I am so excited Kathleen has returned here today. I love the Chloe Ellefson Mystery Series. It is set in Wisconsin and in the The Light Keeper’s Legacy we travel away from Old World Wisconsin to Washington Island and Rock Island State Park in Door County. It is a beautiful vacation spot and I loved my visit there with Chloe. I will let Kathleen tell you more about it.
The Lure of a Lighthouse
by Kathleen Ernst
I love lighthouses too. I grew up on the east coast, and saw many majestic towers along the Atlantic shore as a child. Since moving to the Upper Midwest thirty years ago, I’ve visited a number of Great Lakes lighthouses.
Five years ago my husband and I applied to be docents at Pottawatomie Lighthouse, which is in Wisconsin’s Rock Island State Park, off the tip of Door County in Lake Michigan. Both of us have experience serving as reenactors and interpreters at historical sites, and to our delight, we were invited to spend a week living in the lighthouse and giving tours to guests. We loved every minute of it.
It didn’t take me long to decide that I needed to get Chloe, protagonist of my Historic Sites mysteries, to Pottawatomie.
In The Light Keeper’s Legacy, Chloe travels to Rock Island as a guest curator, charged with researching and writing a furnishings plan for the lighthouse. She immediately falls under the building’s spell. (Of course, she didn’t plan on finding a body on the beach below…)
Writing The Light Keeper’s Legacy allowed me to delve deeply into the history of Pottawatomie Lighthouse and the women who once lived on the island. And spending time in that world gave rise to my initial question: What is so compelling about lighthouses?
I have several theories. First, many people love being by the water, and the structures are often situated in remote, rugged, scenic spots.
Also, the buildings symbolize maritime history and culture. In addition to keeping the lights burning in often difficult conditions, keepers sometimes rescued stranded travelers or shipwrecked sailors. Perhaps lighthouses encourage us to vicariously experience the challenge of facing the elements on some lonely outpost. How would we have fared?
Finally, I suspect that the lights themselves strike a symbolic chord in the human psyche. The lamps were lifesaving beacons on the darkest of nights. By extension, so were the keepers. Who wouldn’t be attracted by the notion of providing a beam of guidance and hope to some forlorn soul?
As a writer, thinking about this question led me back to Chloe’s week on the island. As her research progresses she learns more about a real woman who once served as assistant keeper at Pottawatomie Lighthouse. Might past events be linked to modern murder? Since the local deputy sheriff investigating the case shows no interest in considering that idea, it’s up to Chloe to shine the needed light on a long chain of dark events—and in so doing, help solve the crime.
So…are you intrigued by lighthouses? If so, why? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
I’m grateful to Dollycas for allowing me to be a guest on her blog. And I’m grateful to readers! I love my work, and I’d be nowhere without you.
CONTEST ENDS OCTOBER 25 AT 11:59 P.M. CST
About This Author
The Light Keeper’s Legacy is Kathleen Ernst’s twenty-fourth published book. In addition to the Chloe Ellefson series, she has written many books for American Girl, including the six-book series about the newest historical character, Caroline Abbott. Several of her mysteries for young readers have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards.