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Duluth ship canal lighthouses added to National Register

DULUTH, Minn. — Two of Duluth’s lighthouses are now federally famous after being added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Duluth Harbor North Pier Light and the Duluth Entry South Breakwater Outer Light — the beacons on either end of the ship canal — gained the recognition in June.

The North Pier Light, operational since 1910, is the black-and-white lighthouse on the mainland side of the Aerial Lift Bridge. The beacon can shine 16 miles in clear weather, and the 37-foot-tall structure still is used for navigation.

“The Duluth Harbor North Pier Light evokes feelings that recall the dedication to duty characteristic of lighthouse keepers throughout the course of United States history,” according to the U.S. Coast Guard application for the National Register listing. “It is widely recognized as a prominent landmark in St. Louis County, and serves as a lasting reminder of the importance of maritime commerce in Great Lakes history.”

The South Breakwater Outer Light, connected to the red-roofed fog signal building, was built in 1901 and can shine its green light up to 17 miles. It is the third lighthouse to stand at the end of the pier.

“This property also qualifies for National Register listing ... because it embodies and exemplifies distinctive aspects of architectural design and engineering that were characteristic of lighthouses built on harbor entry breakwaters in the Great Lakes during the early twentieth century,” according to the application.

Both lighthouses had their beams replaced with LED lights in 2014.

The Duluth Seaway Port Authority writes that with the designation, the lighthouses can be donated or sold by the U.S. Coast Guard.

“This would transfer the high cost of maintaining the lighthouses away from the U.S. Coast Guard, while preserving them as part of a rich maritime history on the Great Lakes,” according to the port.

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