Congress Considers Transferring Historic Ashland Lighthouse To National Parks Service

Ashland Breakwater Lighthouse
The Ashland Breakwater Lighthouse. Photo: U.S. Coast Guard

The biggest collection of lighthouses in the National Park Service could soon get bigger, if Congress transfers the Ashland Breakwater Light from the Coast Guard to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Right now, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore has eight lighthouses on six islands. The Ashland light station would bring the total to nine, if bills sponsored by U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Sean Duffy pass. Duffy says the 1915 vintage lighthouse is a good fit.

“It’s important that the great history of our community and the lakes are preserved,” Duffy said. “And to include that lighthouse into the National Park is really important. I’m honored that Senator Baldwin wants to work with me.”

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The Apostle Islands lighthouses date back from the Civil War into the early 20th century. Lakeshore Superintendent Bob Krumanaker says Ashland’s light would complete the set.

“The ones already in the park have been recognized as the most significant collection at the historic lighthouses of any National Park in the country,“ Krumanaker said, ”and yet a lot of people don’t realize how much the Ashland harbor breakwater light is really related to the set. It’s also on the National Registry of Historic Places.”

Krumanaker says Ashlanders are proud of their lighthouse.

“If you look at the symbols that are used: in the newspaper and the Ford dealer, the hotel, the Chamber of Commerce… the lighthouse is everywhere in that city,” Krumanaker said, “and yet very few people have been there and very few people know anything about it.”

Ironically, the proposed transfer of the lighthouse comes as Ashland’s last ore dock, built a year after the lighthouse, is being demolished.