Lighthouses of the United States: Iowa

The U.S. state of Iowa is in the center of the country on the west bank of the Mississippi River, north of Missouri and south of Minnesota. Navigable waterways in Iowa include the Mississippi River on the east and the Missouri River on the state's southwestern border. The Coast Guard maintains aids to navigation on the two rivers, but as far as I know none of them meet the Directory's definition of a lighthouse. All the lighthouses listed here are privately maintained.

The town of Storm Lake, in northwestern Iowa, has become a center of lighthouse interest in the state, with several working lighthouses and a number of faux lighthouses.

Special thanks to Ron Schooling for sharing his research on Iowa lighthouses.

A note: to be listed in the Directory, a lighthouse must actually serve as an aid to navigation. This means it must be located on a navigable lake or river and must be lit as a navigational aid at least during the local boating season.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights.

General Sources

Siebens Memorial Light, Storm Lake
Storm Lake United photo from VisitStormLake.com
Mississippi River Lighthouse
* Peevler (Keokuk Yacht Club)
2001. Active; focal plane 23 ft (7 m); flashing green light. 20 ft (6 m) round tower with a small lantern. Lighthouse painted white, lantern red. A 2007 photo and another photo (1/3 the way down the page) are available, and Google has a street view, but the tower is not very conspicuous in Google's satellite view. The lighthouse was built as a memorial to Bill Peevler, who had been the commodore of the club. Located at the end of the pier of the Keokuk Yacht Club, on the north side of Keokuk at river mile 366. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: Keokuk Yacht Club.

Lake Panorama Lighthouse
Note: Lake Panorama is a large planned community at Panora in Guthrie County about 45 miles (72 km) west of Des Moines. The lake is about 7 mi (11.7 km) long and was formed by damming the Middle Raccoon River, a tributary of the Des Moines River.
* Lake Panorama
1976. Active; focal plane about 7 m (23 ft); light pattern unknown. 6 m (20 ft) round tower with lantern, painted with black and white horizontal bands. A small photo is available, the lighthouse is featured on the web site of the Lake Panorama Association, and Google has a distant satellite view. The lighthouse was built by a resident, Max Antrim. A photo is available of a second lighthouse on the lake; we need information about this tower. Located on the marina jetty on the east side of the lake. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: Coulter's Panorama Marina.

West Okoboji Lake Lighthouses
Note: West Okoboji Lake is one of the interconnected Iowa Great Lakes at Spirit Lake in Dickinson County, close to the Minnesota border in northwestern Iowa. The lake is about 6 mi (10 km) long and averages about one mile (1.6 km) in width.
* West Lake Okoboji Harbor Starboard
1968. Active; focal plane 28 ft (8.5 m); flashing red light. 25 ft (7.5 m) round stucco-covered steel tower, painted white. Brodie Thies has a good photo, a small photo of both lights is available (halfway down the page), and Google has a distant satellite view. Located on a short jetty on the north side of the entrance to a large residential neighborhood at the northwestern corner of the lake. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: West Okoboji Harbor Homeowners Association. ARLHS USA-919.
* West Lake Okoboji Harbor Port
1968. Active; focal plane 28 ft (8.5 m); flashing green light. 25 ft (7.5 m) round stucco-covered steel tower, painted white. This light is on the right in Brodie Thies's photo of both lighthouses, a small photo of both lights is available (halfway down the page), and Google has a distant satellite view. Located on a short jetty on the north side of the entrance to a large residential neighborhood at the northwestern corner of the lake. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: West Okoboji Harbor Homeowners Association. ARLHS USA-918.

Storm Lake Lighthouses
Note: Storm Lake is a university town in Buena Vista County in northwestern Iowa. The town is built along the north shore of the lake for which it is named; the lake itself is roughly elliptical and measures about 3.2 mi by 1.6 mi (5.3 by 2.7 km).
* Storm Lake (Siebens Memorial)
1992. Active; focal plane about 36 ft (11 m); flashing white light. 30 ft (9 m) brick tower with lantern; rotating aerobeacon. A photo is at the top of this page, another closeup is available, Lighthouse Digest has a photo and the text from the plaque on the lighthouse, and Google has a satellite view. This lighthouse was built on the campus of Buena Vista University in memory of BVU trustee and benefactor Harold Walter Siebens. Located near the Siebens Field House on the north shore of Storm Lake. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: Buena Vista University.
Stoney Point
1993. Active; focal plane 38 ft (11.5 m); white flash every 15 s. 26 ft (8 m) octagonal stucco-covered wood tower with lantern. Tower painted a light beige color, lantern painted black. A small photo is available (1/3 the way down the page), and Google has a satellite view. The light was built privately by Kirby Roberts, a retired businessman. Located on a prominent point of land on the southwestern side of Storm Lake. Site and tower closed (private), but the light is easily seen from the lake. Owner/site manager: private.
*** Kings Pointe
2008. Active; focal plane 59 ft (18 m); continuous white light. 60 ft (18 m) octagonal steel tower, the lowest story with a sandstone veneer, with lantern and a large observation deck. A external stairway spirals around the tower to the observation deck; there is also an elevator inside the tower. Laura Bernhardt's photo is at right, Amy Spoede has a 2011 closeup, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. The lighthouse was built as one of the attractions of the Kings Pointe Waterpark. Located on Lakeshire Drive at the northeastern corner of the lake. Site and tower open. Owner/site manager: Kings Pointe Waterpark Resort.
Kings Pointe Light
Kings Pointe Light, Storm Lake
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Laura Bernhardt

Missouri River Lighthouse
* Hildrith Lighthouse Marina
1960. Active; focal plane about 25 ft (7.5 m); flashing white light. 18 ft (5.5 m) hexagonal tower with a small lantern, painted white with narrow horizontal bands of blue, black, and red. A small photo is available (halfway down the page), and Google has a satellite view. Located on an Indian mound on the east side of the Missouri at river mile 699.5 and the end of 170th Street, southwest of Whiting in Monona County. Site and tower open. Owner/site manager: Hildrith Lighthouse Campground.

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: North: Minnesota | East: Illinois | South: Missouri | West: Kansas and Nebraska

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Posted July 15, 2003. Checked and revised July 19, 2014. Lighthouses: 8. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.