On the final day of our Door County weekend celebrating Christine’s birthday, we took a Trolley ride to visit several Door County lighthouses! John was our trolley driver. He was a native of the area having lived there his whole life. This actually made him the ideal tour guide as he knew something about everywhere in the county!
Wanting us to have the best experience possible, John would watch which docent was on duty at each of our stops. He knew which were more experienced and would teach us a lot… …and which were able to do little more than read the signs to us. He handled their strengths and weaknesses by adjusting our tour accordingly. For example, at Eagle Bluff he split the tour and explanation between the docent and himself — each taking a floor of the building.My mother loves antiques. To her (and others that also love them), I’d recommend this tour. Each house was filled with either the actual possessions of the former lighthouse keepers or at least things from that period.
Don’t let the bedbugs bite!
I hadn’t realized that “sleep tight” came from the use of string beds. To get a firmer mattress one would wind the strings to tighten them,I appreciated the little wooden mousetrap in the kitchen!
This next picture was taken at the bottom of the stairway — looking up at the light room. Lighthouse keeping was a prestigious and well-respected position. One former keeper at Eagle Bluff was there with his wife and seven children. One rule from the government was that the rooms had to be painted each year. While being renovated they found that there were almost twice as many layers of paint as necessary in some rooms! They asked the youngest son of the lighthouse keeper why this could be. He sheepishly said: When my brothers or I got in trouble we’d be told to paint a room…
We passed many wonderful views as the trolley took us from stop to stop. We spent time at both the bay side of Door County and the lake side.Our next stop was at the Range Lights. Their story actually starts with the Old Bailey’s Harbor Birdcage Lighthouse. The “Birdcage” lighthouse was a failure. It actually brought in ships to their demise instead of saving them from the shallows! They quickly retired that lighthouse and replaced it with the Range Lights.
The ships had to follow a straight course to be safe. The Range Lights accomplished this. There are two lights instead of a single one. The red light was built right at the shoreline. 500 feet back — but 19 feet higher — they placed the white lighthouse. Ships would navigate until the white light was directly above the red light and this would show that they were on the safe course.What made lighthouses such powerful tools was the Fresnel lens. French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel found that more light traveled along a plane when the lens had the correct angles. This allows the upper range light to be seen for several miles with (literally) a 100 watt bulb!
Old carpet was removed during renovations of this lighthouse. They found that newspaper had been used as carpet padding. Because of the interesting and historic stories, they chose to frame the newspapers. And because my father was a journalist at the Milwaukee Journal for 29 years, you get to see them, too! 🙂
Here are the plans of the upper range light at Bailey’s Harbor: Christine and I climbed to the Lightroom and this is the view down towards the lower range light and the bay.
The next stop on our trolley ride was at Cana Island. A causeway was made so that one could walk to the island. Here we are at the foot of the causeway: As you see in the next picture — it is now 9 inches under water! Apparently the water rises and lowers in cycles and this had been expected. People NOT with the trolley tour walked across the causeway. We were pulled across in a wagon. Essentially it was a hay-ride without the hay! Cana Island may be Wisconsin’s most beautiful lighthouse.
See the railing the top? Can you believe that Christine and I went up there? Christine and I walked up the 97 steps of the lighthouse. The view was breathtaking! (And I’m not just saying this because I’m scared of heights.)
All good adventures must come to an end… …so a picture of the outhouse. Christine found the path to a secret spot on the shoreline where there were thousands and thousands of shells. We had to get some for the boys!
That was the last lighthouse on the trolley tour. And that was our final day in Door County. A few final pictures…
When Christine was a kid she had a pet goat named Lovey. (A kid with a kid? There’s a joke there somewhere but I won’t bother looking for it.)
In Sister’s Bay there is a restaurant — Al Johnson’s — that is known for its goats! They actually have grass growing on the roof and goats are there to graze and trim it!
And we had to look in the gift shop: The final pictures were taken after we returned home. We found a metal goat yard sculpture thingee at a shop. As a child, Christine had Lovey. Now as an adult, she has her new goat — Smitten. Lastly, Christine has a bracelet with charms commemorating many milestones in her life. It now has a lighthouse charm on it.