8800 Cana Island Rd. (Bailey's Harbor, WI.)

Website: Cana Island Lighthouse

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Directions: Head north out of Bailey's Harbor on Hwy 57. Turn east on County Q. Follow the Cana Island Lighthouse signs. You will make one right turn approximately 3 1/2 miles after turning onto Hwy Q, but it is well signed. Follow the road to its' end, and walk the causeway to the island.

When the Bailey's Harbor Lighthouse began to fall apart, in the late 1860's, the decision was made, not to rebuild the deteriorating lighthouse, but to build a new lighthouse, on a piece of land, known as Cana Island.

Cana Island is 8.7 acres of land, located to the north of Bailey's Harbor. The island is connected to the mainland by a small strip of land (Cana Island only becomes an island, when the waters of Lake Michigan are too high, and cover the pathway).

Bulit in 1869, the Cana Island Lighthouse was constructed of a "buff-colored cream city brick". The tower, is eighteen feet in diameter and stands 89 feet high.

To get to the top of the tower, a 102 step spiral staircase was installed.

The beacon for Cana Island, is what is known as a "Third Order Fresnal Lens".

Made in Paris, this type of lens, is over five feet in length, and can project a beam of light, that can be seen over eighteen nautical miles away.

Weather was always a factor on Cana Island, and as anyone who has spent any time on Lake Michigan, will tell you, the storms can be fierce.

In 1880, a storm gale flooded the lighthouse keepers quarters. As a result, an acre of dirt was filled around the lighthouse grounds, to help prevent further flooding.

The lighthouse tower was also a victim of the weather. After 32 years of constant attack by wind, and water, the brick tower was beginning to erode. To help stop this erosion, steel plates were placed around the tower, in 1902. The steel plates remain on the tower, to this day.

As with the fate of all Great Lakes Lighthouses, the days of the "manned" lighthouses, were comming to an end. For Cana Island, the last lighthousekeeper (Ross Wright), left the property in 1941. The lighthouse went completely automated in 1945.

Without constant supervision, the lighthouse, and property around it, fell into disarray.

In the 1970's, The Door County Maritime Museum stepped in, and restored the lighthouse, and the property around it.

Today, the Cana Island Lighthouse is open to the public from May thru October. If you want to take a picture of the Cana Island Lighthouse, you're going to have some company. It is said, that the Cana Island Lighthouse, is the most photographed (and painted) lighthouse on the Great Lakes.

  • A white figure has been seen wandering the lighthouse grounds.

  • Unknown. There is no record of any Lighthousekeepers, or any of their family dying on Cana Island. The steamer "Bartelme" did run a ground on the southside of the island, on October 8th, 1928, but
    there were no casualties as a result of that accident.

    There is also a rumor that a man drowned in the waters near the lighthouse sometime in
    the 1930's, but that's just a rumor.

    Another possible suspect (purely the author's theory), is that of former
    lighthousekeeper, Clifford Sanderson.
    Sanderson was raised on Cana Island, while his father was the lighthousekeeper. He then returned to the lighthouse, first as an Assisitant Lighthousekeeper (1884-1889), then as the Lighthousekeeper (1924-1933). Sanderson passed away in 1942, but maybe, like in life, he keeps returning.

    ....View from the top.

    .....The spiral staircase.