Whitefish Bay Talks: Mark Kuehn, North Point Lighthouse
November 15, 2016
Mark Kuehn, Curator and Board of Director of NPL, will give a talk about the history of the North Point Lighthouse at the Whitefish Bay Public Library, Dec. 5 @ 6:30pm. He will describe life at NPL as a keeper, including Georgia Stebbins, North Point’s longest serving keeper. Register here.
Lighthouse Ranked #2 as Best Picnic Spot
July 19, 2016
Tired of the usual picnic benches for your midsummer outdoor lunch? Looking to explore Milwaukee’s beautiful parks? Look no further, as the North Point Lighthouse is ranked #2 on OnMilwaukee’s 8 of Milwaukee’s Best Picnic Spots: East Side Edition. See the complete list[…]
TMJ4: A Milwaukee classic – North Point Lighthouse
June 13, 2016
TMJ4’s Sunday news featured the North Point Lighthouse. Watch as our curator, Mark Kuehn, gives a tour on how the Lighthouse changed and grew with its surrounding landscape. Read the full article on the TMJ4 website.
WUWM’s Lake Effect: North Point Lighthouse History Lives on through Those Tending It Today
May 9, 2016
North Point Lighthouse was featured today on WUWM’s Lake Effect – Listen to this 8-minute interview about the Lighthouse and how artists are busy creating along the Milwaukee Museum Mile for Art In The City: Plein Air MKE 2016. Learn more.
North Point Lighthouse Backdrop for a New Stormwater Management System
April 7, 2016
North Point Lighthouse will soon have an innovative green system called Regenerative Stormwater Conveyance (RSC) in our ravine. We are also getting rain gardens and a porous pavement driveway. We’re always looking for ways to preserve the Lighthouse and its surroundings for years to come! Learn more
Discovery World: Love Your Great Lakes
February 13, 2016
North Point Lighthouse enjoyed educating visitors on its history during Discovery World’s ‘Love Your Great Lakes’ event. Families enjoyed hands-on activities aimed at introducing our community’s connection to freshwater through local organizations that are instrumental in sustaining the Great Lakes.
On This Day, December 11
On this day (12/11) in 1998, the fish tug LINDA E. and her three-man crew disappeared off Port Washington. Little would be known about the tragedy until June of 2000 when the wreck was discovered by a Navy minesweeper. The Coast Guard eventually concluded that the 450-foot integrated tug/barge MICHIGAN/GREAT LAKES had run down the 40-foot fishing vessel.
For December on Lake Michigan, the weather was wonderful: temperature in the mid-forties, light winds from the southwest, calm seas and visibility of at least 7 miles. Early in the morning of December 11, 1998, the LINDA E. left Milwaukee with Captain Leif Weborg (55), longtime crewman Warren Olson (45), and Weborg’s son-in-law Scott Matta (32). After lifting and setting the nets, Weborg called Smith Brothers in Port Washington around 9:45 am. He told the foreman the LINDA E. was about twelve miles out with roughly 1,000 pounds of chub and was heading in. That was the last anyone heard.
When the LINDA E. failed to arrive, the foreman was not overly concerned. He figured they were just running late. But when Weborg’s wife called Smith Brothers around 8:00 that evening because she had heard nothing, the Coast Guard was contacted. The search was on for the LINDA E. and her crew. Boats from Milwaukee, Sheboygan and Sturgeon Bay were called out along with aircraft from Traverse City, Milwaukee and Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The Coast Guard called off its search two days later. Searchers had found absolutely nothing – no bodies, no debris, no oil slick – highly unusual in the case of a shipwreck.
The LINDA E. was built by Burger Boat Company of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, in 1937 for Howard and Edward LeClair. She was 40 feet long with a 13-foot beam and powered by a Kahlenberg oil engine. Originally named LECLAIR BROS., she sailed out of Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Weborg purchased the boat in 1960, changed the name to LINDA E., and replaced the Kahlenberg engine with a Cummins diesel.
Soon after its search ended, the Coast Guard opened an investigation into the disappearance. Investigators interviewed crews from several commercial vessels that may have been in the area around the time the LINDA E. went missing. The investigation soon focused on the integrated tug/barge MICHIGAN/GREAT LAKES, which was operated by a subsidiary of Amoco Oil (soon to be acquired by British Petroleum). The crew claimed they had not seen the LINDA E. and white paint marks found on the starboard bow of the barge did not conclusively match paint that may have been used on the LINDA E. So the investigation ground to a halt.
Not intended for extended search and recovery operations, the Coast Guard closed its investigation without making any conclusions. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) refused to investigate because the incident did not meet their criteria: at least six fatalities, vessel or aircraft weighing at least 100 tons, at least $500,000 total loss. Relatives of the crew were not satisfied.
After the government deployed substantial resources to find and recover a small plane flown by John F. Kennedy Jr. that disappeared over the ocean on a flight to Martha’s Vineyard, the families demanded an explanation. The Kennedy situation, like the disappearance of the LINDA E., failed to meet government search and recovery criteria. Mark Green, a freshman representative from Wisconsin’s eighth Congressional district, took up their cause.
