Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Of Lighthouses and Fiction
By Andrea Boeshaar
About a decade ago, I wrote a novella for Barbour Publishing that was included in the collections Keepers of the Light and Lighthouse Brides. My story has been re-released in a new collection that released last fall. The setting is Milwaukee’s North Point Light. At the time I wrote “Beacon in the Storm,” the Coastguard owned the lighthouse and it was in sorry need of repair. They wouldn’t allow me to tour it (even though the officer I spoke with was in possession of the key) because he couldn't guarantee my safety. Even so, I fell in love with the old lighthouse and called it “my lighthouse.”
Built in 1851, the lighthouse opened for business in 1855. In the 1870s, erosion of the yard threatened the structure so the present one was built in 1886. Lake Park was constructed in 1893 and by 1900 the trees in the park threatened the lighthouse’s ability to guide ships safely into Milwaukee’s harbor. By 1912 the old tower was raised and a taller, more effective one (present tower) built. In 1994 the North Point Light was taken out of service.
I grew up hearing the foghorn that came from the light on the breakwater, except as a child I thought it came from the North Point Light. The deep bass warning call made it impossible for me to go to sleep at night. I’d always imagine the keepers of the light being very busy making sure ships that got lost in the fog didn’t run aground or slam into the breakwater.
Today Milwaukee County and North Point Lighthouse Friends run the lighthouse. It’s open for tours and weddings and it touts a museum with a Blue Star status. But I still call it “my lighthouse.”
Are you a lighthouse-lover? Did you tour any lighthouses lately and, if so, which ones?