The Old Foghorn
On the Northern Shores of Lake Michigan, Kewaunee Wisconsin

Original foghorn recording from a lost American treasure. Now available on a 31 minute CD and as a unique ringtone for your mobile device.

The Old Foghorn
 As I lay here sleepy
Wrapped in my warm blanket
I think of that cold, gray blanket
That wraps and smothers everything
Holding it prisoner.
Suddenly, the silence is pierced
By a penetrating, deep voice
That echoes out to an endless sea
As a parent calling out to its lost children
Again and again it cries out

Kewaunee Foghorn CD - New improved sound clarity!
This is a one of a kind CD about sounds that may never be produced again in Kewaunee Wisconsin, on the shores of Lake Michigan.  You'll hear the old foghorn, the car ferry and train loading the ferry (both which are also gone and may never return).  Smooth, regular waves and seagulls merge in to create a very relaxing, nostalgic atmosphere.

Many grew up with the old foghorn.  Often, they fell asleep listening to its deep tones and regular droning.  It not only relaxed them but sometimes stirred their imaginations about ships out on the lake.  It comforted them to know that the foghorn was there as a sentry, calling out to ships to help them find the safety of the harbor.  Now, this same reassuring sound can relax you.

In the early 1970's, it appeared that the familiar, old foghorn's sound may soon be quieted.  Some lighthouses on the lake had already changed to the newer electronic devices which, while perhaps more effective, lacked the character of the old foghorn.  Consequently, on a cool, quiet, foggy summer day while the car ferry was loading, a recorder was set on the shore to record the foghorn, waves, seagulls, the car ferry horn and the sound of the diesel train engine loading the car ferry.  Some of these sounds may never return here but they are recorded for you!

Sample from CD: waves, foghorn and car ferry

Kewaunee Foghorn CD in the news:

April 17, 2006
Door County Daily News
Library Of Congress Recognizes Kewaunee Fog Horn

April 14, 2006
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Kewaunee native's effort to save foghorn's lament in 1972 becomes part of nation's historical record

April 14, 2006
St. Paul Pioneer Press
Foghorn now in National Recording Registry

April 13, 2006
Green Bay Press Gazette
Old Kewaunee beacon now beckons from afar

April 12, 2006
Chicago Tribune
Wisconsin foghorn makes National Recording Registry

April 10, 2006


In the late 19th century, Kewaunee Wisconsin, one of the great maritime ports of the northern Great Lakes, sought to challenge Chicago as Lake Michigan's supreme port city.  Its car ferry and rail loading tracks were constructed in 1891 within a vast program of harbor improvements toward this goal.  The port's original fog signal was removed in 1981 when an automated signal was installed.  Improved rail connections to other cities led to the ultimate decline of the port.  Kewaunee's aspirations were short lived.  This recording provides lost sounds of the once bustling northern lake port.

I was informed on April 10, 2006, that a recording I made of the old foghorn in Kewaunee Wisconsin, in 1972,was made a part of the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress, for 2005.  My first reaction was it made me feel good that my hometown would be so recognized.  A total of fifty recordings were included in the Registry for this year.  Some of these recordings, besides the Old Foghorn in Kewaunee WI were: "Will the Circle be Unbroken", Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, 1972, "Oh Happy Day", Edwin Hawkins Singers, 1969, "That'll Be the Day,", Buddy Holly, "In the Mood", Glenn Miller, "Wabash Cannonball", Roy Acuff.

The sound recordings are chosen by a board on the basis of their cultural, historic, aesthetic or other significance.  The Congress enacted this law in 2000.

2005 List of recordings

About James Lipsky (recording artist)
I was born in Kewaunee WI in 1937 and lived there until about 1960.  As a child I went to sleep many nights listening to the steady, relaxing drone of the old foghorn.  In the 1970's I realized that this sound many not last forever.  To me, sounds are an important part of our culture and some, like this, need to be preserved.  I regret that I did not have a tape recorder when as a child I stood and watched this huge steam train pull into town, with its bells ringing and steam whistling out all over.  It is a sound and sight I will never forget.  You can learn about  these sounds and many others dating back to the first year of their recording by the Library of Congress website:


Purchase CD
Order your copy of this unique sound experience
31 minute CD - New improved clarity!
$13.99 plus $2.99 shipping and handling.

Lake Michigan Foghorn Ringtone
20 second repeating Foghorn from the original Lake Michigan foghorn
You will get both the iphone M4R format and the MP3 format for Android, Blackberry and other mobile phones that use MP3 files as ringtones.Upon receipt of payment the Foghorn ringtones will be emailed to you complete with installation instructions.

Best Value!

Purchase The Old Foghorn CD and the unique foghorn ringtone together for only $14.99 plus $2.99 shipping and handling.



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Related links:
National Recording Preservation Board
SS Badger Car Ferry
City of Kewaunee

Kewaunee Wisconsin Lighthouse with catwalk 1980

Kewaunee Lighthoue today
Kewaunee Wisconsin Lighthouse 2008


All images, recordings, and text Copyright © 1972, 2008, 2011, 2015 James Lipsky. All rights reserved.