Eventually the Navy allowed two ships on a recruiting tour of the Great Lakes to spend time searching for the LINDA E. On June 18, 2000, the minesweeper USS DEFENDER located the LINDA E. in 260 feet of water. A remotely operated vehicle was sent down to photograph the wreck and obtain paint samples. The sample matched the paint scrape on the barge.
The Coast Guard reopened its investigation and concluded the tug/barge collided with and sank the LINDA E. But how could this happen on a near perfect day with two vessels equipped with radar? The crew on the LIINDA E. may have set the autopilot and went below to clean their catch during the return trip. The crew of the tug/barge may not have seen the fishing boat because of glare.
Noting the tug/barge should have detected the LINDA E. on radar at least 30 minutes before the collision, the Coast Guard sent its report to the U.S. Attorney and the Ozaukee County District Attorney to determine whether criminal charges were warranted. There would be no criminal charges. However, the officer on duty at the time of the incident had his license suspended for two years.
Families of all three victims filed civil lawsuits against BP Amoco alleging wrongful death. The last case settled in June of 2002. The families decided not to raise the LINDA E. concluding it would be better to leave the men’s remains in the vessel at the bottom of Lake Michigan.
The loss of the LINDA E. and her crew marked the end of commercial fishing in Port Washington. The Smith Brothers property along the west slip was sold to developers. A Holiday Inn and condominiums now occupy the site. The only historic structure that remains is the Net Shed with its distinctive “Smith Bros. Fish” sign painted on the north façade.
It was particularly difficult for Milwaukee’s once thriving fishing community. Concentrated on Jones Island, the fishing industry in Milwaukee steadily declined throughout the twentieth century. When the city developed port facilities on Jones Island, the fish boats moved up the Kinnickinnic River to near the 1st Street Bridge. The loss of Captain Weborg left only two active fish tugs in Milwaukee: the D. & S (Alvin Anderson) and the JOLENE (Dan Anderson, Alvin’s son). Commercial fishing out of Milwaukee ended in August 2011 when the ALICIA RAE, piloted by Dan Anderson, left Milwaukee’s harbor for the last time – a victim of the quagga mussel.
Courtesy of: Wisconsin Marine Historical Society.
North Point Lighthouse is a backyard beacon in Milwaukee
Another great article written about the Lighthouse. Haven’t been here before? Jump at the chance to be a tourist in your own town!
“In the drive — literal and figurative — to explore new places, it’s easy to overlook gems in your own backyard. That was the case for me and North Point Lighthouse, a picturesque, red-and-white structure perched on a bluff along Lake Michigan in Milwaukee’s Lake Park.”
CBS Sunday Morning Spotlight:
The North Point Lighthouse
Thank you AMES Companies, Inc., for donating to the NPL Gardening Project
A special thanks to AMES Companies, Inc., for donating several sturdy, ergonomically-designed hand tools and rakes for the volunteer gardeners at the North Point Lighthouse.
The North Point Lighthouse gardening project is a collaborative effort of the SouthEast Wisconsin Master Gardener volunteers, volunteers from area garden clubs and members of the community who want to help beautify our lovely landmark.
The North Point Lighthouse was awarded Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence for earning great reviews from travelers!
John Scripp Receives the Frederick I. Olson Historic Preservation Award
The Board of Directors of the North Point Lighthouse congratulate John Scripp on receiving the Frederick I. Olson Historic Preservation Award at last night’s 62nd Annual Milwaukee County Historical Society Awards dinner.
The award recognizes John for his continued work in the restoration and revitalization of the North Point Lighthouse
Thanks for all your hard work and dedication, John.
North Point Lighthouse Acquires Mural from Wisconsin Historical Society
The North Point Lighthouse Friends are pleased to announce that a mural depicting Milwaukee in 1837 with it’s first lighthouse is going to be on loan from the Milwaukee Historical Society and be put on display at the North Point Lighthouse Museum. The mural, painted by William de Langreis in 1942, measures 9’ x 7’. The painting shows the location of Milwaukee’s first lighthouse, which stood at the end of what is now Wisconsin Avenue. Also shown in the painting is Lake Emily, a famous skating pond that is still in existence and located under the original Northwestern Mutual building. The home of Dr. Fairies, the first dentist in Milwaukee, can be seen on the right side in the gully. The gullies were filled in after the lighthouse was torn down.
Connecting the Past to the Present
Last year Mark Kuehn came across a vintage photo of a dapper young gentleman who posed in front of our lighthouse.
By the looks of the photo, it was taken around 1908. In 1911-1912 the tower was raised to it’s current height because the light was being obstructed by the height
of the trees.
The North Point Lighthouse has always been a special “PhotoOpp.” It’s a perfect backdrop for wedding and
Mark wanted to compare the “then and now” so he photo-imposed the 1909 image over a current photo of the lighthouse to see how much the grounds have changed.
The original bridge lions and the chains are still there. Mark wishes the gas lamp was still there. When they raised the tower they kept the original base and lantern room and added a new base.
Lighthouse Lens on Display at NPLH
The small 6th order Fresnel Lens on display at NPLH is on loan by way of the Milwaukee County Historical Society to NPLH Friends Inc.