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Milwaukee Breakwater Light

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (2008)

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Milwaukee Lighthouse

Milwaukee Breakwater Light

in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

A four mile concrete breakwater protects Milwaukee harbor and the mouth of its river from cruel and punishing storms that form on Lake Michigan and slam against the shoreline. Ships accessing the protective waters of the harbor sail through a small aperture marked by the imposing silhouette of the Milwaukee Breakwater Light.

The light came into service in 1926 and it continues to serve as a navigational aid today. While the steel frame structure remains much as it was before, notable operational changes have taken place over the preceding decades. Originally people manned the station, assuring that lights and fog signals retained their proper duration and frequency. Automation took over in 1966 and the lightkeepers returned to shore permanently. The 53-foot tower originally housed a French-made 4th order Fresnel lens composed of cut glass and illuminated by an acetylene lamp. That was replaced by a utilitarian but technologically advanced plastic lens in 1991. The beautifully intricate antique lens can now be found at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc, part of the historic lighthouse lenses display found in its Riverside Gallery. It is on permanent loan courtesy of the United States Coast Guard.

The Milwaukee Breakwater Light is set right within a major metropolitan area in eyesight of thousands of people every day, but it can be viewed closely only by boat. It cannot be approached by land and in even if it could the Coast Guard does not allow public access. So the photograph above was taken from the grounds of Milwaukee's Discovery World science museum with a telephoto lens. That's about the best I could do on this lighthouse sighting.

Readers who have an interest in lighthouses might also want to check my Lighthouse Index