September 1, 1889: Duluth Ship Canal’s Rear Range Light shines for first time

On this day in Duluth in 1889, the Duluth Ship Canal’s new Rear Range Light was lit for the first time. The beacon, also known as the Inner Pier Range Light, was designed to work in tandem with the South Breakwater Light to help mariners navigate the canal in the dark. (Duluth’s North Pier Light would not be built until 1910). The new light stood taller than the South Breakwater Light; when used together, the two lights helped navigators establish range, as lighthouse historian Terry Pepper explains: “By maintaining a line in which these two lights were constantly oriented one above the other, a direct course could be followed to the opening between the two piers.” In 1902, the Rear Range Light and the South Breakwater Light were both replaced with newer structures following the expansion and reconstruction of the canal. While rendered all but unnecessary by the construction of the North Pier Light in 1910, the Rear Range Light was maintained by the Coast Guard. In 2008 the light was purchased by Duluthians Steve Sola and Matt Kampf, and it still stands along the canal’s south pier today. Read more about Duluth’s rear range Light here.

A lithographic postcard made between 1900 and 1915 of Duluth’s Rear Range light on the south pier of the Duluth Ship Canal. (Image: Zenith City Press)