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Apostle Islands Historic Preservation Conservancy

Established in 2006, the AIHPC is a community-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the many historic properties and cultural landscapes in the Apostle Islands region on northern Wisconsin.  Beginning with a core group of families who hold longstanding property interests in historically-significant buildings on Sand and Rocky Islands, in some cases dating from the late 1800′s, the Conservancy represents a wide range of interests throughout the Chequamegon Peninsula.

 

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Today in Chequamegon history: bad report card for the Outer Island keeper.

From the report of District Inspector W.P. McCann, August 24, 1875:

"Outer Island. - In bad condition as to keeper's duties. The tender arrived within 5 miles of the station at 8 A.M. in a fog and calm. The keeper reported having sounded the fog signal at 9 A.M., but we still did not hear it until 11:20 A.M. and then very faintly, as a blast of a second or two duration, at intervals of a minute. We arrived at noon. Chips of wood found wedged between cap whistle and disk, obstructing the passage of steam. They were removed, when a full and distinct blast of 6 seconds was obtained at proper intervals. Water was found too low in the boiler.


"The 1st assistant has some little knowledge of the machinery, the principal much less and the 2nd assistant none at all. The illuminating apparatus in very bad order and neglected. Lens, lamp, and burners _____. The revolving machinery broken. I learned from the acting keepers that (the keeper) absented himself from the station much of his time, and the inspector disclosed the fact that he was inattentive and incompetent when present. A new boat was furnished this station, and it was soon after ran upon rocks and sunk, requiring expensive repairs. The apparatus and machinery is too valuable to entrust to such worthless keepers. The removal of (Keeper O.K.) Hall is recommended."

There's no question that Orator K. Hall, first keeper of the Outer Island light, was in far above his head. He had absolutely no experience in tending a lighthouse when he showed up for the job the previous autumn, and even had to be shown how to light the lamp. In that era, keeper positions were distributed as political plums, and it's pretty safe to guess that's how Hall got where he did. This inspection report marked the end of the line for him, though and a few months later he was gone, replaced by Henry Kuchli, who actually knew what he was doing.

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Collected and edited by Bob Mackreth for the Apostle Islands Historic Preservation Conservancy, a community-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the historic heritage of the Apostle Islands region of northern Wisconsin.

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