The light of the Wisconsin Eagle Bluff Lighthouse has been burning brightly for Wisconsin residents, visitors and sailors for over 140 years. There were so many ship wrecks in the Great Lakes that the government was forced to build 344 lighthouses along those rocky and treacherous shores.
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Wisconsin became an independent territory in 1836 and by 1848 it claimed its statehood. The actual population in the early 1800s was relatively small but by 1860 nine million people would call Door County peninsula home. Driven by word of mouth about the fertile soil and the ability to homestead, many pioneers were drawn to the area.
The long trip over uncharted lands was not easy for the homestead pioneers. With the influx of the homesteaders; the need for supplies also grew and the only way for them to trade for goods was via the Great Lakes. The crossing would prove deadly for many of them.
The Eagle Bluff Lighthouse was the last lighthouse to be built in 1868. The first keeper of the light was Henry Stanley, he served for 13 years. The second keeper was William Ducion, he served for 35 years. He and his wife raised seven boys in the light house. The lighthouse and the museum are filled with some of their original furniture, books and clothing. The third and last keeper of the light was Peter Coughlin, he served until 1926 when the lighthouse became automated and the keepers’ job was no longer necessary. The Eagle Bluff Lighthouse was switched to solar power in 1985 – a long way from the lard oil which it originally burned.
Oversight of the lighthouse has passed from the United States Government to the Peninsula State Park and is now run by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. In 1960 the Door County Historical Society asked if they could restore the lighthouse. After four years it was finally opened to the public.
The Wisconsin Eagle Bluff Lighthouse was built with the tall tower on a seventy six foot tall bluff overlooking the waters of Green Bay. The lighthouse and keepers building sit on four acres of land and are open to the public. The museum and lighthouse today are run by the Peninsula State Park.