Wisconsin’s Door County peninsula is home to ocean-like beaches, charming small towns and … ghosts? A few of the iconic lighthouses that have lit the way for ships for decades are rumored to be inhabited by their keepers, who may have never left.
Below is a rundown on Door County’s three spooky lighthouses and how you and your crew can visit them. Book a Ghost Tour on the Door County Trolley with your group to dive even deeper into the area’s eerie past and hear intriguing stories of haunted lighthouses as well as sunken ships and other mysterious happenings that still haunt Door County to this day.
Sherwood Point Lighthouse
The Sherwood Point Lighthouse was built in 1883 at the Green Bay entrance to Sturgeon Bay. It was the last manned lighthouse on all of the Great Lakes until it was automated in 1983.
Early in the lighthouse’s history in 1889, keeper William Cochems married Minnie Hesh. She was later named an assistant keeper, one of the few women to hold such a post. In 1928, she suffered a stroke and died while getting out of bed in an upstairs bedroom. William stayed at Sherwood Point until he retired in 1933.
Residents and visitors have reported hearing noises at night, including voices and the clinking of teacups. Others have seen a “presence” on the staircase. Robert Cochems, a family descendant, took a photograph of the lighthouse in 1984 that appears to show a human form in one of the windows.
Could Minnie be haunting the lighthouse? While the Sherwood Point Lighthouse is closed to the public most of the year, you and your crew can take an exclusive tour during the Door County Lighthouse Festivals each spring and fall. You can also get a great view of it from Olde Stone Quarry County Park across the water any time of year.
Chambers Island Lighthouse
Your group will need to take a boat to Chambers Island Lighthouse, located on Chambers Island about 7 miles northwest of Fish Creek in Green Bay. Built in 1868, the first keeper was Lewis S. Williams who remained there until 1889.
The first haunting of the lighthouse occurred in the spring of 1976, when a caretaker reported a loud noise that sounded like footsteps coming down the tower’s staircase, continuing through the living room, kitchen, and ending with a “click” as the kitchen door closed. In the summer of 1979, during the renovation process, tools began disappearing and ending up in unlikely places. Visitors who use to be able to spend the night said their beds would sometimes shake all on their own, and many believe this was the ghost of keeper Williams.
Boat out with friends and family and bring a picnic to enjoy together on the 40-acre park around the lighthouse. Tours are available most weekends throughout the summer, but it’s a good idea to call ahead before your trip. With a museum now in the former caretaker’s office, you’ll learn fascinating history about the island and lighthouses in the area. And, you and your crew can find out for yourselves if anything spooky still lingers inside.
Another possibly haunted spot is the Pottawatomie Lighthouse on Rock Island off the northern tip of Door County. It was built in 1836 before Wisconsin was even a state and is Door County’s oldest lighthouse. The original keeper was David Corbin, who is buried on the island. The lighthouse has more recently been restored as a live-in museum to resemble what it was like in 1910. Guides live in the lighthouse from Memorial Day through Columbus Day each year, giving daily tours.
Strange noises have been noted in the lighthouse, as well as doors opening and closing on their own and things going “thump” out of nowhere. Some believe the spirit of keeper Corbin sometimes tromps around on the second floor.
To learn even more about lighthouse keepers, shipwrecks and other Door County history, visit the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay and Death’s Door Maritime Museum in Gills Rock. You and your group can also continue ghost hunting at these haunted hotels in Wisconsin.