Baileys Harbor Range Lights
No visit to The Ridges would be complete without experiencing the iconic Baileys Harbor Range Lights. Built in 1869 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, the Upper Range Light and its companion Lower Range Light are the only lighthouses of this design that are still on range and functional as navigational aids. These modest but enduring structures played a critical role in the history of Baileys Harbor and in the founding of The Ridges.
At the time they were built, the Range Lights were considered a more effective way to keep ships off the treacherous reefs and shallows at the entrance to Baileys Harbor. From the water, a sailor got “on range” by vertically aligning the white light in the Upper Range Light, which shone at a height of 39 feet above the water, with the Lower Range Light’s red beacon, fixed at 22 feet above the water.
In 1935, permission was granted to the Door County Park Commission to use the lighthouse acreage, except for the land immediately surrounding the two range lights, as a park. A few years later, the commissioners decided to clear some of the land for use as a trailer park. Led by Albert Fuller, Curator of Botany at the Milwaukee Public Museum, residents of Baileys Harbor and the surrounding area joined together and formed The Ridges Sanctuary in 1937 to stop the development and preserve the unique terrain.
Today The Ridges Sanctuary staff, members and volunteers have become the new keepers of the lights, dedicated to the preservation of the structures and their cultural history.
Click here to learn more about the Range Lights.
Spend some time this summer living as Lighthouse Keepers did over 100 years ago. Commitments run Sunday through Sunday from May to October. Volunteers will be asked to arrive between 12 and 1pm on their first Sunday and leave at 2pm on their second Sunday. This will allow for cross training between new and returning docents. The volunteer schedule will be as follows:
Arrival - Sunday between 12 and 1pm (Range Lights are closed to the public on this day).
Welcome Visitors - Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10am-3pm
- Wednesday, the Range Light will be open from 11am-2pm but a local docent will operate tours, so Resident Docents can have the day off and explore Door County.
More detailed information is available in the Resident Docent Guidebook shared below.
The Upper Range Light is fully equipped with water, sewer, and electric. Since the building began its renovation, we’ve added to and upgraded our amenities and now have a fully functional bathroom with shower, functional kitchen, and living quarters. The docents will have access to the second-floor bedroom for their sleeping arrangements. We will provide a full-size bed and an additional camping cot. Docents will be required to bring their own linens.
The kitchen in the lower level of the building was beautifully remodeled in Winter of 2023 and features all the necessary kitchen items like a fridge, stove, microwave, sink etc. We will also be including a “lounge” space in the kitchen for the docents to have a comfortable place to lounge outside of their commitments to lead tours. We will not be providing a TV but will provide internet so that docents can use their own devices as they please.
Applications for the 2024 Season are now being accepted. Applications are due by 5pm on January 5th, 2024. Applications can be submitted by mail or by email:
The Ridges Sanctuary, PO Box 152, Baileys Harbor WI 54202
***Applications must be complete in order to be considered. Please remember to submit all materials including a letter of interest and application form itself. Please read the instructions carefully, and reach out if you have any questions.