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Rock Island: Door County, Wisconsin’s Ghost City

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Rock Island: Door County, Wisconsin’s Ghost Town
Up to date on September 26, 2012 stubs Don A. Hoglund moreContact Creator I worked at Rock Island, Illinois however I used to be unaware of this Rock Island till I ran across it in a ebook Ghost Towns of Wisconsin, by William E. Stark. For the big half after we think of ghost towns we think of the boomtowns of the gold rush in the western states. Those are the ones which can be promoted probably the most, but there are ghost towns all through the country.

Wisconsin’s Door County as described by Stark is a”…rugged seventy-mile lengthy 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 experience from the tip of the Door County peninsula.

Like most things, geography has much to do with the history of this island, which is now a state park. Stark’s e book describes it as “ essential 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 show that Indians lived on Rock Island as early as 600 B.C. Within 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 built a palisade village, that is, a village surrounded by stakes pushed into the bottom for defense.

Explorers and missionaries from Europe used it as a cease along the Grand Traverse route, which was between Upper 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 original village. There are still some grave markers of a few of the original settlers and Lilac bushes planted by the original settlers nonetheless bloom close to what stays of the previous properties.

From the 1830’s till the 1860’s a hundred folks of so lived right here, however earlier than these white fishing villagers there was population on Rock Island. Frenchman Jean Nicolet went to Canada in 1618 and became an Indian interpreter underneath Samuel de Champlain. He was commissioned by the French authorities to discover the west in 1634 when he was thirty-six years previous. It’s unknown whether or not he really visited Rock Island but he was actually close to it.

In August of that 12 months he, along with several Indians, left Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay in a canoe. They handed and presumably stopped at Rock Island on the option to Inexperienced Bay they landed about ten miles north of the current metropolis of Inexperienced Bay.

There are each archeological and documentary indications that French explorer Cavalier de La Salle’s males spent the winter of 1678 there while their ship, which was the first on the good Lakes, was lost. In recent times wooden plank from the unique Potawatomi palisade and a few buttons from a French officer’s army greatcoat and British clay pipes have been found in recent times.

Because the fur trade grew to become less essential in Wisconsin within the 19th Century the French had been not there and after the Battle of 1812 the British left as effectively. There was still an Indian village on the island in the first a part of the nineteenth century however not many whites visited or lived on the island. In 1830 the territory had a population of about 40,000 Indians and about 3,000 whites.

Ships, lighthouse and commerce on the good Lakes
By 1832 thirty completely different house 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 is now generally known as Rock Island) on the entrance of Inexperienced Bay in Lake Michigan.

A authorities crew got here to the island 4 years later and built a forty-foot mild tower. A home for the keeper was constructed as effectively. It was the first lighthouse in Wisconsin. It was 1836 and Wisconsin became Wisconsin Territory.

When the primary census was taken the only white residents of Rock Island had been Louis Labute and his spouse. With the completion of the lighthouse some summer residents settled there permanently. They had been largely fisherman and some trappers. Aside from Green Bay it was the primary settlement in northeastern Wisconsin.

Tensions and decision
In line with stark in his guide, the whites and Indians have been getting alongside Ok if not shut. Then a close to outbreak of hostilities occurred over a children’s squabble.

Some Indian boys have been teasing the son of a widowed nurse about having to peel potatoes. The boy became annoyed at the Indian boys outside his window and threw a potato at them. As the potato flew by the glass window glass splinters caught the seven-year-previous son of a chief within the eyes.

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

Decline of Rock Island
The island was declining in mid-century. The principle components of Door County were beginning to be more populated. There was a lack of good harbors and isolation tended to make life on the island less enticing and steadily the settlers went to Washington Island or the mainland.

In 1863 a log schoolhouse was built nevertheless it was a bit late as there have been only seven households left on the Island withthat had faculty age kids. The chief of the neighborhood, John Boon, died and the final of the resident fishermen left the island in 1890. For the next decade solely the lighthouse keeper was a everlasting resident.

Chester Thordarson
An inventor and manufacturer Thordarson and his wife got here to visit the Icelandic colony of Washington Island, as his father had been an immigrant from Iceland. They have been very impressed with the Inexperienced Bay islands and purchased all of Rock Island apart from the lighthouse reservation. It was 1910 they usually purchased about eighty acres for just a little over $5000.

He had an outdated body house rebuilt in the fishing village, which was now deserted. He also had a stone water tower constructed. A boathouse and nice corridor cost a quarter or 1,000,000 dollars and resembles an historic Viking hall. Twenty masons took three years to build it.

Several stone cottages and a lodge built of logs had been additionally built. Thordarson entertained a number of celebrities on the island.

The University of Wisconsin, in 1929, awarded him an honorary diploma in architecture.
Rock Island State Park

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

For the extra rugged there’s camping available but the park is primitive. There are not any facilities on the campground corresponding to showers, flush toilets or shops. No automobiles are allowed so campers should carry their gear about 1/3 mile to the campground from the boathouse landing. Flush toilets are available on the state park offices at Jackson Harbor.

