The Berwick Light previously the Southwest Reef Lighthouse replaced the Atchafalaya Bay Lightship that was located on the Southwest Reef shoal. This was a result of the high operating costs of the lightship. The plans for the new lighthouse called for a square, pyramidal tower constructed of iron plates. The tower was placed atop four vertical piles screwed into the shoal and was connected to a keepers' bungalow that stood adjacent to the tower on four additional piles. Above the dwelling, the station's fog bell was suspended from a small structure. A red light, produced by a fourth-order Fresnel lens and having a focal plane of forty-nine feet, was displayed for the first time on September 1, 1859. The station was active for just over two years, when the Confederates deactivated it. The lighthouse remained dark throughout the Civil War. In 1865, Union forces discovered the lamps, lens, and plates of glass from the lantern room at St. Martinville. The items were returned to the tower during the summer of 1865, and the lighthouse was reactivated on the sixth anniversary of its first lighting.
A severe hurricane swept through Atchafalaya Bay in October of 1867, damaging the exposed tower. After the storm, repairs were completed at the station, and braces were placed diagonally between the piles for added strength. In 1875, the station was elevated an additional ten feet, increasing the buffer zone between the lighthouse and the gulf waters. Just before World War I, a channel was cut through the Point Au Fer Shoal, creating a more direct route to the Atchafalaya River. The Point Au Fer Reef Lighthouse was constructed next to the new channel on an island formed by the dredging operation. When the new lighthouse was activated in 1916, the Southwest Reef Lighthouse was discontinued. For over seventy years, the abandoned tower slowly rusted away until the town of Berwick brought it ashore in 1987. Today, the tower stands on the western bank of the Atchafalaya River located in the town of Berwick near the intersection of Bellview Front Street and Canton Street on the water.
Location: South End of Lake
Sponsored by: Louisiana Cajun Mardi Gras Group
GPS: N 34º 25.56’ W114º 18.25’
Beacon flash sequence:
Berwick Lighthouse Replica