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Rock Island: Door County, Wisconsin’s Ghost City

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Rock Island: Door County, Wisconsin’s Ghost City
Up to date on September 26, 2012 Don A. Hoglund moreContact Writer I labored at Rock Island, Illinois but I used to be unaware of this Rock Island till I ran throughout it in a e-book Ghost Towns of Wisconsin, by William E. Stark. For the massive part after we consider ghost towns we consider the boomtowns of the gold rush within the western states. Those are the ones that are promoted essentially the most, however there are ghost towns throughout the nation.

Wisconsin’s Door County as described by Stark is a”…rugged seventy-mile long peninsula which juts into the chilly waters of Lake Michigan.” Rock Island is a half-mile from the north shore of Washington Island, which in flip is a forty-minute ferry trip from the tip of the Door County peninsula.

Like most things, geography has much to do with the historical past of this island, which is now a state park. Stark’s book describes it as “ necessary stepping stone between Mackinac, Green Bay and the areas south and west.”

Moon Wisconsin’s Door County (Travel Guide) Buy Now Rock Island Origins
Archeological findings present that Indians lived on Rock Island as early as 600 B.C. In the mid-1600’s Indians from the Huron tribe or Ontario got here to the island and settledthere. Aboutfifty years later the Potawatomi dominated the island and constructed a palisade village, that is, a village surrounded by stakes pushed into the ground for defense.

Explorers and missionaries from Europe used it as a cease alongside the Grand Traverse route, which was between Higher Michigan and Wisconsin. The first everlasting European settlement within the Door Peninsula was small fishing village on the jap shore of the island. These settlers later moved to close by Washington Island and abandoned the unique village. There are nonetheless some grave markers of a few of the unique settlers and Lilac bushes planted by the original settlers nonetheless bloom close to what stays of the outdated properties.

From the 1830’s until the 1860’s a hundred folks of so lived here, but before these white fishing villagers there was inhabitants on Rock Island. Frenchman Jean Nicolet went to Canada in 1618 and became an Indian interpreter below Samuel de Champlain. He was commissioned by the French government to discover the west in 1634 when he was thirty-six years old. It’s unknown whether or not he truly visited Rock Island however he was actually near it.

In August of that year he, together with several Indians, left Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay in a canoe. They passed and presumably stopped at Rock Island on the approach to Inexperienced Bay they landed about ten miles north of the current metropolis of Green Bay.

There are both archeological and documentary indications that French explorer Cavalier de La Salle’s men spent the winter of 1678 there while their ship, which was the primary on the nice Lakes, was misplaced. In recent years wooden plank from the original Potawatomi palisade and a few buttons from a French officer’s army greatcoat and British clay pipes have been discovered in recent times.

Because the fur trade grew to become much less vital in Wisconsin in the nineteenth Century the French have been not there and after the War of 1812 the British left as effectively. There was still an Indian village on the island in the primary part of the nineteenth century but not many whites visited or lived on stone island sale kinder the island. In 1830 the territory had a population of about 40,000 Indians and about three,000 whites.

Ships, lighthouse and commerce on the good Lakes
By 1832 thirty different owners and captains of vessels on the northern Nice Lakes petitioned the United States Congress for a lighthouse on the Isle of Pou or Pottawattamine Island (names for what’s now referred to as Rock Island) at the entrance of Inexperienced Bay in Lake Michigan.

A government crew got here to the island four years later and constructed a forty-foot light tower. A house for the keeper was built as nicely. It was the primary lighthouse in Wisconsin. It was 1836 and Wisconsin became Wisconsin Territory.

When the first census was taken the only white residents of Rock Island have been Louis Labute and his wife. With the completion of the lighthouse some summer residents settled there completely. They had been principally fisherman and a few trappers. Other than Inexperienced Bay it was the first settlement in northeastern Wisconsin.

Tensions and decision
In accordance with stark in his e-book, the whites and Indians have been getting along Okay if not shut. Then a close to outbreak of hostilities occurred over a children’s squabble.

Some Indian boys were teasing the son of a widowed nurse about having to Garment-Dyed Membrana Light Jacket In Yellow peel potatoes. The boy turned annoyed on the Indian boys exterior his window and threw a potato at them. As the potato flew by way of the glass window glass splinters caught the seven-yr-old son of a chief in the eyes.

A frontrunner of the colony took the mom of the boy who threw the potato to go to the Indian chief. He defined to the chief what had occurred. The nurse mom helped the Indian boy to relieve ache. The Indian boy did lose sight in that one eye, however a serious confrontation was averted. Relations between the Whites and the Indians really improved after the incident

Decline of Rock Island
The island was declining in mid-century. The primary parts of Door County had been beginning to be extra populated. There was a scarcity of excellent harbors and isolation tended to make life on the island less attractive and steadily the settlers went to Washington Island or the mainland.

In 1863 a log schoolhouse was constructed but it surely was a bit late as there were only seven households left on the Island withthat had college age youngsters. The chief of the community, John Boon, died and the last of the resident fishermen left the island in 1890. For the next decade only the lighthouse keeper was a everlasting resident.

Chester Thordarson

An inventor and manufacturer Thordarson and his spouse came to go to the Icelandic colony of Washington Island, as his father had been an immigrant from Iceland. They have been very impressed with the Green Bay islands and bought all of Rock Island aside from the lighthouse reservation. It was 1910 and so they purchased about eighty acres for a bit of over $5000.

He had an outdated frame house rebuilt within the fishing village, which was now deserted. He additionally had a stone water tower built. A boathouse and great hall cost a quarter or one million dollars and resembles an historic Viking hall. Twenty masons took three years to build it.

Several stone cottages and a lodge built of logs were also constructed. Thordarson entertained plenty of celebrities on the island.

