Lighthouses of the United States: Indiana

The U.S. state of Indiana has a short coastline, about 45 miles (70 km) long, on the southern end of Lake Michigan. On this coast there is only one historic light station, near the east end at Michigan City. This station is often described as "Indiana's only lighthouse." Actually, the state also has a number of active and interesting pierhead lights in the industrialized areas southeast of Chicago. Unfortunately, there is no lighthouse preservation group watching out for these lights. Perhaps because of this, the pierhead light at Calumet Harbor was demolished in 1995.

Aids to navigation in Indiana are maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard Ninth District, but ownership (and sometimes operation) of historic lighthouses has been transferred to local authorities and preservation organizations in many cases.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. USCG numbers are from Volume VII of the U.S. Coast Guard Light List.

General Sources
Seeing the Light - The Lighthouses of Indiana
Outstanding historical accounts and photos posted by Terry Pepper.
Indiana Lighthouses
Excellent photos and historical accounts by Kraig Anderson.
Lighthouse Hunters - Indiana
Photos and accounts by Christine and Tom Cardaci.
National Maritime Inventory - Indiana
Inventory of Indiana lighthouse data.
Coast Guard Lighthouses - Indiana
Historic photos with notes by Melissa Buckler and Marie Vincent.
Lighthouses in Indiana
Photos available from Wikimedia.
Lighthouses of Indiana
Historic images posted by Michel Forand.
Lighthouses of the Great Lakes - Lake Michigan
This site, by Neil Schultheiss, has photos and accounts of most of the lighthouses on the lake.
The Lighthouse People - Indiana
Photos by Bob and Sandra Shanklin.
USA/Indiana Lighthouses
Historic postcard images posted by Michel Forand.
Leuchttürme USA auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.

Old Michigan City Light
1858 Michigan City Light, Michigan City, July 2011
Flickr Creative Commons photo by C.M. Hanchey

Lake County (East Chicago and Gary) Lighthouses
Note: Calumet Harbor is in Illinois, but its breakwaters extend across the state line into Indiana waters.
[Calumet Harbor (2)]
1995 (station established 1905). Active; focal plane 51 ft (16 m); red flash every 2.5 s. Approx. 46 ft (14 m) round cylindrical "D9" tower, painted white with one red horizontal band. A photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Anderson has a photo of the 1905 lighthouse as it appeared in 1914 and another photo showing how the lighthouse was raised atop a new lower story in 1923. Forand has a 1936 photo showing further modifications, and Anderson has a 1983 photo. Badly deteriorated due to lack of maintenance, the lighthouse was demolished in 1995. Located at the end of the attached breakwater at the harbor entrance. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-102; USCG 7-19830.
Calumet Harbor Entrance South Side
1995 (?). Active; focal plane 30 ft (9 m) (?); green flash every 4 s. 30 ft (9 m) round cylindrical "D9" tower, mounted on a square platform supported by four cylindrical legs. A photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. The photo suggests that the focal plane has been raised from the listed 30 ft and is closer to the 50 ft (15 m) level of the companion harbor light. Located at the north end of the detached section of the Calumet Harbor Breakwater, across the entrance from the Calumet Harbor Light. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. USCG 7-19835.
Calumet Harbor Breakwater South End
1995 (?). Active; focal plane 50 ft (15 m); flash every 5 s, alternately red and white. 45 ft (13.5 m) square steel skeletal tower, upper half enclosed, painted white with a red horizontal band. No lantern; the solar powered light is displayed from the top. Fog horn (2 s blast every 15 s). Gary Martin's photo is at right, a 2009 photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the east end of a detached breakwater at the harbor entrance. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-1190; USCG 7-19800.
Calumet Breakwater Light
Breakwater South End Light and Chicago Skyline, Calumet City, June 2010
Flickr photo copyright Gary Martin; used by permission
[Indiana Harbor (2)]
1985 (station established 1923). Active; focal plane 48 ft (15 m); continuous green light. The modern light is a round cylindrical "D9" tower, painted white with one green horizontal band. The Coast Guard has a historic aerial photo of the original lighthouse, which had a square light tower with lantern and gallery centered on a 2-story keeper's house, all standing on a large rectangular concrete pier. This lighthouse became redundant as the harbor area was expanded, surrounding its location. The present light, marked as Indiana Harbor Light 5, stands on the original pier at the south end of the east breakwater; Google has a satellite view. Site and tower closed. ARLHS USA-402; USCG 7-19690.
Indiana Harbor East Breakwater
1935. Active; focal plane 78 ft (24 m); green light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 75 ft (23 m) square cylindrical steel tower mounted on a raised steel platform. Lantern removed; the light is displayed from a short mast. Structure painted white with red roofs. Fog horn (2 blasts every 20 s). A 2010 photo is available, the Cardacis have a page with several photos, the Coast Guard has a historic photo, and Google has a satellite view. This lighthouse is a copy of the much-better-known pierhead lighthouse at Port Washington, Wisconsin. Located at the end of the breakwater on the east side of the harbor entrance in East Chicago. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-401; USCG 7-19675.
Buffington Harbor Breakwater
1926. Active (privately maintained); focal plane 48 ft (14.5 m); red flash every 4 s. 46 ft (14 m) round concrete tower mounted on an oval-shaped fog signal structure. Entire lighthouse painted red, the color having weathered to red orange. C.W. Bash's photo is at right, a 2010 photo is available, the Cardacis have a page with several photos, Forand has a historic photo taken in 1928, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the breakwater on the east side of Buffington Harbor in Gary. Accessible only by boat, but there's a good view from the Majestic Star Hotel and Casino near the base of the breakwater. Site and tower closed. Owner: City of Gary. Site manager: Gary New Century LLC. ARLHS USA-1017; USCG 7-19630.
Gary West Breakwater
1911. Active (privately maintained); focal plane 40 ft (12 m); red flash every 10 s, every fourth flash omitted. 40 ft (12 m) round steel tower, painted red. The original 6th order Fresnel lens is mounted in the tower but not in use; the active light is an acrylic lens on top of the lantern. Fog horn (blast every 30 s). The Cardacis have a page with several 2010 photos, C.W. Bash has a distant view, and Google has a satellite view. This lighthouse has an unusual tapered-conical design, seen well in the Coast Guard's historic photo. Located at the end of the long west breakwater at Gary. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Steel Corporation (Gary Works). ARLHS USA-317; USCG 7-19610.

