Lighthouses of the United States: Iowa
The U.S. state of Iowa is in the center
of the country on the west bank of the Mississippi River, north of Missouri and south of Minnesota. Navigable waterways in Iowa include the Mississippi River on the east and the Missouri River on the state's southwestern border. The Coast Guard maintains aids to navigation on the two rivers but very few of them meet the Directory's definition
of a lighthouse. All the lighthouses listed here are privately maintained.
The town of Storm Lake in northwestern Iowa has become a center of lighthouse interest in the state, with several working lighthouses and a number of faux lighthouses.
Special thanks to Ron Schooling for sharing his research on Iowa lighthouses.
A note: to be listed in the Directory a lighthouse must actually serve as an aid to navigation.
This means it must be located on a navigable lake or river and must be
lit as a navigational aid at least during the local boating season.
ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS
World List of Lights. USCG numbers are from volume 5 of the U.S.
Coast Guard List of Lights.
- General Sources
- U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Center: Light Lists
- The USCG Light List can be downloaded in pdf format.
- Mississippi River Lighthouses
- * Fort Madison Harbor
- Date unknown. Active (official; maintained by the city); focal plane about 23 ft (7 m); white flash every 6 s. 4.5 m (15 ft) round concrete tower with lantern, painted with black and white spiral bands. No photo available but Google has a street view and a satellite view. Located on the west side of the entrance to the marina at Fort Madison, river mile 383.7. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: City of Fort Madison (Riverview Marina. USCG 5-15407.
- * Peevler (Keokuk Yacht Club)
- 2001. Active (unofficial but charted; maintained by the club); focal plane 23 ft (7 m); continuous green light. 20 ft (6 m) round tower with a small lantern. Lighthouse painted white, lantern red. A 2007 photo and another photo (1/3 the way down the page) are available, Google has a street view, and the lighthouse can be seen in Google's satellite view. The lighthouse was built as a memorial to Bill Peevler, who had been the commodore of the club. Located at the end of the pier of the Keokuk Yacht Club, on the north side of Keokuk at river mile 366. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: Keokuk Yacht Club.
Rathbun Lake Lighthouse
- * Rathbun Lake Marina
- 2019. Active; focal plane unknown; continuous (?) white light. 52 ft (16 m) round precast concrete tower with lantern and gallery, painted with red and white horizontal bands. The lighthouse is too new to appear in Google's satellite view of the location. Rathbun Lake is a flood control reservoir on the Chariton River near Moravia in Appanoose County, about 75 mi (120 km) southeast of Des Moines. The lake is about 15 mi (25 km) long. Located on a hilltop overlooking the marina. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: Rathbun Lake Marina.
Note: Lake Panorama is a
large planned community at Panora in Guthrie County about 45 miles (72 km) west of Des
Moines. The lake is about 7 mi (11.7 km) long and was formed by damming the Middle Raccoon River, a tributary of the Des Moines River.
Lake Panorama Lighthouse
- * Lake Panorama
- 1976. Active; focal plane about 7 m (23 ft); light pattern unknown. 6 m
(20 ft) round tower with lantern, painted with black and white horizontal
bands. A photo is at right, another photo is available, and Google has a satellite
view. The lighthouse was built by a resident, Max Antrim. Note: a photo is available of a second lighthouse on the lake; we need information about
this tower. Located on the
marina jetty on the east side of the lake. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: Coulter's Panorama
Missouri River Lighthouses
- * Hildrith Lighthouse Marina
- 1960. Active (unofficial and not charted); focal plane about 25 ft (7.5 m); flashing white light. 18 ft (5.5 m) hexagonal tower with a small lantern, painted white with narrow horizontal bands of blue, black, and red. Marvin Hildrith has a 2017 photo, and Google has a satellite view. Located on an Indian mound on the east side of the Missouri at river mile 699.5 and the end of 170th Street, southwest of Whiting in Monona County. Site and tower open. Owner/site manager: Hildrith Lighthouse Campground.
- * City of Sioux City
- Date unknown. Active (official but not charted; privately maintained); focal plane about 8 m (26 ft); continuous white light. This light appears to be in the cupola atop an octagonal gazebo. Rich Rensberger has a view across the harbor and Google has a satellite view. This light marks the head of navigation on the Missouri River. Located on the west side of the entrance to the Sioux City Marina. Site open, tower closed. USCG 5-17685.
Lake Panorama Light, Guthrie County
tripadvisor.com photo "provided by management"
Storm Lake Lighthouses
- Note: Storm Lake is a university town in Buena Vista County in northwestern Iowa. The town is built along the north shore of the lake for which it is named; the lake itself is roughly elliptical and measures about 3.2 mi by 1.6 mi (5.3 by 2.7 km).
