CANA ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE
Explore Door County’s most iconic lighthouse, celebrating 150 years of standing watch on the shore of Lake Michigan. Step inside the Keepers’ House where, beginning in 1869, the first of a number of lighthouse keepers tended to the light that guided sailors and protected them from the dangerous shoals extending into Lake Michigan.
Take a look in the Oil House, where fuel for the light was stored prior to days when electricity came to the island. Ride a haywagon across the rock causeway from the Door County mainland to the island. The buildings and grounds have been maintained by the Door County Maritime Museum for nearly 30 years while the United State Coast Guard continues to oversee the tower with its stunning third order Fresnel lens and light. The island was conveyed to the County of Door on May 18, 2007. The lighthouse is located north of Baileys Harbor off County Highway Q.
A Brief History of Cana Island Lighthouse
In 1869, Congress appropriated funds to build a lighthouse on 8.7 acre Cana Island between Moonlight Bay and North Bay. When completed, the cream colored Milwaukee Brick tower was the tallest brick structure in the county. The focal plane of the lighthouse’s lens is 82’ above the level of the lake.
A five-room keeper’s house was on the first floor, and three rooms for the assistant keeper were provided on the second floor. Storms sometimes raged to the point of flooding through the keeper’s house. Harsh conditions eventually caused the tower to be clad in steel plates; it was subsequently painted white.
The Coast Guard absorbed the Lighthouse Bureau in 1934. Electricity also came to Cana Island in 1934, and the light was automated in 1944. The last civilian keeper, Ross Wright, served until 1941 when the Coast Guard took over at the beginning of World War II.
Following County Highway Q will take you to Cana Island. For a fee, you may tour the lighthouse, and even climb the tower. The highlight of any Cana Island visit is climbing the 97 steps of the tower’s spiral staircase to reach the gallery deck, which delivers a sweeping view of Lake Michigan and the Door County peninsula. The Door County Maritime Museum, in order to preserve a part of Door County’s maritime history, leased the site from the Federal Government in the 1970s. They have created a museum site together with park-like grounds and a gift shop.
A Word About Getting There
Please know that the lighthouse is located at the end of a narrow, rustic road that transits a residential area. Please obey all posted speed limits, watch for children and pets, and be courteous to our Cana Island neighbors. Please remember to drive slowly and cautiously as you leave the Island, as well.
- Lighthouse Staff reserves right to restrict size of group and limit time allotted at top
- Tower may close without notice due to weather and/or other safety issues
- Pregnant women and people with claustrophobia are not encouraged to climb
- Parents may not carry young children
- Must be 42″ tall to climb
- Open-toed shoes strongly discouraged
- Last tower climb of day will be at 4:30PM
Directions: Drive north on Hwy 57 from Baileys Harbor Visitor Center. Take a RIGHT on Cty Q and travel 3.6 miles to Cana Island Road. Turn RIGHT at stop sign. The rest of the journey is clearly marked. The total distance is about 6 miles.
GPS Coordinates: 8800 East Cana Island Rd, Baileys Harbor
Door County Maritime Museum & Cana Island Lighthouse
Ride a haywagon across the rustic stone causeway to take in the beauty of this remote island and its majestic lighthouse. Take a step back in time to 1869 when the lighthouse was first opened. The tower is open to climb from May to October from 10am-5pm through the Door County Maritime Museum. No Handicap Access.
8800 Cana Island Rd