The Two Harbors Agate Bay Light Station is shining once again thanks to a loaner beacon from the U.S. Coast Guard. It was officially lit for the first time at noon Tuesday, June 2.

"It feels great to be able to restore a light to the skyline of Two Harbors, even temporarily," Lake County Historical Society Executive Director Ellen Lynch said. "It's great to look up and see the lighthouse beacon in the sky again as we work on fundraising for a permanent solution."

The lighthouse's beacon experienced a mechanical failure Nov. 25, 2019 and went dark. Volunteer lighthouse keepers Leon Jacobson, Tom Koehler and Todd and Brad Ronning found the latest problem beyond repair. The Historical Society has been working to find another solution to relight the beacon ever since.

"The Coast Guard are the experts, so we called them in to help us figure out our next steps," Lynch said. "They worked with us to find a temporary fix as well as the best replacement to replicate our original light."

Two Harbors Light Station. (Beverly Godfrey / 2019 file / News Tribune)
Two Harbors Light Station. (Beverly Godfrey / 2019 file / News Tribune)

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The lighthouse was constructed in 1891 to help ore boats navigate to Agate Bay. Six hundred tons of rock was blasted out of the bedrock to form the foundation. On April 15, 1892, the original beacon was lit for the first time. It was a stationary Fresnel lens that shone white light in all directions.

When the light was electrified in 1921, the unique flash signature was created: a 0.4-second flash, 4.6 seconds of darkness, a 0.4-second flash and 14.6 seconds of darkness. The flash signature helped to distinguish it from other Lake Superior lighthouses.


Today, the station operates its Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast year-round and as a museum during the summer. Although it was decommissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard in 2000 and turned over to the Historical Society, the lighthouse still operates as an aid to navigation.

Last summer, the keepers removed large parts of the old beacon down the side of the lighthouse tower to make room for a loaned beacon from the Coast Guard. The station can keep the beacon for up to five years. The newly installed beacon is a stationary flashing LED light and a temporary replacement while the Historical Society fundraises for a replacement light.

"The major difference is that the light now is just a flashing strobe versus the iconic sweep that we used to have," Lynch said. "We'll need to fundraise about $60,000 for a new rotating LED beacon to restore the lighthouse's signature light."

The Historical Society is accepting donations and plans to host larger fundraisers later this year.