- * Storm Lake (Awaysis Park)
- 2008. Active; focal plane 59 ft (18 m); continuous white light. 60 ft (18 m) octagonal steel tower, the lowest story with a sandstone veneer, with lantern and a large observation deck. A external stairway spirals around the tower to the observation deck; there is also an elevator inside the tower. Ed Tullar's photo is at right, Amy Rodriguez has a 2011 closeup, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Located in Awaysis Park, a city park on on Lakeshore Drive at the northeastern corner of the lake. Site and tower open. Owner/site manager: City of Storm Lake.
- * Siebens Memorial
- 1992. Active; focal plane about 36 ft (11 m); flashing white light. 30 ft
(9 m) brick tower with lantern; rotating aerobeacon. A photo is at the top of this page, another closeup is available, Lighthouse Digest has a photo and the text from the plaque on the lighthouse, and Google has a satellite
view. This lighthouse was built on the campus of
Buena Vista University in memory of BVU trustee and benefactor Harold Walter
Siebens. Located near the Siebens Field House on the north shore of Storm Lake. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site
manager: Buena Vista University.
- Stoney Point
- 1993. Active; focal plane 38 ft (11.5 m); white flash every 15 s. 26 ft (8 m) octagonal stucco-covered wood tower with lantern. Tower painted a light beige color, lantern painted black. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. The light was built privately by Kirby Roberts, a retired businessman. Located on a prominent point of land on the southwestern side of Storm Lake. Site and tower closed (private), but the light is easily seen from the lake. Owner/site manager: private.
Awaysis Park Light, Storm Lake, June 2017
Google Maps photo by Ed Tullar
West Okoboji Lake Lighthouses
- Note: West Okoboji Lake is one of the interconnected Iowa Great Lakes at Spirit Lake in Dickinson County, close to the Minnesota border in northwestern Iowa. The lake is about 6 mi (10 km) long and averages about one mile (1.6 km) in width.
- * West Lake Okoboji Harbor Starboard
- 1968. Active; focal plane 28 ft (8.5 m); flashing red light. 25 ft (7.5 m) round stucco-covered steel tower, painted white. Brodie Thies has a good photo, a small photo of both lights is available (3/4 the way down the page), and Google has a satellite view. Located on a short jetty on the north side of the entrance to a large residential neighborhood at the northwestern corner of the lake. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: West Okoboji Harbor Homeowners Association. ARLHS USA-919.
- * West Lake Okoboji Harbor Port
- 1968. Active; focal plane 28 ft (8.5 m); flashing green light. 25 ft (7.5 m) round stucco-covered steel tower, painted white. This light is on the right in Brodie Thies's photo of both lighthouses, a small photo of both lights is available (3/4 the way down the page), and Google has a satellite view. Located on a short jetty on the south side of the entrance to a large residential neighborhood at the northwestern corner of the lake. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: West Okoboji Harbor Homeowners Association. ARLHS USA-918.
Clear Lake Lighthouse
- Note: Clear Lake is a natural (spring-fed) lake in Cerro Gordo County, west of Mason City in northern Iowa. The lake is very popular as a fishing and summer vacation destination.
- Clear Lake (IRBC)
- Date unknown. Active (?); light pattern unknown. Approx. 65 ft (20 m) octagonal cylindrical tower with lantern and gallery. A photo is available and Google has a satellite view. The lighthouse is built on the grounds of a religious summer camp. Located at Ventura near the west end of the lake. Site open to campers, tower status unknown. Owner/site manager: Iowa Regular Baptist Camp.
Notable faux lighthouses:
Casino, on the Missouri River in Sioux City, had a conspicuous faux lighthouse, but it was demolished in October 2014.
Google has a street view but Google's satellite view confirms the removal of the lighthouse.
Towers (1935), three of them on the Mississippi River at Clinton,
have never been aids to navigation. Jose Delapaz has a photo of the south light with the center light in the distance, Kristen Wrenn has a street view of the north light, Wally Smith has a street view of the center light and a street view of the south light, and Google has satellite views of the north light, center light, and south light.
- Storm Lake has an often-photographed faux lighthouse at the eastern entrance to the town from US 71. Google has a street view and a good satellite view.
- Storm Lake Lighthouse Inn has a working lighthouse at its entrance, but it is not actually on the lake. Google has a street view and a satellite view.
near Dubuque, is not located anywhere near navigable water. Google has a satellite view.
Adjoining pages: North: Minnesota | East: Illinois | South: Missouri | West: Nebraska
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Posted July 15, 2003. Checked and revised August 6, 2018.
Lighthouses: 12. Site copyright 2018 Russ Rowlett and the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill.