The original Keepers Quarters now serves as the museum gallery. We have several exhibits and artifacts that depict the life of a keeper and maritime history on the Great Lakes.
Captain Roger F. Erdmann • USCG: The Unsung Hero of North Point Lighthouse
An exhibit that chronicles the life and career of Captain Roger F. Erdmann,
who lived at the North Point Lighthouse from 1957-1961.
North Point Lighthouse is a Blue Star Museum. All active duty and retired military personnel are admitted at no charge.
Milwaukee’s Melting Pot
A new exhibit at the North Point Lighthouse Museum.
The immigrants who settled Wisconsin. Who they were. Why they came.
Between 1836 and 1850, Wisconsin’s population increased from a mere 11,000 in 1836 to over 305,000 by 1850. Most arrived by ship and the North Point Lighthouse was the first thing they saw when they arrived in Milwaukee. Discover the history of the immigrants who settled Milwaukee. Read about who they were and why they came. See some of the luggage that held the worldly possessions of an immigrant from Austria. Share stories about your ancestors about where they came from and when they came to America.
Lost and Found: Original Lighthouse Ledgers
These lighthouse keeper’s ledgers dating from 1873 have returned to the North Point Lighthouse Museum after a 54-year absence. The daughters of the late Roger Erdmann, a Captain in the USCG, found them in the attic of his home in Durham, Maine last summer. Capt. Erdmann was transferred to Milwaukee in 1959 and served as the District Commander until 1961. He was my uncle. A native of Port Washington, WI, he joined the Coast Guard in 1939. He proudly served in WWII, The Korean War and the Vietnam War. He retired in the 1970’s.
A special thank you to my cousins, Carole, Greg, Barb and Paula for the safe return of these wonderful pieces of history and, had they not lived at NP, I would not be telling this story and would not have become the Curator. The ledgers are now on display at the NPLH Museum. Stop by and see them. We are taking donations to restore the bindings of the books so they last another 142 years.
The Tug Roger
This classic tugboat was built in 1913 by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company as the Conrad Starke for the Milwaukee Tug Boat Line. In 1945 she was sold to Clark’s Super Gas Company, and the following year she was renamed, Roger. In 1947 she was sold to Petco Corp. The Great Lakes Towing Company of Cleveland, OH acquired the Roger in 1953. She was scrapped in 1973. My great uncle, William (Bill) Kuehn made this model in 1957 from a photograph. The model is scratch built except for the figures of the deck hands, which were store bought. Kuehn was born in 1888 in Milwaukee and grew up across the river from the Wolf & Davidson shipyard. Wolf & Davidson was Milwaukee’s largest shipyard. It occupied eleven acres along the Kinnickinnic River at Washington Street. As a boy Bill watched them build the schooners and tugs. He built several boat models during his life. Three of them are on display at the North Point Lighthouse Museum.
Other exhibits and artifacts at the Lighthouse museum:
- A timeline of photos that depict the development of the North Point Light Station over the past 150 years;
- The last Fresnel Lens, which was in the light when it was decommissioned in 1994. It sits atop a turntable mounted in front of a background of the actual Lake vistas from the space that housed the lens – the Lantern Room.
- A smaller Fresnel lens from the first lighthouse that served Milwaukee’s Harbor from a downtown Milwaukee site dating from 1838.
- A panel describing how a Fresnel Lens works, the genius of how they physically projected the light from a simple oil lamp more than 20 miles into the Lake night.
- Panels that tell the story of some of the early Keepers of Milwaukee’s lights; beginning with Eli Bates (who kept the original Milwaukee Lighthouse from 1838) through the first keeper of the Light brought to North Point in 1855; North Point’s longest serving keeper, Georgia Stebbins, to Reynold Johnson, the last US Lighthouse Service Keeper before lighthouses became staffed by the United States Coast Guard.
- A table belonging to Georgia Stebbins (provided by her descendants) which actually sat in the lighthouse parlor overlooking the Lake.
- A replica of US Lighthouse Service Keeper’s uniform.
- The 800 lb. brass Fog Bell that perched on caissons at the mouth of the “straight cut” into Milwaukee’s Harbor in 1893 to guide pre-instrument sailors.
- Artifacts off the wreck of the Car Ferry Milwaukee which sank on October 22, 1929, taking 55 lives.
- The binnacle off the wreck of the SS Wisconsin which sank on October 29, 1929.
- A model of the Lucia S. Simpson, an 1875 3-masted schooner typical of the craft that served the Great Lakes in the late 1800s.
- Several display cabinets displaying finer artifacts and exhibits, including:
- An oak transportable lending library with the actual books which was taken by tenders from the Milwaukee Light House Depot to remote lighthouses on the Lake at the turn of the 18th to19th Century;
- Georgia Stebbins’ personal scrapbook, which she started in 1866 and kept over her tenure which discloses much about an early Keeper’s life.
- Brass pitchers, funnels and trays stamped “US Lighthouse Service” which were used by early keepers to carefully manage the
mineral oil originally lit the North Point Light.
- The ship’s wheel,compass and port light off the wreck of the 3-masted schooner Grace A. Channon which sank in 1877.
- An exhibit which tells the story of the “Great Crib Disaster” of 1893 in which 15 miners working on a water intake tunnel perished.