Digest>Archives> August 2001

Goodbye to Last Civilian Keeper at Eagle Harbor Lighthouse

By Don Nelson


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On June 7, 2001, Albert E. Stridfelt passed away at the Houghton County Medical Care Facility at the age of 95. Albert was the last civilian lighthouse keeper to serve at Eagle Harbor Lighthouse. He retired in 1969after 30 years of service with the U.S. Lighthouse Service, of which 26were spent at Eagle Harbor. Albert spent the last 7 years as keeper in charge, upon the retirement of Edward Byttyla. Byttyla spent 33 of his 35years service time at Eagle Harbor, 22 years as keeper in charge.

Albert joined the U.S. Lighthouse Service in 1939 and was assigned as assistant keeper at Rock of Ages Lighthouse. In 1940 he was reassigned to the Harbor Beach Lighthouse on Lake Huron as an Assistant. In 1941 he was again reassigned when an opening became available near his home in Calumet, to the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse. He would serve out his career there, except for a few years during WWII, when he served in the U.S. Navy.

Albert was one of the last of the old-time keepers who worked with oil lamps and coal-fed steam fog signal systems. He worked through the transition to electric lights and engine-driven air horns and lived to see the automation of lighthouses, and the elimination of jobs and careers like

his. He witnessed it all from early on to the end. He was buried in the Lake View Cemetery on June 12, 2001 near his home of Calumet, Michigan.

This story appeared in the August 2001 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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