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Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Algoma Light and Finding the IAT Terminus in Sturgeon Bay

On my way to Door County yesterday afternoon I took the scenic route along Hwy 42 through Algoma instead of I-43 through Green Bay.  I'm glad I did because I got a chance to see the Algoma lighthouse after its recent renovation.  It was kind of hard for Katrina and I to see it last year since it was hiding under the world's largest sheet!

Remember when I mentioned the Great Peshtigo Fire recently?  It swept down this far south and the residents waited beside boats with their belongings, but torrential rains arrived just in time to douse the fire so Algoma was spared.

Caspian Terns take to the air

The current red, steel light has been in Algoma since 1932.  In May 2014, Algoma Pierhead Lighthouse, deemed excess by the Coast Guard, was made available under the guidelines of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act “to eligible entities defined as Federal Agencies, state and local agencies, non-profit corporations, educational agencies, or community development organizations, for education, park, recreation, cultural, or historic preservation purposes.” In preparation for disposal of the lighthouse, the Coast Guard hired contractors at a cost of nearly $200,000 to replace the tower's foundation and windows and paint the lighthouse and attached catwalk.  The City of Algoma heard from the National Park Service in early 2015 that it was the sole applicant for the lighthouse and will likely be awarded the property.

From Algoma it's a short drive to Sturgeon Bay and I was setting up my campsite in Potawatomi State Park by 7:00.  I reserved Thursday and Friday night online, but wasn't worried when I decided to head up a day early.  Schools are just getting ready to let out and "the season" doesn't really start here for another week or two.  There were lots of open sites and one of them was the one I had reserved so I only had to set up once.

site 98 from Shoreline Road behind it

My site is a little closer to the main road than I thought it looked on the map, but my choices for a last minute Friday night weren't many so what are you gonna do?  Site 104 looks awesome, if I get the opportunity to snag that one in the future I certainly will!

I didn't have much time to look around as dark was just around the corner but on the short drive up to the observation tower I noticed Columbine, Baneberry and even Yellow Lady Slipper all growing right behind my site next to the road.

A few steep spots if you elect to use the trail up the bluff, but not bad

When I was here last year I walked the IAT from the campground to where it crosses Shoreline Road and starts ascending the 150 foot Government Bluff, so this time I just drove to the top and parked near the 75 foot tower.

My legs were a little shaky when I finally reached the top of the tower, but the view was definitely worth it!  Just hang on to your hat, it's windy up there!  There's a great view of the limestone quarries across the bay, by 1898 there were 4 of them, and the quarried stone was carried to ports around Lake Michigan to build piers and breakwaters.

After climbing back down I followed the yellow blazes into the woods and down the bluff to the road, then used Norway Road to get back up again so I could admire the exposed limestone.

Once back at the top I looked around for something that would indicate I was at the Eastern Terminus of the IAT but couldn't find anything.  A spur trail marked with a blue blaze went in to the woods and it was a continuation of the IAT even though it didn't have the yellow blazes.  At the end was the sign I was looking for, and a large parking lot too.

I still hadn't eaten dinner and even though it was 8:00 after huffing down and then up the bluff briskly to beat dark I was getting hungry!  Can you believe I warmed up a leftover turkey burger and some rice at the gas station?  A lovely lady there let me do it, and I bought a Rice Crispie treat for dessert for their use of the microwave.  A salesclerk at Target let me in on the secret of where to get fabulous baked goods in Sturgeon Bay so I knew where I was getting breakfast!


  1. Nice lighthouse! Glad it was fixed up and someone will be taking care of it.

  2. That's the strangest story about the lighthouse. If I'm reading it right, they fixed it up to get rid of it? Our government in action. But I'm glad it worked out and looks much better than in my picture from last year. I was okay with the faded paint, but the outhouse kind of wrecked my picture.