Getting a close-up look at the remains of the Manitowoc breakwater South Pier Light

The base of the South Pier Light on the Manitowoc breakwater is visible Jan. 8, 2019, one day after the 20-foot-tall fiberglass and steel lighthouse was swept into Lake Michigan. In the background is a larger lighthouse on the north pier of the breakwater. (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

MANITOWOC, Wis. (WLUK) -- Now that the waters have calmed, we got a look Tuesday at the site where a small lighthouse was swept into Lake Michigan in Manitowoc.

About a half-mile off the Manitowoc shoreline, fiberglass fluttered in the frigid air. White chunks are all that's left of what was once known as South Breakwater Light Number Three.


"About 20 feet is what the shell part would be, and then there on the structure is where our lighting equipment was," said Chief Eric Olson of the U.S. Coast Guard. "There's maybe a small four-by-four-foot platform, with handrails, solar panels and the light itself."

Strong winds and high waves leveled the navigational beacon Monday morning.

"It's definitely my number one priority to address," Olson said.


Olson said the cleanup process is just beginning.

"At this point, we're trying to basically coordinate a unified effort for some type of a salvage," he said. "I'm working with our civil engineering folks out of Cleveland, and our Department of Prevention and Waterways out of District Nine, also out of Cleveland, just to come up with some kind of plan."

The beacon and its debris now sit in about 10-20 feet of water. Coast Guard officials say ships heading in and out of Manitowoc Harbor or those passing nearby on Lake Michigan, will be guided by GPS.

"For now, that's another way that we're kind of mitigating the fact that there isn't a physical aid there," Olson said.

Olson said there is no timeline on the repairs, or how much it will cost. He says this empty platform is a reminder of the awesome power of nature.

"I actually saw it flash yesterday morning on my way to work, so I know it was there and it was standing," he said. "And then suddenly it was a freak phenomenon, and the lake decided to take it away from us."

The larger white lighthouse on the breakwater's north pier was not damaged in Monday's storm.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off

Trending