Grassy Island Range Lights
 

A pair of pyramidal wooden towers that formerly served to aid vessels into the mouth of the Fox River at Green Bay, Wisconsin, the lights are now located at the Green Bay Yacht Club.

Beginning as early as 1838, commercial maritime people began to lobby for a light on Grassy Island which lay across the mouth of the Fox River off of the small village of Green Bay. It was not until a 200-foot wide channel had been dredged through Grassy Island in 1871 that a set of ranges were finally approved. Construction on the lights was completed in 1872, and the lights were officially exhibited on November 15, 1872.

The shingle sided structures were located on a timber pier, 676 feet apart, on the east side on the new channel. The rear light was 40-feet tall and had an octagonal cast iron lantern that housed a white Sixth Order Fresnel lens. The light was visible for up to 13 miles in clear weather.

The front light, located at the north end, was a duplicate of the rear light, but only 30-feet tall. Its focal plane of 30 feet gave it a visibility of 11 miles in clear weather.

A two story keepers dwelling was erected approximately 100 feet to the north of the Upper Light, and with the construction of a boathouse, privy and woodshed, construction of the station was completed in October, and Joseph B. Wing appointed as the stationís first keeper. Plans for the station were approved by

Over the years, a number of changes were made to the station in order keep up with raising water levels and the increasing size of commercial vessels. The wooden structures also required continuous maintenance and repairs.

In 1934, the lights were automated with acetylene lights with automatic sun valves in both towers. With this change, the characteristic of both lights were also changed, with the Rear Light changed to fixed green with a visibility range of 10 miles, and the Front Light to a single green flash every 5 seconds. With the sun valve automatically turning the lights on at dusk and off at sunrise, the full time attention of a keeper was no longer necessary,

As dredging continued over the years the channel thru the island was widened, and the introduction of modern navigational aids caused the range lights to be no longer needed. By 1966, the decision was made to destroy the station in place and widen the channel thru what was left of Grassy Island.

Members of he Green Bay Yacht Club arranged for the two light towers to be relocated to the parking lot of the club which sits at the mouth of the Fox River. In 1999, the towers were moved to piers on either side of the clubs entrance . The light were restored over a period of years and were re-lighted and dedicated at a public ceremony on November 5, 2005.

Reference Sources:

Pepper, Terry. "Seeing the Light: Lighthouses on the western Great Lakes".

Sapulski, Wayne S., (2001) Lighthouses of Lake Michigan: Past and Present (Paperback) (Fowlerville: Wilderness Adventure Books) ISBN 0923568476; ISBN 978-0923568474.

Lighthouse Friends at www.lighthousefriends.com/

 

Click on image to enlarge

2010 Photograph by Jim Lindholm

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Location: Green Bay Yacht Club
Date Built: 1872
Active: No

Open to
public:

Grounds and lights on private property.

In Green Bay, take I-43 west to Webster Avenue. Turn right at the first stop sign, and then left on Bay Beach Road. Follow Bay Beach Road to it's end at the Fox River, and turn left into the Municipal boat launch parking lot. The lights will be seen a few hundred feet upriver, immediately north of the Coast Guard Station.