With the arrival of Spring comes a yearning to get out and explore. So last weekend was the perfect time to begin my Wisconsin adventure. I have made it my mission to travel around Wisconsin and discover places and things to do that are right in my backyard and write about them to promote Wisconsin travel. There are so many places, natural, cultural, historical, and downright plain interesting to see and do in my home state. I want to share my discoveries, some lessor known, and some well known, to those of you who may not be familiar with this great Midwestern state. Or perhaps you live here or have visited Wisconsin several times and want to find more things to do. No matter, there is always something to discover in Wisconsin!
My first stop came on a whim. After doing some researching I thought the North Point Lighthouse in Milwaukee would be a fun solo adventure. After getting on the website I discovered the lighthouse was set to reopen after the next day.
Located in Lake Park along the Lake Michigan shoreline on North Wahl Avenue, the North Point Lighthouse has a rich history of guiding Lake Michigan ships. The original lighthouse and keeper’s quarters was built in 1855. With the shoreline eroding, the government approved building a new lighthouse farther inland and in 1888 construction was complete on a new lighthouse and keeper’s quarters. A few years later Lake Park was designed by premier landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and along with that came the bridges that connect the 2 parts of Lake Park to each other just east of the lighthouse. The park in itself is a great place to enjoy the Lake Michigan shore from a high vantage point and the bridge with it’s lion statues at all 4 corners make a great photo op.
The lighthouse is open for tours on weekends from 1-4 pm. Weekday tours can be arranged for groups of 10 or more. Visit the lighthouse website for more info. I arrived at about 2:00 and was met at the desk by a guide. I paid my $8 for the tour and since there was another tour already going on, the guide asked if I wanted to go to the top of the lighthouse first. Of course I wanted to climb to the top!
There are 84 steps to the top. I climbed the narrow spiral staircase to the top level when you climb a ladder to make the final ascent to the very top. I had picked the perfect day because there were not many people in the lighthouse which made climbing the lighthouse easy and I could take my time at each level and observe the difference in structure since it is actually 3 separate structures. The 360 degree view from the top was well worth the admission price in itself. I saw views of the lake as far as I could see and the Milwaukee skyline. The top is quite small and I can imagine very hot in the heat of summer (another reason I was glad I went when I did!).
After taking pictures of the view, And 3 other people coming up to the top, I made my way back down. There was a tour already started so I just joined that group. Our guide took us around the renovated keeper’s quarters where there was displays showing us various artifacts and information about the lighthouse and the keeper’s who lived there and tended to the lighthouse. The guide was incredibly knowledgeable and the tour was informative and very interesting. What I found most interesting was the longest keeper was a woman, Georgia Stebbins (1881-1907). A little fun fact was that it was calculated that in her tenure as the keeper she climbed those steps to keep the light going an estimated 63,800 times. In her time women wore the full long dresses with petticoats that were the fashion at the time. Can you imagine climbing those stairs with the shoes and all that fabric?
I learned interesting facts about lighthouses, how they worked, the special “codes” so ships knew where the light was coming from. The museum is full of interesting things from the the history of the lighthouse and the ships that sailed Lake Michigan.
After the formal tour, I chatted a bit with the guide and he told me about the recent floor renovation after the original wood floor buckled after some heating/cooling issues. He was excited to be reopened after being closed since January for the renovations. I could tell he has a passion for the lighthouse and museum. It made the visit even better knowing that the people that are a part of it are excited to tell it’s story.
Whether you have a passion for all things lighthouses, or you are looking for interesting places to visit, Lake Park and the North Point Lighthouse make a perfect destination in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Please visit the website for hours and more information.
I’d like to know. Have you visited the North Point Lighthouse? There are many places around Wisconsin to visit for those interested in the history of Wisconsin lighthouses and Lake Michigan history. Where have you gone to find out about Lake Michigan history?