The lighthouse on the shore of Lake Winnebago in Neenah, Wisconsin has stood for the last 50 years in a place where Indian Tribesman met for pow-wows 150 years ago at the mouth of the Fox River. The lighthouse site has historical significance to the City of Neenah because it was once the site of an ernoumous elm tree called the Old Council Tree by the Menominee Indians. The tribesmen would hold councils under its sheltering arms prior to the 1830's.
in 1929, Mrs. Helen Kimberly Stuart ( of Kimberly-Clarke fame, makers of Kleenex brand tissue) donated land to the city of Neenah which was named Kimberly Point Park.
In 1944 Mr. J. C. Kimberly (also of Kimberly-Clarke fame) realized there was the need of a light for boaters to mark the entrance to the river. He donated the funds to have the lighthouse built. The lighthouse, which was also designed as a comfort station, cost $7500 to build. It was made of brick and Haydite block and rose 40 feet above the water and first began guiding boaters into Neenah Harbor in 1945.
The famous Old Council Tree is no longer there having been torn down in the 1880's by the Federal Corps of Engineers when the river channel was dredged and widened.
The beautiful cherry and other blooming trees around the lighthouse are there thanks to Mrs. Stuart. One of the Elm trees is a shoot from the original Old Council Tree. Today there is a marker there in commeration of the Old Council Tree and the American Indians who met under its branches.
This photograph, courtesy of the Neenah Historical Society, was taken just last month showing that the lighthouse is still an important monument to its community.
This story appeared in the
April 1996 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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