Buffington Breakwater Light, December 2006
Flickr Creative Commons photo copyright C.W. Bash

LaPorte County (Michigan City) Lighthouses
[Michigan City West Pierhead (3)]
Date unknown (station established 1875). Active; focal plane 41 ft (12.5 m); red flash every 6 s. Approx. 36 ft (11 m) post. No photo available. The first lighthouse on the west pier was the 1871 east pier light, relocated in 1875. Swept away by a storm in 1886, it was not replaced until 1904. Pepper has a postcard view of the 1904 tower, a round cast iron tower with lantern and gallery, Forand also has a postcard photo dated 1910, and Huelse has another postcard view. A third postcard view shows this lighthouse was still in place as of 1926. We don't know when the lighthouse was removed. Located at the end of the short east pier at Michigan City. Site status unknown. USCG 7-19565.
Michigan City Breakwater
1911. Active; focal plane 36 ft (12 m); red flash every 4 s. 32 ft (9.5 m) square pyramidal tower with the light mounted at the top. Lighthouse painted white with a narrow red horizontal band near the top. A 2010 photo is available, the Shanklins have a photo, the light is at lower left in Tom Gill's photo at right, and Google has a satellite view. This light is similar to the Muskegon South Breakwater Light in Michigan. Located at the north end of a detached breakwater just offshore from the East Pierhead light. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-1016; USCG 7-19555.
* Michigan City East Pierhead (2)
1904 (station established 1871). Active; focal plane 55 ft (17 m); white light occulting every 4 s. 49 ft (15 m) octagonal cylindrical steel tower mounted on a square brick and steel fog signal building; rotating 2130C lens. Lighthouse painted white, lantern black; fog signal building roof is red. Fog horn (2 blasts every 30 s). The original elevated walkway along the pier connects the lighthouse to shore. Tom Gill's photo is at right, Anderson has a fine page with several photos, Paul Everett has a 2008 photo, the Coast Guard has a historic photo, Forand has a 1905 postcard view and a 1915 view, Huelse has a distant postcard view, and Google has a satellite view. The original lighthouse, a wood tower, was moved to the west pierhead in 1875 and swept away by a storm in 1886. In 2007, the present lighthouse became available for transfer under NHLPA. The City of Michigan City applied for ownership and its application was approved. In 2014, the lighthouse was repainted and refurbished in a $160,000 project funded by the Michigan City Port Authority and the Michigan City Redevelopment Commission. Located at the end of the pier off the east side of the harbor. Accessible by walking the pier. Views from Washington Park. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-493; USCG 7-19545.
**** Michigan City (2)
1858 (station established 1835). Inactive since 1904. 34 ft (10 m) square cylindrical wood tower mounted on 2-story brick and wood keeper's house. Tower painted white with a black lantern roof; frame upper story of keeper's quarters painted dark green; roof is red. The light tower and lantern are replicas installed in 1973. A photo appears at the top of this page, Anderson's excellent page has several photos, a 2012 photo and a 2007 photo are available, Forand has a historic 1900 postcard view, and Google has a street view and a good satellite view. This historic lighthouse has a typical "early classic schoolhouse" design, similar to the lighthouses at Grand Traverse, Michigan, and Pottawatomie, Wisconsin. The building continued in service until 1940 as the keeper's quarters for the Michigan City East Pierhead Light. Brick oil house and other outbuildings also preserved. The lighthouse is now the Michigan City Old Lighthouse Museum; the original 5th order L. Sautter Fresnel lens is on display. In 2003 members of the Hoosier Lighthousing Club rebuilt the spiral stairway, allowing visitors to climb to the lantern room for the first time. In 2013, a federal grant helped replace the lantern room (a 1973 replica), which had developed serious leaks. Lighthouse Digest also has a feature article on the light station. Located at Franklin Street and Lakeshore Drive in downtown Michigan City. Site open, museum and tower open every afternoon except Monday. Owner: City of Michigan City. Site manager: Michigan City Historical Society. ARLHS USA-913.
Michigan City East Pierhead Light
East Pierhead Light, Michigan City, April 2007
Flickr Creative Commons photo
by Tom Gill

