An Iconic Wisconsin Landmark Rises Again and Takes Flight: The Eagle Tower Project

The original Eagle Tower, erected in 1932 in Peninsula State Park – Photo Credit: Yinan Chen – Friends of the Peninsula State Park

If you live in Wisconsin, chances are that you at least know of Eagle Tower. More likely, you—along with thousands of visitors from around the world—have had indelible experiences of taking in spectacular views of Lake Michigan, the surrounding islands, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Eagle tower offered a captivating and much beloved panorama of Peninsula State Park.

Built in 1932, the observation tower was a 76-foot timber structure. But in 2015 the tower’s deteriorating state caused the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to have serious concerns about its structural integrity and safety. The Wisconsin DNR asked Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) to assess the structure. “Nondestructive Assessment of Wood Members from a Historic Viewing Tower” is a detailed publication of their findings on Eagle Tower’s condition.

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The End of an Era: Eagle Tower's Last Day

Eagle Tower, a wooden observation tower standing 75-feet tall and rising 250 feet above Lake Michigan, was built in 1932 in Wisconsin’s Peninsula State Park. A Door County icon, this well-loved landmark served visitors for generations, but an in-depth inspection conducted in the spring of 2015 indicated the structure was in poor condition and no longer safe for the public.eagletower

The inspection included core sampling to determine the general internal condition of the structural components and overall load-bearing capacity of the structure. On May 20, 2015, the tower was closed for public use. Eagle Tower was taken down on Sept. 19, 2016.

Researchers at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) were asked to help in the evaluation of Eagle Tower as the Lab has extensive experience in historic structure evaluation and nondestructive wood evaluation techniques. FPL researchers will be testing the dismantled wood members and determining if they can be reused in any way to pay homage to the historic tower.

Community members are currently raising funds for the tower’s reconstruction. The new tower will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, current construction codes, and take into consideration new construction technologies.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources put together a slideshow of the deconstruction of Eagle Tower so the public could view the event.