North Point Lighthouse

Artist painting North Point Lighthouse
dwm photo
It still stands tall.

A guide powerless to direct ships into port; replaced by technology, and now a testament to times when the bravest men could be afraid of the dark.

North Point Lighthouse shined its light over Lake Michigan for decades.  At its cultural peak, it was the center piece of Lake Park designed by the same architect who created New York's Central Park.

It is retired now, enjoying a new glory as one of Milwaukee's jewels by a sapphire sea.

The idea of life in a lighthouse and keeping the light sounds romantic.  It might have sounded romantic to the actual men and women who worked this vital jobs, until they had a few days under their belt.

16 boats sank off Milwaukee's shoreline since 1855.

Looking south toward Milwaukee from the lantern room
dwm photo
After the original lighthouse was moved back because of soil erosion near the 90 foot bluff; it lasted nearly 30 years before trees on land blocked the sailor's anxious eyes.

A 35 foot base was built in 1912 with the original 1868 structure was re-built on top, perching it 74 feet above the cliff.

The light showed the way to safety until 1994 when it was no longer needed.

Efforts began to restore and  preserve this piece of maritime history and it re-opened in 2007.

The restored Lighthouse is open on weekends.
dwm photo
15 keepers kept the light on starting in 1836 until 1975 when it was automated.  A woman, Georgia Stebbins, held the post the longest, 27 years.

Parts of her daily log on display in the lighthouse museum spotlights a meager existence as a civil servant in a remote location pleaded for supplies and support while carrying out her mission.

The refurbished light's home is beautiful.

It is again the jewel of Frederick Olmsted's park.
The last 13 steps are by ladder.
dwm photo
There are 84 steps to the top.

A series of curved staircases between landings, then a strong ladder straight into the now empty lantern room with its panoramic view of the lake, park, and city.

While it originally sent a strong light sweeping across the waves of Lake Michigan so boats could find their way; today it shines a clear beam to the past.

There are plenty of lighthouses around the Great Lakes and our nation's shoreline on either coast; but few offer the opportunity to climb the stairs.

This amazing place only came to my attention earlier this year,  As I grew up, it was a working facility and closed to the public, then sat until a determined community could spit polish and make it ship-shape for the rest of us to admire and appreciate.

Learn more about North Point Lighthouse here.