping route on Lake Michigan.
Sitting atop a bluff 137 feet above the water, the Pottawatomie Lighthouse has played a significant role in the maritime history of the region. It was named after the Pottawatomie tribe, who once lived in the area. The original lighthouse was completed in 1837 and was rebuilt in 1858. The current structure is the result of the 1858 rebuild.
The Pottawatomie Lighthouse was automated in 1946, which meant that the lighthouse keeper was no longer necessary to operate the light. In 1986, it was replaced by a steel skeleton tower, which made it possible for the lighthouse to be retired from active service. However, it remains an important part of the maritime history of the region.
In 2004, the Pottawatomie Lighthouse was opened to tours. Visitors can climb to the top of the tower and take in stunning views of the surrounding area. They can also explore the lighthouse keeper’s quarters and learn about the history of the lighthouse and its importance to navigation on Lake Michigan.
In conclusion, the Pottawatomie Lighthouse is a remarkable landmark in Wisconsin and an important part of the maritime history of the region. Its construction was a significant engineering feat, and it played a crucial role in ensuring the safe navigation of the Rock Island Passage. Today, it remains a popular tourist attraction, and visitors can learn about the history of the lighthouse and its importance to the region.
Frequently Asked Questions
The original lighthouse was built in 1836 and rebuilt in 1858. A skeleton tower light was built on the site in 1986, superseding the lighthouse.
Yes, the Pottawatomie Lighthouse is open to the public for tours during the summer months. Visitors can climb the tower and learn about the history of the lighthouse and the surrounding area.
The Pottawatomie Lighthouse was automated in 1946, as advances in technology allowed for safer and more efficient operation without the need for a full-time lighthouse keeper. The lighthouse still functions today as a navigational aid for ships on Lake Michigan.
- The Pottawatomie Lighthouse is one of the oldest and most picturesque lighthouses in the US, located on Rock Island in Door County, Wisconsin.
- It was built in 1836 and automated in 1946.
- The lighthouse is open for tours, and visitors can climb to the top of the tower and explore the lighthouse keeper’s quarters.
- Getting to Rock Island requires taking the Washington Island Ferry and the Rock Island Ferry.
- The Pottawatomie Lighthouse played a significant role in the maritime history of the region by ensuring safe navigation of the Rock Island Passage.
- The lighthouse remains an important part of the maritime history of the region and a popular tourist attraction.