The Ridges Sanctuary

Preservation, Education, and Research

From the Keeper’s Desk


Welcome to our blog, "From the Keeper's Desk".

As many of you know, the Baileys Harbor Range Lights live at the epicenter of The Ridges Sanctuary. If it weren't for the Range Lights, there wouldn't be a sanctuary. Since 1869, these buildings have stood tall telling us a story that needs to be shared. From a navigational aid, to the keeper's residence, a Lutheran Parsonage, private residence, Ridges Naturalists housing, Sanctuary Offices, and finally to a restored museum, the Baileys Harbor Range Lights have been a shining example of Baileys Harbor's incredible cultural history.

In this blog, you'll find restoration updates, stories published in national publications, and updates from our very own Range Light Keeper, Henry Gattie, AKA Ed Miller! Follow along for updates as we navigate through the new era of Range Lights.


Posted September 30th, 2021

Featured on Wisconsin Public Radio: A blossoming relationship between Ed Miller and Norman Gilliland

A note from the Range Light Keeper - Ed Miller : "Sandy and I have been and are avid listeners of Wisconsin Public Radio. I got to know Norman through the WPR Midday quiz. I listened most weekdays for the question and if I thought I had a good answer I would call it in. It got to the point where the folks answering the phone recognized me when I called in with my answer. There was a time when I missed calling in for a few days because things got busy elsewhere and Ramona was one of the people answering the phone. She wondered where I had been and I told her I was working at lighthouses. She mentioned it to Norman and he thought it would be interesting to have Rob Ferrett do a Central Time episode on lighthouse keepers. The episode aired Sept 7, 2016. Below is a link to it. In 2017 Norman was hosting an old time radio program at the Door County Auditorium. When I found out they were going to be in Door County I asked beforehand if they were interested in visiting The Ridges and Range Lights. We arranged to do so. We went to the program the evening before and thoroughly enjoyed it. They visited The Ridges and Range Lights on July 23, 2017 and have been stopping at The Ridges ever since then any time they are up here".

Who is Norman Gilliland?

Norman Gilliland is a writer, producer, and host at Wisconsin Public Radio. He hosts classical music broadcasts, produces the interview program “University of the Air,” and reads for “Chapter A Day.”

Host Norman Gilliland provides listeners with a wide variety of classical music, presents a story from "Grace Notes," and holds the popular "Midday Quiz." Musicians traveling through Wisconsin often stop by the studio for live performances, discussions about their most recent works, and upcoming shows.

Norman has degrees in English and broadcasting. He began hosting classical music broadcasts in the mid-1970s and, with few exceptions, has been on the air each weekday since 1977. His non-musical productions range from "Back from the Shadows Again: A Firesign Theater Retrospective" to "Children's Pictures at an Exhibition: Art from Chernobyl" and "Beowulf: The Complete Story -- A Drama" produced in 2006.

Since 1990 Gilliland has been the narrator for the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra's popular summer series, "Concerts on the Square." In the fall of 1999, his historical novel "Sand Mansions" was read on WPR's long-running weekday program "Chapter A Day".

Gilliland also co-produces the weekly WPR program "University of the Air" with Prof. Emily Auerbach and hosts WPR's popular "Old Time Radio Drama" heard on the Ideas Network on Saturday and Sunday evenings from 8pm-11pm. In his spare time, Gilliland produces the biographical modules "Grace Notes" for weekday broadcast.

"The Midday" can be heard weekdays on the NPR News & Music Network  and on WPR's All Classical Network from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. "Grace Notes" air around 11:30 a.m. while interviews and the "Midday Quiz" usually start at Noon

Bringing Wisconsin Lighthouses, And Their Keepers, Back To Life

By Rob Ferrett

Air Date:

  • Wednesday, September 7, 2016, 4:15pm
  • Wednesday, September 7, 2016, 6:15pm

Photo provided by Ed Miller

Listen: Bringing Wisconsin Lighthouses, And Their Keepers, Back To Life | Wisconsin Public Radio (

A Wisconsin man shares the history of Lake Michigan lighthouses--and his reenactments of two of the state's historical lighthouse keepers at the Baileys Harbor Range Lights and the at Eagle Bluff Lighthouse .


Rob Ferrett


Ed Miller


Rob Ferrett

Wisconsin Public Radio, © Copyright 2021, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Educational Communications Board.

