Is it a Lighthouse or a Light Station or Pierhead Light?

Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, Port Washington has a number of lights that have served to guide mariners as they traverse the sometimes treacherous waters and to guide visitors into the harbor. Since 1849 the community of Port Washington has been marked by a light atop the north bluff overlooking the downtown. This light was a part of a lighthouse.

A lighthouse is a building with a powerful light that guides mariners. As a point of clarification, a light station is a complex of buildings, which includes a lighthouse.

1860 Lighthouse and Light Station Museum

Light Station

The 1860 Port Washington Light is a light station. There is a light tower, keeper’s house, generator building, garage, and kerosene storage building. In years past the light station was also comprised of a summer kitchen, woodshed, and privies—all located on the grounds of the light station.

1860 Lighthouse and Light Station Museum


1935 Pierhead Light

Pierhead Light

Fondly thought of over the years as a lighthouse, the 1935 Art Deco Pierhead Light at the end of the breakwater is actually a pierhead light and aid to navigation. The term “pierhead light” generally refers to small individual light towers built to mark a channel or pierhead, the outermost end of a pier, wharf or breakwater. This light marks the entrance to the harbor of Port Washington.



1860 Lighthouse and Light Station Port Exploreum Resource Center