Sherwood Point Lighthouse
Nasewaupee, WI 54235
Perched along the southern side of the canal, Sherwood Point Lighthouse boasts a rich nautical history. While the grounds are off limits to civilians, boaters can catch a glimpse of the unique lighthouse.
While the lighthouse is usually closed off, visitors have the opportunity to check out the grounds, the keeper’s house, and the fog house during the Door County Maritime Museum’s Annual Lighthouse Walk.
While the logging industry helped the economy in Sturgeon Bay initially, it was short lived due to extensive clear-cutting. It was later replaced with shipbuilding. Sherwood Point Lighthouse’s history begins with the growth of popularity of Sturgeon Bay as a port.
Sturgeon Bay was a popular warm weather port, but it wasn’t able to have a long port season like Jacksonport or Baileys Harbor. Green Bay iced over in the winter, in contrast to the Lake Michigan waters, which were almost always free of ice. So the Sturgeon Bay Canal was built, beginning the life of the lighthouse.
Sherwood Point Lighthouse History
1872: Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan Ship Canal and Harbor Company was formed, and work on the canal began.
1881: Because of increased nautical traffic, Congress appropriates $12,000 for the construction of a lighthouse to assist mariners entering Sturgeon Bay. The Lighthouse Board selected a site at Sherwood Point.
1883: While the lighthouse was slated to be built in 1882 complications regarding land purchasing delayed the build. Construction began in May and was completed in September. Henry Stanley, who was transferred from Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, was the first keeper.
1884: Minnie Hesh, Henry’s wife’s niece, arrives at Sherwood Point Lighthouse for a visit. Minnie was invited to live their after her mother passed away. She assisted Henry in many duties around the lighthouse.
1889: Minnie marries businessman, William Cochems, and moves out of the lighthouse. They continued to visit often.
1894: William goes bankrupt after bad business deal. He and Minnie move back to the lighthouse and William is hired as Henry’s assistant.
1895: Henry passes away and William takes over as lighthouse keeper.
1898: A new lens was delivered to the lighthouse after the many technical difficulties of the first one. The light operated without incident after it was installed.
1928: Minnie passes away.
1933: William retires. Conrad Stram becomes the new keeper.
1935-1936: New technologies started to be implemented at Sherwood Point Lighthouse. This included installation of electricity and running water, as well as a radio tower and more advanced lightship with a fog system were built. Sherwood Point Lighthouse was the only lighthouse in the county to have a radio broadcasting facility.
1939: The U.S. Coast Guard absorbed the Lighthouse Bureau, and civilian keepers were invited to either stay on as civilian keepers or join the Coast Guard. Stram joined the Coast Guard.
1970s: The Coast Guard continued to operate the lighthouse, but decreasing budgets and improved electronic navigational aids forces the Coast Guard to automate many of the Great Lakes lights and use the manpower elsewhere.
1983: 100 years after it began operating, the Coast Guard fully automated the Sherwood Point Lighthouse.
Today: The grounds are off-limits to the public, with the lighthouse quarters being utilized by the U.S. Coast Guard for rest and recreation.
Sherwood Point Lighthouse Interesting Facts
- Sherwood Point Lighthouse is the only lighthouse in Door County to be made from red brick. Others used the limestone brick that is native to the area.
- It is both the last Door County lighthouse to be automated and the last manned lighthouse on the Great Lakes.
- Sherwood Point Lighthouse used a Fourth Order Fresnel Lens. The new light more than doubled the distance the light could be seen. While the light was more powerful, it was also a more complicated mechanism. Because of its complicated nature, it wasn’t long before significant problems with the light developed.
- After the new lens broke down, Minnie would operate the lens by hand.