Recently Norman visited and produced another story about the Baileys Harbor Range Lights, see below:

Baileys Harbor Range Lights Guide Boats To Safety | Wisconsin Life

Baileys Harbor Range Lights Guide Boats To Safety

By Norman Gilliland and Steve Gotcher | August 12, 2021

Baileys Harbor Upper Range Light in Door County. The rear lighthouse housed the keeper's quarters. (Photo by Ed Miller)

Listen Online: Baileys Harbor Range Lights Guide Boats To Safety | Wisconsin Life


In 1869, when the range lights were built, Baileys Harbor was considered the only safe harbor north of Milwaukee. The town was a busy logging center, shipping cordwood, cedar post poles, and hemlock bark to other Great Lakes ports.

Ed Miller, a volunteer guide at the Ridges Sanctuary in Baileys Harbor, shows people through the range lights. He wears the visored cap and double-breasted navy blue coat that were the garb of lighthouse keepers.

The last keeper here was Henry Gattie. He was here 27 years — as long as his predecessors combined,” Miller said. “When Henry arrived in Baileys Harbor, he was single. He was considered a very eligible bachelor because he had a pay of about $600 a year, and he came with a house. So all the single girls in Baileys Harbor were interested in Henry.”

Henry Gattie, the last Baileys Harbor range lights keeper. (Photo by Easson Studio)

As for Gattie, he did tie the knot and celebrated in a typical Wisconson way.

There’s a picture we have of Henry with about eight other gentlemen there, all holding a mug of beer,” Miller said. “Henry’s in his lighthouse keeper’s uniform and the waiters in a white uniform. They all have full mugs of beer and the label on the bottle the waiter is serving is Miller Beer. So it was Miller time in 1901?”

Some things never change.

Restorations of the lighthouse have turned up some surprises.  Under the parlor floor newspapers from 1944 and 1945, with screaming headlines and big photos of the late Franklin D. Roosevelt and his successor, Harry Truman, and Lauren Bacall.

We’re going to head up the stairs that the lighthouse keeper would have went up many times starting in the evening, throughout the night, and the following morning,” Miller said as he gives a tour. “First, he would light the lamp right before dusk. Then, he would go up several times to adjust and trim the wick because if he didn’t adjust the wick, he got a smoky flame which sooted up his lens and reduced the light output of the lens. So lighthouse keepers got the nickname ‘wickies’ because they were always adjusting the wick. Then in the morning, he would extinguish the light right after the sun came up. By 10 o’clock, he had to have everything all polished up and ready to go for the next evening.”

Now we get to the heart of the matter, a bright object about the size of a snare drum.

“In the lantern room we’re looking down the range light boardwalk at the front range light. The original lens in the range light was the fifth-order Fresnel lens. It was such that it cast the light out about six or seven miles out over the water,” Miller said. “Today, we have a modern lens. It’s still lit and it’s an active aid to navigation. We’re back on the lighthouse list of navigation charts as a useful lighthouse.”

Historic Baileys Harbor Upper (Rear) and Lower (Front) Range Lights in Door County. (Photo by Ed Miller)

To get to the lower part of the range lights, you follow a 950-foot boardwalk toward the lake along the way until the autumn snowfalls. You’ll see tamarack, wood lilies, yellow lady slippers, blue flag iris, and one to two shoots of asparagus gone wild. In 1930, the lamps were replaced by automated electric lights, and the keepers became a thing of the past. Although solitude was never an issue at the range lights of Baileys Harbor, they were and are serious business on a lake that has swallowed boats for as long as there have been boats.


Norman Gilliland is a writer, producer, and host at Wisconsin Public Radio. He hosts classical music broadcasts, produces the interview program “University of the Air,” and reads for “Chapter A Day.”


Steve Gotcher is a technical director and producer with Wisconsin Public Radio.

Below is a gallery of photos from Norman and his wife Amanda's visits


The US Lighthouse Society Awards Grant to The Ridges Sanctuary

The United States Lighthouse Society (USLHS), a nonprofit historical and educational organization in Hansville, Washington, has awarded a $1,000 Emergency Relief Grant to The Ridges Sanctuary to help offset the business cost of operating the Baileys Harbor Range Lights during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The grant will be used to offset insurance, maintenance and utility costs associated with operating the Baileys Harbor Range Lights.  Of the 35 organizations selected to receive the USLHS grant, only two were in Wisconsin.  The other recipient was the Northpoint Lighthouse Friends group in Milwaukee.