Inland Lighthouses
* Cedar Lake (Lighthouse Restaurant)
2009. Active; focal plane about 38 ft (12 m); continuous (?) white light. Copper lantern mounted atop a 2-story waterfront restaurant building. A photo is available, but the building is too new to appear in Google's satellite view. Cedar Lake is a 2 mi (3 km) long natural lake in Lake County. Located at East Lakeshore Drive and Constitution Avenue in the town of Cedar Lake. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: Lighthouse Restaurant.
Lake Shafer
1929(?). Active; focal plane 25 ft (7.5 m); flashing amber light. 25 ft (7.5 m) round cylindrical rubblestone tower, unpainted, with a small lantern and gallery. A photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Lake Shafer is a reservoir about 10 mi (16 km) long, formed by damming the Tippecanoe River near Monticello in White County. The lighthouse is on the grounds of a lakeside bed and breakfast inn. Located on the east side of the lake, across from the mouth of Big Monon Creek. Site open to guests of the inn; tower closed. Owner/site manager: Lighthouse Lodge Bed and Breakfast.
* Culver (Lake Maxinkuckee)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 50 ft (15 m); flashing green light. 37 ft (11 m) octagonal concrete tower with lantern. The tower is unpainted white concrete; lantern painted dark gray. A photo is at right, another photo and a nighttime photo are available, Wikimedia has a distant view, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. Located in a park on the waterfront of Culver, a town at the northwestern corner of Lake Maxinkuckee, a large natural lake in Marshall County. Owner/site manager: Town of Culver.
Culver Light
Culver Light, Culver
Town of Culver photo

Ohio River Lighthouses
* Mason's Landing (Dodd Castle)
2010. Active; focal plane about 150 ft (46 m); flashing white light. 56 ft (17 m) round rubblestone tower with lantern and a wood gallery, attached to a rubblestone house. The tower is unpainted; lantern dome is gray. A 2010 photo is available, but Bing has a good satellite view. The house (what the English would call a "folly") was built around 1990 and was known as Dodd Castle. The "castle" had a round tower at one end, which the present owner has extended to form the lighthouse. There is a 2006 photo of the house in its original form, and Google has a street view and a satellite view taken before the lantern was added. The house sits on the outside of a sharp bend of the Ohio River, allowing the light to be seen for a long distance in both directions. Located at 8200 Highway 166 in Tobin Township, Perry County, about 6 mi (10 km) north of Tobinsport. Site and tower closed, but there's a good view from the road. Owner/site manager: private.
* Madison (Lighthouse Restaurant)
2007. Active; focal plane 29 ft (9 m); continuous white light. Octagonal wood tower mounted atop a 1-story floating restaurant. Tower painted white; the restaurant iis light beige with a blue roof. Jim Rice has a 2010 photo, another photo is available, and Bing has a good satellite view. Located near the foot of Broadway Street on the waterfront of Madison, the county seat of Jefferson County. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: Lighthouse Restaurant.

Information available on lost lights:

  • Calumet Pierhead (1873-1976). The postcard view shows the second (1898) lighthouse; Anderson links to a mural that has a view of the original lighthouse in the lower right corner. The 1898 lighthouse was removed after being struck by a ship in 1976.

Notable faux lighthouses:

  • Cooper Memorial (1997), on the Prairie Creek Reservoir near Muncie, is an active light but does not meet the Directory's size standard for a lighthouse. The Cardacis have a page for this lighthouse, and Bing has a distant satellite view.
  • Gloryland, near New Castle, is not on navigable water. The Cardacis have a page for this lighthouse, and Bing has a satellite view.
  • Lighthouse Point Yacht Club, on the Ohio River at Aurora, has a small decorative lighthouse; it has a light but is not an aid to navigation. Google has a fuzzy street view, and Bing has a satellite view.
  • Westport (1930s), a ruined structure in Clark County across the Ohio River from Westport, Kentucky; there's no evidence that it was ever active as an aid to navigation. Bing has a satellite view.

Adjoining pages: North: Michigan Western Lower Peninsula | South: Kentucky | West: Illinois

Return to the Lighthouse Directory index

Posted January 2004. Checked and revised March 3, 2014. Lighthouses: 13. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.