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
the Light - The Lighthouses of Indiana
- Outstanding historical accounts and photos posted by Terry Pepper.
- Excellent photos and historical accounts by Kraig Anderson.
- Lighthouse Hunters - Indiana
- Photos and accounts by Christine and Tom Cardaci.
- Lighthouses in Indiana
- Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
of the Great Lakes - Lake Michigan
- This site, by Neil Schultheiss, has photos and accounts of most of
the lighthouses on the lake.
Lighthouse People - Indiana
- Photos by Bob and Sandra Shanklin.
USA auf historischen Postkarten
- Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.
- NOAA Nautical Chart On-Line Viewer: Great Lakes
- Nautical charts for the coast can be viewed online.
- U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Center: Light Lists
- The USCG Light List can be downloaded in pdf format.
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.
- 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. Anderson also 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.
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
- 1907 (relocated here in 1937). 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. Lantern removed; 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. This poorly-known lighthouse is historic. Originally the north pierhead lighthouse at Holland, Michigan, it was replaced there in 1936 by a light tower on the fog signal building (creating the lighthouse now known as "Big Red" in Holland). Anderson has a historic photo of this tower at Holland in 1913. 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.
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 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
view. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard.
ARLHS USA-402; USCG 7-19690.
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.
- 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,
and Google has a satellite
view. The lighthouse was built by the Universal Portland Cement Company for a harbor serving a giant cement plant. Part of the cement plant property was sold in 1995 for casino development. (Donald Trump owned one of the two floating casinos that were placed on the waterfront, but he sold his interest in 2007. The casino is now onshore.) 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 Casino and Hotel 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
- 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. Built by the Indiana Steel Company, this lighthouse has an unusual tapered-conical design seen well
in the Coast Guard's 1915 photo.
In 2017 U.S. Steel used a crane to bring the lighthouse ashore for repairs and repainting; the plan is to reinstall it on the pier. Normally 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.
The light is at the left in Valery Pugatch's photo, and Google has a satellite view. 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, 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. The Shanklins have a photo,
the light is at lower left in Tom Gill's photo below right, and Google has a satellite
view. The National Archives has a 1914 photo. 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, Huelse has a distant postcard
view, and Google has a street view and 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: City of Michigan City. ARLHS USA-493; USCG
- **** Michigan
- 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.
appears at the top of this page, Anderson's excellent page has several photos,
a 2012 photo and a 2007 photo are available, and Google has a street view and a good satellite
view. Lighthouse Digest also has Jim Merkel's feature
article on the light station. 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.
The light tower and lantern (a replica installed in 1973) developed serious leaks due to storm damage and were replaced in 2014 with a historically accurate replica. More extensive repairs and restoration were completed in the fall of 2017. 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.
East Pierhead Light, Michigan City, April 2007
Flickr Creative Commons photo
by Tom Gill
- * 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 2016 photo is available, and Google has a 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) (2)
- 2006(?). 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 is available, William Taber has a nighttime photo, Wikimedia has a distant view, and Google has a satellite view. A first version of this lighthouse, installed in 2005, was promptly destroyed by vandals. Lighthouse Digest has a photo of a privately-built lighthouse that stood in this area in the early 1900s. 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
Town of Culver photo
- * [Cooper
- 1997. Active; focal plane about 8 m (26 ft); flashing (?) white light. Approx. 5 m (17 ft) round stone tower with lantern, painted white; lantern painted black. The Cardacis have a page for this lighthouse, and Bing has a distant satellite view. The lighthouse was built in memory of Charles W. Cooper, a local outdoorsman. Located on the east side of the Prairie Creek Reservoir near Muncie. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: Muncie Sailing Club.
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, and 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 2009 photo of the house in its original form, and Google has a 2008 street 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. A photo is available, and Google 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).
Anderson links to a
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:
Adjoining pages: North: Michigan Western Lower Peninsula | South: Kentucky | West: Illinois
Return to the Lighthouse Directory
Posted January 2004. Checked and revised November 5, 2017.
Lighthouses: 13. Site copyright 2017 Russ Rowlett and the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill.