Light Hearted

Light Hearted ep 238 – Mary Beth Volmer, Friends of Plum & Pilot Islands, Wisconsin

Pilot Island, Wisconsin. Photo by Tim Sweet, courtesy of Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands.

Porte des Morts, from the French meaning “door of the dead,” is a strait that connects Lake Michigan to Green Bay, Wisconsin. A lighthouse was established in the strait on Plum Island in 1849, but it was determined to be too far west to aid shipping. It was replaced by a lighthouse and fog signal on Pilot Island, less than two miles to the southeast.

Plum Island Rear Range Light, Wisconsin. Courtesy of Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands.

It was still difficult for mariners to determine the exact route to enter the Porte des Morts passage, so in 1897 a pair of range lights was established on Plum Island. The rear range lighthouse, a 65-foot-tall cast-iron skeletal-type tower with a central cylinder, remains standing.

Mary Beth Volmer

Plum and Pilot islands were made part of the Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge in 2007, and management of the lighthouses went to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands was formed to work with Fish and Wildlife for the preservation of the historic properties. The Friends have completed a number of restoration projects. Mary Beth Volmer is the president of Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands.

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