The University of Wisconsin, in 1929, awarded him an honorary degree in structure.

Rock Island State Park

The island is now a state park. Tourists can sightsee, hike on trails, swim or go to the lighthouse and boathouse.

For the more rugged there is camping available but the park is primitive. There aren’t any facilities on the campground resembling showers, flush toilets or shops. No autos are allowed so campers should carry their gear about 1/three mile to the campground from the boathouse touchdown. Flush toilets can be found on the state park places of work at Jackson Harbor.

Carry your own water, meals, ice and anything you want. Campfire wooden might be bought from the park.

Campsites must be reserved both on-line or by phone. The state park office quantity is 920-847-2235.

Enable time. It’s a two-hour drive from Inexperienced Bay, Wisconsin.

Except you’ve gotten your individual boat the only way to get there’s on the Washington Island Ferry Line.

Rock Island, WI – Rock Island, Washington, WI, USA get instructions

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sendingAuthorDon A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

anniebetty, thanks for including your information about Rock Island, Wisconsin. The identify attracted my attention because I used to work at Rock Island, Illinois. I hope you continue to benefit from the island.

anniebetty four years in the past from Pennsylvania

We spend all of July on Washington Island, Wisconsin, yearly and have spent countless hours on Rock Island. It’s funny, I’ve never thought of it a ghost town, but I discover your HUB attention-grabbing. We largely hike on Rock Island, but we now have additionally spent fantastic time on the sandy beach. Sadly, lake ranges are so low now that one can pretty much walk to Rock Island. We had been in a position to take our little fishing boat over last July, however I am not sure what this July will carry. Anyway, thanks for this effectively organized, acurate and informative HUB!

Ghost towns, I feel, mirror something of the culture and historical past of a location. As such, they might differ in locations.Usually they had been temporary to start with, equivalent to mining towns. Thanks for your comment.

Anaya M. Baker 5 years ago from North Carolina

Fascinating historical past! I was able to visit a ghost city in New Mexico a few months ago, which was quite an fascinating experience, although probably fairly completely different from the town you describe!

cabmgmnt, thanks for reading my hub and commenting. There are various fascinating issues in our previous.

Corey 5 years ago from Northfield, MA

Very informatiove hub. I liked the tid bit concerning the boy throwing the potato out the window and his mom serving to the Indian boy. charming hub!

AuthorDon A. Hoglund 5 years in the past from Wisconsin Rapids

Hi Peggy,

Thanks for coming again and sharing.

Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hello Don,

Came again in order that I may hit the SHARE with my followers so that more individuals can learn of this island by your writing.


I’m glad I may provide you with some info you didn’t have.Wisconsin is my adopted state although I have lived most of my life in neighboring states.


Thank you for the remark.Sorry I didn’t answer sooner however I missed the notification. I am glad you loved the hub.

beckyz 6 years in the past

Thanks for the attention-grabbing historical past lesson. I have labored as a volunteer tour information at the Pottawatomie lighthouse on Rock Island, which was rebuilt in 1858. It’s nice to have extra data in regards to the Indians and the fishing village. I’m conscious that some lighthouse keeper’s wives taught school at the lighthouse, but hadn’t heard a couple of log schoolhouse on the island. Thanks again for an attention-grabbing article.

Door county is a well-liked place in Wisconsin for guests.Thanks for commenting.

Carolina 6 years in the past from Switzerland

I heard about Rock Island. It was from a ebook that stone island sale kinder i read or a film that i saw. The place should be very beautiful. Thanks for sharing about this Island.

Glad you enjoyed it.Thanks for commenting.

toddwertz 6 years ago

I’m actually enjoyed this hub, thanks for sharing “dahoglund”

Door county is a extremely popular place for guests. I believe you’d enjoy it. Thanks for commenting.

sharmanlow 6 years in the past

oh, i would like to visit rock island.

I’ve even been in door county many instances with out realizing Rock Island was there.Having labored on another Rock Island for many years I felt compelled to jot down about it. Thanks for reading it, kittythederamer.

Nicole Canfield 6 years in the past from the Ether

Wow, I had no concept this place even existed! It looks like a gorgeous place to go to. Voted up and stunning, dahoglund!

Thank you for taking the time to read it and comment.

Sa`ge 6 years in the past from Barefoot Island

a lot to be taught a lot to see if one can. thanks for exhibiting all this to us who can’t. 🙂 hugs to you and yours 🙂

That’s right.Since an individual desires time to look round it is best to go early.Thanks for further commenting.

Sure, I’d imagine so just because it’s an island and probably the scheduling again and forth just isn’t that frequent…or is already totally booked.

Ironically we have been up in that area greater than as soon as but time elements did not lend themselves to going that far. It does take some scheduling.Thanks for commenting and voting.

Peggy Woods 6 years in the past from Houston, Texas

What an exquisite evaluation concerning the history of Rock Island in Wisconsin. Can be an ideal place to go to sometime. Voted useful and up. Thanks!

I recognize the comment.I am glad you enjoyed it.

prasetio30 6 years in the past from malang-indonesia

This was so lovely hub. I love one thing about stunning place. You describe this well and also you make it in detail. Full with the historical past. I obtained new data from this hub. Thanks for writing and share with us. You bought my VOTE. God bless you!


AuthorDon A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

Thanks for reading and commenting. There may be a distinction in terminology between the United States and the UK. Rock Island is a state park versus a nationwide park. It’s the state of Wisconsin that that helps and maintains it.

CASE1WORKER 6 years in the past from UNITED KINGDOM

sounds an incredible place- of course there are uninhabited islands in Scotland, but for this for use as a national park is great, especially with entry by boat.

Thanks for an illuminating historical past and outline of the island

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