"Government Light”

1835, 1840, 1847, 1858, 1866, 1867, 1903, 1913, 1955, 1994 & 1996

Kenosha, Wisconsin

A number of years ago I went to do some research on the Southport Lighthouse, so I stopped at the Kenosha History Center & Museum, hoping to gain some knowledge of the area and the lighthouse. As I walk through each of the exhibits, I came across an old Kenosha City Street Map of 1892. The map was mounted in a glass case with other street artifacts. As I reviewed the City Street Map, I came across the following information:

“1892 Lighthouse Drive was named Washington Street; the street ran East & West and Midman Street ran North & South. Lot 32 on the corner of Washington Street & Midman Street showed Lot 31 owned by City Poor, Lot 31 read LGS Mygatt, Lot 30 was which is 2 lots North & on the East Side of the inlet waterway had L.N. DeDeimer Keeper (Gov’s Light). The original Life Saving Station still stands on the West corner of Washington Street (Now Lighthouse Dive) & Midman Street. The original street map showed Lot 11 which was four lots up from the inlet waterway. The Lifesaving Station is still occupied today by the United States Coast Guard. On the South East corner of Washington Street (Now Lighthouse Dive) & Midman Street lots 33 & 34 were owned by LGS (US), I can only surmise these lots were also owned by the United States Lighthouse Service along with lot 31, but that’s just my opinion for now”.

According to historical documentation the initial settlement area where Southport (Government Light) Lighthouse was erected on was original called “Pike Creek”. This area was able to protect vessel from Mother Nature’s nastiest elements. Settlers in the areas soon realized they needed some kind of visual aid for those vessels trying to reach shelter. In 1935 the citizen of Pike Creek erected the first light. The original light consisted of a ten foot high tree stump, a platform of rocks at the top of the stump and a beacon fire that was lit to show the inlet of the creek. After five year (1840) the light was in dire need of improvement. A new structure was built. The structure consisted of a 24 foot high four legged tower capped with a lantern room. This new structure was built a mouth of the creek.

In 1847 the Unites States Lighthouse Services purchased Simmons Island for the sole purpose of constructing the first “Government Light”. The light was completed in 1848 according the historical documentation. The Government Light needs to be upgraded & the original tower structure needed to be replaced. The new structure was outfitted with a new 5th Order Fresnel Lens; however the construction practices were less then acceptable. A decade later the structure had deteriorated to a point that was unacceptable to the United States Lighthouse Service. A new lighthouse structure was built in 1866. 

Here are some of the statistics on this old lighthouse.

Years of Operation: 1835 to Present
Construction Cost: $ 0,000 in 1835 (Structure)
                            $ 0,000 in 1840 (Structure)
                            $ 4,000 in 1847/1848 (Land/Light)
                            $ 0,000 in 1858 (Structure)
                            $ 0,000 in 1866 (Structure)
                            $ 0,000 in 1867 (Keeper’s Quarters)
                            $ 0,000 in 1913 (Removal Lantern Room)
                            $ 0,000 in 1955 (Lighthouse & Grounds Sold to City of Kenosha)
                            $ 0,000 in 1994 (Replace Lantern Room)
                            $ 0,000 in 1996 (Restoration of Lighthouse & Keeper’s Quarters)
Administered by: United States Lighthouse Board from 1848 to 1939
              United States Coast Guard from 1939 to 1955
              City of Kenosha from 1955 to 1989
              Kenosha County Historical Society from 1989 to Present
Lake Michigan Elevation:             feet above sea level
Tower Height: 10 feet from 1835 to 1840
                       24 feet from 1840 to 1848
                         ? feet from 1848 to 1858
                         ? feet from 1858 to 1866
                      52 feet from 1866 to Present
Light Sources: Fire from 1835 to 1848
           Electricity from ? to Present
Lens: Beacon Fire from 1835 to 1848
                      5th Order Fresnel Lens from 1848 to 1866
                      4th Order Fresnel Lens from 1866 to 1994
                      300 Millimeter Tideland Signal Acrylic Lens from 1994 to Present
Lens Manufacturer:
Light Visibility Range: 14 miles
Flashing Sequence: Fixed White Light, with single flash panel from 1866 to 1867
                             Fixed White Light, varied by flashes every 90 seconds from 1867 to Present
Light Activation by:
Light Focal Plane: 74 feet above the lake
Decommissioned: 1906
Automated: 1994

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