Reader mail: on lighthouses, burgers, B&Bs

More lighthouses than any other county in the country: Door County promotional materials included this assertion for years.

The state Department of Tourism still mentions this tidbit in its online list of tourism facts. The state Department of Natural Resources’ magazine has used the description in its articles.

The Door County Board of Realtors repeats the claim on its website, as do resorts in Egg Harbor and Sister Bay; popular online resources, such as; and tour companies, such as Colorado-based Timberline Adventures.

Problem is, the boast isn’t true. Door County’s 10 lighthouses is a lot, but it’s not the most, as Roland Babineau of Massachusetts pointed out, after our recent column about lighthouses and lighthouse art.

Babineau, editor of the Lighthouse Encyclopedia, a product at, contends Cape Cod’s Barnstable County is the leader, with 15 lighthouses. His note listed them and ended with “thanks for allowing me to set the record straight.”

Problem is, Barnstable County doesn’t have the most either. Brian Kelsey, executive director of the Door County Maritime Museum, says the Cape Cod list includes lighthouses that have moved or no longer exist.

He considers Suffolk County, New York, to be the leader, with 15 of its 26 lighthouses still standing.

“I’ve done quite a bit of research,” Brian says, and that includes setting the record straight about Door County. “I’ve tried to steer clear of ‘most’ lighthouses” because it’s inaccurate. Jon Jarosh of the Door County Visitor Bureau says his office’s promotional materials have been adjusted, because of Brian’s findings.

“We want to be credible,” he says, but there’s no way to force a change in what other websites purport.

Former lighthouses, lighthouses still standing, lighthouses still in operation, and navigational lights vs. lighthouses all can complicate the distinction. Using “county” as the base for comparison also is unusual and hard to track.

“Active aids to navigation” is how Brian classifies Door County’s 10 lighthouses. The U.S. Lighthouse Society lists 56 Wisconsin lighthouses in its database, which includes those that no longer exist.

The state with the most lighthouses is Michigan, which has about 120 still standing, says the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which places these structures on its 2007 list of Most Endangered Places. For more:

Other lighthouse mail:

“Thank you for writing about one of my favorite topics,” writes Anona Nelson, of the Eau Claire area, but “I was disappointed to not to see any mention of any of the six lighthouses in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore or Split Rock in Minnesota.”

Some of you are eager to talk about much-loved burger joints.

“Our favorite drive for an excellent burger (and sweet potato fries) is in Shullsburg,” write Bill and Jean Wyss, Monroe. “Small, intimate and great window seats.  Love the old architecture that abounds in this small town.”

For more about the Water Street Place Pub & Eatery, 202 W. Water St.:, 608-965-3228.

Nolan Gokey of Madison fills us in on Pete’s Hamburger Stand, 118 W. Blackhawk Ave., Prairie du Chien.

“My grandfather started the place in 1909, and it is still going strong. There is no dining area, no air conditioning, and the only food other than burgers that we sell is chips. But people line up every Friday, Saturday and Sunday to get their burgers.

“It may seem like the business model is perhaps not the best, but we do well and people keep coming back.”

His grandmother is in charge, with staffing by grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The seasonal business closes in October. For more: 608-326-1919.

Sheboygan native Mary Ashley notes our fondness for Chester’s Drive-in, 1504 Eastern Ave., Plymouth. “On a recent visit to see family, my brother suggested Chester’s, and my sister-in-law’s comment was ‘great, but bring along a roll of paper toweling.’ Between the juicy burger and the generous amount of butter, no ordinary napkin was enough for Chester’s burgers.”
“Now that you have me ravenous for a good burger,” she adds. “do you know of any place in the Madison area where you can buy a good Sheboygan hard roll?
Sorry, Mary. We have good bakeries, but I know of none that come up with a hard roll quite like City Bakery, 1102 Michigan Ave., Sheboygan. For more: 920-892-7722 (Chester’s) and 920-457-4493 (City Bakery).

Dennis Appleton of Madison writes to recommend Britannia Bed & Breakfast, N7136 Hwy. 42, Algoma.  It is one mile south of Lake Michigan’s Algoma Lighthouse.

The innkeepers are “a couple of British ex-pats, John and Nicky Friend,” Dennis says. “Two more delightful individuals would be hard to find on either side of the pond. They had long been smitten by this part of our country, having spent much vacation time here, so when they decided to take the trans-Atlantic leap, they landed in Algoma.” 

Although the lake views and amenities are laudable, “breakfast is what makes the Britannia worth the trip. Nicky provides a British breakfast second to none, from French press coffee to fresh homemade scones, all served on the most beautiful china and silver, with a huge helping of English hospitality.”

For more:, 920-487-3471.

Eugene Thompson of Madison writes about an unusual vacation rental cottage that he and wife Kathleen own on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, on the shore of Lake Superior.

“The Ford Motor Company had considerable acreage in the upper peninsula,” he says. “What Henry Ford called ‘The Bungalow’ was part of this. It served as a summer residence for Henry and Clara during much of the 1920s and they were often summer visitors” afterward.  
The 5,000-square-foot cottage has nine bedrooms and six full baths. Families and other groups typically rent the entire property for reunions or other outings.

Located in unincorporated Pequaming, on Keweenaw Bay in Baraga County, “it isn’t in a well-known or well-developed tourist area.” The cottage is about 325 miles from Madison. For more: 608-221-0196.

Sheila Nelson of Cassville wants us to know that she values Stonefield, a state historical site that is home to the State Agricultural Museum and former home of Nelson Dewey, Wisconsin’s first governor.

“I always get the feeling that (Dewey’s) professional successes continue to go unnoticed,” she writes.

Stonefield – on Hwy. VV and just north of Cassville on Hwy. 133 – is open until Oct. 14. For more:, 608-725-5210.

Last, it was great to hear from Pat Cummings of Schofield, regarding Wisconsin rodeos.

“I just wanted to let you know that I was the very first Wisconsin High School Rodeo Queen, in June l960,” writes Pat, whose father – Orval “Red” Smith – helped establish high school rodeo competition in the state.