Apostle Island Lights

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When a sailor today wants
to know where he is at on a
dark, storm-tossed night, he flips
on a little box called a GPS receiver
that quickly interacts with signals from satellites - and yields an almost instant fix.

We take this navigational aid for granted, concerned only that our batteries will last.

So who needs a lighthouse today?

Sand light

Sand Island Light

"I'm the keeper of the light
on Michigan Island,
a candle in the night for
the steamboat trade,
with an eye on the wick,
and a whistle to the ships
that are bound for the bay
or running for a lee.
"

                                     Warren Nelson

Devils light

Devils Island Light

Over the years, I've taken many guests to "Riding The Wind" at the Big Top Chautauqua.

As one of those who has trouble keeping a tear out of the eye when Warren starts the song "Keeper of the Light," I find it interesting to see what that song means to those who are hearing it for the first time.

Lighthouses have a great attraction us. We may not need them for navigation, but we do need them for insights into our history, and as reminders of our heritage.

Lighthouses simply have a romantic appeal.

Outer light

Outer Island Light

Of the six Apostle Island lighthouses, Raspberry Island Light is the most popular to visit, mostly because it has a great dock, a central location, and is a scheduled stop of the cruise boats.

Of course a boat is needed to gain access to any of the Apostle island lights. But by boat - if it is a sail boat with even modest draft - just getting close enough to several of the lights to see and visit is a chore of "anchor out/pray the wind doesn't shift/take the dingy in."

In our more "romantic" moments, more than a few of us would jump at the chance to stay at a lighthouse. You know, like for a weekend with someone special. None of the Apostle Island lighthouses offer that kind of thing. Which is a good thing considering most of us are fond of real bathrooms instead of outhouses.

Even in our songs we give a romantic tone to what it was like to be a lighthouse keeper - or the wife of a lighthouse keeper. The reality is that it was a lonely, and often dangerous life.

More lighthouse sites on the WWW.

* In 1998 PBS started a very well done series called Legendary Lighthouses and published a bunch of neat stuff, including a selection of photos, on their site.
Copyright 1998 - 2013   by Lew Miller, DBA Marlew Publishing.
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