Lighthouse keeper's log returned to Apostle Islands after 50 years

By KBJR News 1

November 15, 2013 Updated Nov 15, 2013 at 11:42 PM CDT

Bayfield, WI (NNCNOW.com) - Plenty of historical pieces call the Apostle Islands Visitor Center their home and it's usually just the curious who walk through the doors, but on a rare day in September, a visitor walked through the doors holding a piece of history and a story to tell.

"When I saw in the newspaper that they were going to turn Michigan Island into a museum, I says Joseph, I says, we've got to get that book back up there," said Jackie Brant.

Brant of Potosi, Wisconsin has been keeping the Michigan lighthouse log book safe for over 40 years.

Her father, Robert Muller, picked up the book on a hunting trip to Michigan Island in the late 50s to keep it safe.

His intent was to return the book when a park was established for the islands. However, Jackie's father never made it back to return the log book. But on one fateful day in September, she and her husband came into the visitor center to donate a package.

"We opened up the package to find an old log book from one of the lighthouse stations and it was a real surprise. We have complete logs from several of the stations but there are several of the stations that we really don't have a lot from," said Neil Howk, an interpreter and educator at the visitor center.

Now that the log book has been returned, there is plenty we can learn about the daily life of the lighthouse keeper that lived on Michigan Island.

The first entry in the log book dates back to 1914 and tells the story of a famous lighthouse keeper on the islands, Ed Lane, who spent the 37 years as keeper on Michigan Island which is a record for lighthouse keepers.

Park officials are learning about day to day life and even unusual stories that took place on the island.

"We're finding log book entries referring to saving people in small boats who were in trouble off of Michigan Island," said Howk.

Plans are in the works for a restoration of the lighthouse on Michigan Island.

Jackie Brant says she plans to attend the grand opening sometime in 2014. She says she knows returning the book to its home is something that would have made her father proud.

"My dad knew it was important and that's what he would have wanted, and I was very emotional because I did what he wanted."

The log book has been digitized and is in the process of being transcribed. Portions of it will be on display at Michigan Island lighthouse when the restoration is complete.

Bryce Henry