Light the Lanterns

As night descends over the Door Peninsula, the lamp is lit at Eagle Bluff Lighthouse. And as its beam brightens the night sky, the voices of past keepers whisper in the dark, their stories echoing in the dark.

For two weekends in October, the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse Museum invites guests to step back in time and revel in the tales of the keepers through story, song and poetry.

Located in Peninsula State Park, Eagle Bluff Lighthouse welcomes guests to visit the historical building during the evenings of Oct. 3-4 and Oct. 17-18 from 6:30 – 8 pm.

The Northern Door Storytellers Guild will be in residence to share tales of the sea and lighthouse lore, perform traditional music, and recite legends in verse.

“We are so excited to continue the tradition of opening the lighthouse to guests after dark,” said Patti Podgers, curator/manager of Eagle Bluff Lighthouse Museum. “To offer this level of experience to our visitors and guests is a real treat. And the entertainment is all family friendly. The Storytellers are great fun and very talented.”

The Northern Door Storytellers Guild, established in 2007, evolved from a class at The Clearing Folk School in Ellison Bay.

“I was conducting a class based on over 40 years of storytelling experience. The first class consisted of six students who studied the many aspects of storytelling,” recalled Lloyd Michalsen, Guild founder. “As a result of this class, the Northern Storytellers Guild was formed with a mission to bring stories to the Door County community.”

The lamp at Eagle Bluff Lighthouse was first lit on Oct. 15, 1868 and has continued to serve as a navigational aid ever since.

Manned as a residential lighthouse for 58 years, the three keepers who lived in the Milwaukee City cream brick building were dedicated and diligent.

“It was a rigorous life,” recalled Podgers. “Our evening tours will recreate life in the 1800s, without the benefit of modern conveniences.”

The fully furnished lighthouse currently represents the era of lighthouse keeper William Duclon and his family, who lived and worked at Eagle Bluff for 35 years.

Julia Duclon, William’s wife, will be in residence at the lighthouse to share her experience as a lighthouse keeper’s wife. Other family members will also be on site to share what life was like from 1883 to 1918.

“When people visit our lighthouse, it’s not an empty lighthouse,” Podgers said. “It’s fully furnished. It represents the Duclon era because we have so much history – physical history, written history – of that 35-year time period that they lived there.”

Along with period music and entertainment, battery-operated lanterns will be placed throughout the lighthouse to give the impression of visiting it in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

“This is a family-friendly event. This is not scary. We are not haunted,” Podgers said. “But to experience the lighthouse in the evening is a very unique experience. It’s very special with the low lighting. The atmosphere is just incredible. It gives you such a feeling of stepping back in time.

“We have kept the light burning for 146 years as of Oct. 1,” Podgers said.

Eagle Bluff Lighthouse Museum is located on Shore Road. A state park sticker is required for entry. Admission to the lighthouse is: adults, $7; students 13 – 18, $4; youth 6 – 12, $2; and children 5 and under are free.

For additional information, call Patti Podgers at 920.495.7330. Warm clothing is recommended. Hot cider and cookies will be available for purchase. For information on becoming a storyteller, contact Ann Sheridan at 920.823.2068.