The Ridges Sanctuary

Preservation, Education, and Research

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. For more information on tour schedules, click here.

NEW OPPORTUNITY!

Spend some time this summer living as Lighthouse Keepers did over 100 years ago. For the first time, we are opening the Baileys Harbor Range Lights up for a new experience. In 2023, you will have the opportunity to live in the Upper Range Light, while operating Range Light tours from 10am-4pm, performing light maintenance of the facility, cleaning, and assisting with special events as the season requires. Below includes a suite of useful resources that outline the experience, expectations, application and more. If you have any questions after reviewing these documents, please do not hesitate to reach out to the contact people listed on the Docent Application.

Accommodations: 

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 will be remodeled this winter and will feature 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 TO BE CONSIDERED FOR THE 2023 SEASON ARE DUE BY JANUARY 31ST, 2023. Selected docents will be notified by February 28th, 2023 about their upcoming volunteer commitment. 

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