The Two Harbors lighthouse has been guiding ships into Agate Bay since 1892. By 1885 roughly 225,000 tons of ore were moving through Agate Bay. The significant increase in commercial shipping from multiple docks spurred the Vessel Owners Association and the US Lighthouse Association to request a lighthouse be built in the town of Agate Bay. On August 4th, 1886 US Congress authorized the allocation of $10,000 to build a light station with a keeper’s quarters and fog signal building.
After surveying, it was determined the station should be built on the East side of Agate Bay on a rocky promenade. It would take another 5 years to begin construction as the government had to acquire a parcel of privately held land. Nearly 600 tons of bedrock were blasted out of the point to form the foundation for the new light tower and head keeper’s quarters.Both structures are constructed of red brick and are connected with a shared wall, 5 bricks thick.
Remaining relatively unchanged, the lighthouse complex has been listed on the National Register of Historic places since 1984. The Lake County Historical Society began to provide tours of the Light Station in 1988 when it was granted a lease by the US Coast Guard. In 1999, the Society appealed to Congressman Oberstar and through a bill passed in congress, the ownership of the Two Harbors Lighthouse was transferred to the Lake County Historical Society. The Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast opened in 1999 to provide support for the preservation of the buildings and grounds. The Society assumed responsibility for the light maintenance and operation from the US Coast Guard in 2001. The light has been maintained with the help from volunteer lighthouse keepers for the past twenty years and remains a private aid to navigation.
$70,000 Campaign to restore the Iconic Sweep & Signature of the Two Harbors Beacon to the Shoreline of Lake Superior
In the late 1990s, Joe Zastera was a driving force in securing the DCB 224 beacon to restore the original sweep of the lens. The beacon dated to 1969 and was repurposed from another lighthouse prior to installation at the Two Harbors Lighthouse. Refurbished with help from the community, a boom truck from Aspen Equipment lifted parts of the beacon to the crow’s nest, nearly 50 feet off the ground. From there, volunteer keepers Leon Jacobson, Tom Koehler, Todd Ronning, and Brad Ronning along with members of the coast guard re-assembled the beacon inside of the lighthouse tower.
For the past 20 years, the volunteer keepers have been maintaining, repairing, and keeping the beacon lit. On November 25th, 2019 the beacon had a failure that could not be repaired. On July 11, 2020 the four volunteer lighthouse keepers were able to remove the non functioning DCB 224 beacon. A maxiluna-300 stationary flashing beacon was put in place and lit June 2nd, 2021. Visitors will note the iconic light sweep is replaced with a flashing beacon. This is not a long term fix as the replacement beacon is on a 5 year loan. The Lake County Historical Society launched the Keep the Light Lit campaign in 2021 to fundraise $70,000 for a modern rotating beacon that will restore the iconic sweep and signature of the light.