From the Keeper's Desk - May 11th, 2021


We want to share pictures of the floor refinishing project. It is amazing how complete the rooms look now that the floors look so good.

Taylor of Taylor’s Hardwood Floors completed the refinishing of the floors and steps in the Range Light Friday May 7.  He did a superb job. And the sanding of the floors was dust free. He has great dust control on his equipment. He repaired holes in the maple flooring using maple floor boards salvaged from the bathroom before the subfloor was repaired to allow for installation of tile flooring. The finished job looks wonderful. It transformed the lighthouse!

It is interesting how the stair spindles are secured to the steps. To make it easier to refinish some of the hard to reach bull nose pieces on the side of the steps Taylor removed them. As one of the pictures below illustrate the carpenters who installed the stairs put a dovetail on the bottom of the spindle and cut a matching dovetail in the end of each step. The end bull nose piece hides that feature.

Sandy and I still need to paint the risers on the stairways and after that is done we will install stair tread protectors. Photos below to show what they look like. The risers will be painted grey. We also have some commercial floor mats to help protect the newly refinished floors we will put at the entrances, in the hallway and in the rooms on the first floor. Eventually we would like to find some large braided rugs to put on the floors for a more homey look while protecting the floors. There are braided rugs on the floors at Eagle Bluff Lighthouse and they add a nice touch to the rooms.

We still have some baseboard to finish painting. Somewhere along the line we will need to install base shoe moulding. What was used in the lighthouse was more like a quarter round moulding.

Looking forward to be able to show everyone in person how great it looks.

Still on the list to be done soon is repairing and painting the oil house roof red, repairing the oil house door, mortar repair on the oil house, installing a new foundation under the privy and restoration work on the inside and outside of the privy. Sidewalks need to be replaced in various areas around the lighthouse. Some work needs to be done on the foundation parging.

Thanks to Eric Peil for keeping the restoration work moving along and Taylor for getting the floors and steps done in time for the seasonal opening of the lighthouse.

Sandy and Ed



From the Keeper's Desk - Sunday, June 2nd, 2019


Here are some photos of the Rear (Upper) Range Light interior and how it looks after Sandy and I got it set up for tours last Friday and Saturday. It looks great with the new plaster work and paint. Denny Peil did a fantastic job restoring all the windows. You might wonder how did we get to this point. There were some issues with the plaster and all of it was eventually removed from the walls and ceilings. Blueboard (a type of sheetrock) was installed over the lath once all the plaster was removed and a layer of plaster was put on the blueboard. Once that was done Sherrill Eichler, Dave Zuhlke, Dan Niesen, Sandy and I primed and painted the first floor bedroom, parlor and dining room. Still a few thing to finish. A shelf has to go up over Henry’s desk and the grill needs to be painted and installed back on the dining room ceiling. We have a photo of Henry and Eve that Ann had printed that needs to go in an oval frame above the settee. Larry and Cynthia Crock are donating a beautiful lamp that will go above the table next to the settee. That is why the lamp that was on the table next to the settee is now on the dining room table.

The interpretative panels that Sandy designed were produced by Pete Schuster and arrived last Thursday. This will enable tour guides to help visitors get a good understanding of life at the Range Light as they tour the lighthouse.

The outside looks great as it is getting close to being done. Some areas need a second coat of paint. Peil Construction had lots of the guys working on it last week. I need some better photos of the outside, hopefully with the scaffolding gone.

More to come later to show the work that lead up to where we are now. I wanted to get this out now so tour guides know what to expect.


June 1, 2019 - looking into the dining room from the kitchen steps

June 1 – dining room

June 1 – dining room

June 1 – dining room

June 1 – pantry

June 1 – parlor

June 1 - parlor

June 1 – parlor

June 1 – parlor

June 1 – first floor bedroom featured as Henry’s office

June 1 – Henry’s office

June 1 – Henry’s office, shelf on desk has to be installed on wall above the desk

June 1 – Henry’s office

June 1 – second floor bedroom

June 1 – second floor bedroom

June 1 – second floor bedroom, note ropes across the door, it can be left open

June 1 – the other side of the door looking into the bedroom

June 1 – exterior

June 1 – exterior

June 1  - exterior

Black and white photo which is the basis of how it is supposed to look