Lights of the Lakes is popular because people love lighthouses. They see them as symbols of safety, reliability, beauty, and adventure. For over 150 years, our historic lighthouses have protected mariners on the Great Lakes. Lights of the Lakes tells their incredible story!
How It All Started
Lights of the Lakes was conceived at a party in November of 1988. Several of us were visiting an apartment in Milwaukee to watch a Packer game. We were talking in the living room, and the conversation shifted to photography. Some framed 8x10s hung in the host’s living room. I said I was also a photographer. Someone asked what I liked to photograph. I replied, “Lighthouses.”
One of the guys heard that and asked, “Do you have prints or slides?” I said, “Mostly slides.” He said that he was a member of the Sailing Club of UW/Milwaukee, and asked if I could do a slide show for his club. I said, “Sure.” At that moment, Lights of the Lakes was born.
We decided to do the program the following February. That gave me less than three months to get ready. I chose the slides I wanted to show, organized them, and wrote an 8,000-word script. It was a lot of work which ultimately became a 30-year-long labor of love.
The first Lights of the Lakes show was presented on February 16, 1989, at the UW/M Alumni House, a magnificent old mansion within sight of Lake Michigan. It was a beautiful winter night. Snow was softly falling in the darkness. Inside, an inviting fire warmed the first group of lighthouse fans to see the show. Now, almost 30 years and over 170 shows later, Lights of the Lakes is still going strong. It’s been seen by over 7,000 people in all kinds of places. What a fantastic ride!
What It Is Now
Lights of the Lakes is an original narrated slide show accompanied by music and sound effects. It consists of over 200 photographs, including striking portraits of over 60 different Great Lakes lighthouses. Other images include shipwrecks and historical subjects depicting iron and copper mining and lumbering activities in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The importance of these industries during this period necessitated the construction of many of the lights seen in the show, to help facilitate shipping of mineral and timber products to distant markets.
The program optionally concludes with a tribute to the Great Lakes ore carrier Edmund Fitzgerald. The speaker’s photographic interpretation of this mysterious shipwreck produces a memorable conclusion to the program.
Lights of the Lakes is an hour-long slide presentation featuring the lighthouse photography of Phillip L. Block, who narrates the program from a prepared script.
The Great Lakes lighthouses shown are situated on the shores and islands of Lakes Michigan and Superior. Recurring subordinate themes include lighthouse technology, both past and present, and shipwrecks that occurred when the technology failed.
Lights of the Lakes is perfect for anyone interested in lighthouses, Great Lakes maritime history, shipwrecks, or even recreational boating and sailing. Over four thousand people have enjoyed the show over the years.
- Celebrate the picturesque beauty of our remote great lakes lighthouses, which are captured in many different settings and in all seasons.
- Educate the viewer as to why the lighthouses were originally built, and explain their historical significance to shipping on the Great Lakes.
- Sensitize the viewer to conditions threatening the continued existence of our historic lighthouses.
To learn more about Phil’s background, see About the Presenter.
To view an interactive Google Map showing the locations of all lighthouse in the program, visit the Lighthouse Locator page.
What Do Others Say?
To see what past sponsors have said about Lights of the Lakes, visit the Testimonials page.
To see a list of the almost 140 organzations who have sponsored a Lights of the Lakes program in the past, visit the Past Sponsors page.
Got questions about Lights of the Lakes? If so, visit the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page to get answers!
To Schedule a Program
Lights of the Lakes is frequently requested by maritime and historical organizations, museums, boat and yacht clubs, municipal libraries, senior centers, and similar groups of lighthouse enthusiasts.
To schedule a presentation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (262) 284-2505 [H] or 414-559-7600 [C].
Thank you for your interest in Great Lakes lighthouses and my Lights of the Lakes slide show.
— Phillip L. Block
Call Today! — (414) 559-7600 [C] or (262) 284-2505 [H]