Convey your personal water, food, ice and anything else you need. Campfire wooden will be purchased from the park.

Campsites needs to be reserved both on-line or by cellphone. The state park office number is 920-847-2235.

Allow time. It’s a two-hour drive from Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Unless you’ve your individual boat the one option to get there’s on the Washington Island Ferry Line.

Rock Island, WI – Rock Island, Washington, WI, USA get directions
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sendingAuthorDon A. Hoglund four years in the past from Wisconsin Rapids
anniebetty, thanks for including your details about Rock Island, Wisconsin. The identify attracted my attention as a result of I used to work at Rock Island, Illinois. I hope you continue to benefit from the island.

anniebetty four years ago from Pennsylvania
We spend all of July on Washington Island, Wisconsin, yearly and have spent numerous hours on Rock Island. It is funny, I’ve by no means thought of it a ghost city, but I find your HUB interesting. We mostly hike on Rock Island, however we now have also spent fantastic time on the sandy seashore. Sadly, lake ranges are so low now that one can pretty much walk to Rock Island. We had been capable of take our little fishing boat over final July, cp stone island but I’m undecided what this July will carry. Anyway, thanks for this properly organized, acurate and informative HUB!

Ghost towns, I believe, reflect one thing of the tradition and history of a location. As such, they would differ in places.Typically they were non permanent to begin with, reminiscent of mining towns. Thanks for your remark.

Anaya M. Baker 5 years in the past from North Carolina
Fascinating history! I was able to go to a ghost town in New Mexico a couple of months in the past, which was quite an interesting experience, although in all probability quite completely different from the town you describe!

cabmgmnt, thanks for reading my hub and commenting. There are many attention-grabbing issues in our past.
Corey 5 years ago from Northfield, MA

Very informatiove hub. I cherished the tid bit concerning the boy throwing the potato out the window and his mom helping the Indian boy. cp stone island charming hub!

AuthorDon A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids
Hi Peggy,

Thanks for coming again and sharing.
Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Don,
Came back in order that I may hit the SHARE with my followers in order that extra people can learn of this island by means of your writing.

I’m glad I could provide you with some data you did not have.Wisconsin is my adopted state though I’ve lived most of my life in neighboring states.

Thank you for the remark.Sorry I didn’t answer sooner but I missed the notification. I am glad you enjoyed 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 good to have extra information in regards to the Indians and the fishing village. I’m aware that some lighthouse keeper’s wives taught faculty at the lighthouse, however hadn’t heard about a log schoolhouse on the island. Thanks again for an fascinating article.

Door county is a well-liked place in Wisconsin for visitors.Thanks for commenting.
Carolina 6 years in the past from Switzerland

I heard about Rock Island. It was from a ebook that i learn or a film that i noticed. The place should be very beautiful. Thanks for sharing about this Island.

Glad you enjoyed it.Thanks for commenting.
toddwertz 6 years in the past

I’m really loved this hub, thanks for sharing “dahoglund”
Door county is a very talked-about place for guests. I feel you’d get pleasure from it. Thanks for commenting.

sharmanlow 6 years ago
oh, i’d like to visit rock island.

I’ve even been in door county many times with out realizing Rock Island was there.Having worked on another Rock Island for many years I felt compelled to put in writing about it. Thanks for studying it, kittythederamer.

Nicole Canfield 6 years in the past from the Ether
Wow, I had no thought this place even existed! It seems like a wonderful place to go to. Voted up and lovely, dahoglund!

Thanks for taking the time to learn it and comment.
Sa`ge 6 years in the past from Barefoot Island

so much to study a lot to see if one can. thanks for exhibiting all this to us who cannot. 🙂 hugs to you and yours 🙂

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

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

Ironically we have now been up in that space greater than as soon as but time factors 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 a beautiful review in regards to the history of Rock Island in Wisconsin. Can be an awesome place to go to sometime. Voted useful and up. Thanks!

I admire the remark.I’m glad you loved it.
prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

This was so stunning hub. I like one thing about stunning place. You describe this effectively and you make it intimately. Complete with the history. I received new information from this hub. Thanks for writing and share with us. You got my VOTE. God bless you!

AuthorDon A. Hoglund 6 years in the past from Wisconsin Rapids

Thanks for studying and commenting. There could also be a difference in terminology between the United States and the UK. Rock Island is a state park as opposed to a national park. It’s the state of Wisconsin that that helps and maintains it.

CASE1WORKER 6 years in the past from UNITED KINGDOM
sounds a tremendous place- in fact there are uninhabited islands in Scotland, however for this for use as a nationwide park is fantastic, particularly with entry by boat.

Thanks for an illuminating historical past and outline of the island