March 4, 1911: Congress approves funding for Superior Entry Light

On this day in 1911, Congress approved $25,000 for the construction of a light and fog signal on the south breakwater and three non-attended beacons marking the piers and northern breakwater. According to Superior historian Judith Liebaert, the plan was first approved in June, 1906, six months after Lake Superior’s notorious Mataafa Storm washed away the previous lighthouse and left the fog whistle inoperable. Ambitious changes to the plans caused the project’s delay—they cost more than Congress had appropriated. Construction of the new lighthouse began in the fall of 1911, with government engineers constructing the concrete piers the light would sit upon. Because construction was completed after the 1912 shipping season, the light first burned in June, 1913. According to Great Lakes lighthouse expert Terry Pepper, the beacon was produced by “a fixed Fourth Order Fresnel with a rotating screen within the lens. mounted on ball bearings and driven by a clockwork motor…. Sitting 70 feet above lake level, the 2,900 candlepower lamp was thus visible for a distance of 16 miles in clear weather.” There is much more to the history of the Superior Entry Light—including the 1889 light it replaced—and you can read it here.

This postcard showing the Superior Entry Light was manufactured between 1913 and 1915. (Image: Zenith City)