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Point Beach State Forest Rawley Point Lighthouse

A major feature of Point Beach is Rawley Point and the lighthouse operated by the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard has operated a lighthouse here since 1853.

lighthouse
Rawley Point Lighthouse at Sunrise.
DNR Photo by Princely Nesadurai

The first lighthouse was a brick tower and home that served mariners until 1894, when a new steel tower was installed.

The light is atop this steel tower which rises 113 feet above the lake surface and is one of the largest and brightest on the Great Lakes. It is visible up to 19 miles away and operates from one half hour before sunset until one half hour after sunrise.

The old brick light tower was cut down, roofed and became a part of the keeper's house. These structures, framed by evergreens and a blue sky, have become a scenic attraction in Wisconsin.

Before the new lighthouse was built, 26 ships foundered or stranded on the point. They included 20 schooners, a barge, two steamers and three brigs. The most tragic sinking in the point's unpleasant history occurred in 1887, when the steamship Vernon went down in heavy seas. One of the largest, steamers on the lakes at the time, the Vernon took 36 crew members and passengers to their deaths. The sinking remains a mystery.

Since the lighthouse went into operation, however, the tragedies have come to an end.

The lighthouse may be viewed and photographed from the beach. Tours normally are not available.

Last revised: Friday October 17 2014