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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 Author I worked at Rock Island, Illinois however I used to be unaware of this Rock Island till I ran across it in a book Ghost Towns of Wisconsin, by William E. Stark. For the large part once we think of ghost towns we think of the boomtowns of the gold rush within the western states. Those are those which can be promoted the most, but there are ghost towns all through the country.

Wisconsin’s Door County as described by Stark is a”…rugged seventy-mile long peninsula which juts into the cold 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 ride from the tip of the Door County peninsula.

Like most issues, geography has a lot to do with the historical past of this island, which is now a state park. Stark’s e-book describes it as “ vital stepping stone between Mackinac, Inexperienced Bay and the areas south and west.”

Moon Wisconsin’s Door County (Journey Information) Buy Now Rock Island Origins
Archeological findings show 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 driven into the ground for defense.

Explorers and missionaries from Europe used it as a stop along the Grand Traverse route, which was between Upper Michigan and Wisconsin. The primary permanent 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 unique settlers nonetheless bloom close to what remains of the old homes.

From the 1830’s until the 1860’s 100 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 turned an Indian interpreter underneath Samuel de Champlain. He was commissioned by the French authorities to explore the west in 1634 when he was thirty-six years old. It is unknown whether or not he truly visited Rock Island but he was actually close to it.

Stretch Cotton Scarf In GreyIn August of that year he, along with several Indians, left Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay in a canoe. They passed and possibly stopped at Rock Island on the technique to Inexperienced Bay they landed about ten miles north of the current city of Green 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 great Lakes, was misplaced. In recent years wooden plank from the unique Potawatomi palisade and some 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 much less essential in Wisconsin within the 19th Century the French were no longer there and after the Conflict of 1812 the British left as nicely. There was still an Indian village on the island in the first a part of the nineteenth century but not many whites visited or lived on the island. In 1830 the territory had a inhabitants of about forty,000 Indians and about 3,000 whites.

Ships, lighthouse and commerce on the good Lakes
By 1832 thirty totally 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 often called Rock Island) at the entrance of Green Bay in Lake Michigan.

A government crew came to the island four years later and built a forty-foot mild tower. A home for the keeper was constructed as properly. 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 were Louis Labute and his wife. With the completion of the lighthouse some summer residents settled there permanently. They were mostly fisherman and some trappers. Apart from Inexperienced Bay it was the first settlement in northeastern Wisconsin.

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

Some Indian boys had 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. Because the potato flew via the glass window glass splinters caught the seven-year-previous son of a chief within the eyes.

A leader of the colony took the mother of the boy who threw the potato to visit the Indian chief. He defined to the chief what had happened. The nurse mother helped the Indian boy to relieve ache. The Indian boy did lose sight in that one eye, but a serious confrontation was avoided. 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 elements of Door County were beginning to be more populated. There was a lack of fine harbors and isolation tended to make life on the island much less engaging and regularly the settlers went to Washington Island or the mainland.

In 1863 a log schoolhouse was constructed however it was a bit late as there were only seven brown bag stone island households left on the Island withthat had school age children. The chief of the group, John Boon, died and the last of the resident fishermen left the island in 1890. For the subsequent decade solely the lighthouse keeper was a permanent resident.

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

He had an previous frame house rebuilt in the fishing village, which was now deserted. He additionally had a stone water tower constructed. A boathouse and nice hall cost a quarter or one million dollars and resembles an historical Viking hall. Twenty masons took three years to construct it.

A number of stone cottages and a lodge built of logs have been additionally constructed. Thordarson entertained a lot of celebrities on the island.

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

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

For the extra rugged there is camping available however the park is primitive. There are no amenities on the campground equivalent to showers, flush toilets or stores. No automobiles are allowed so campers must carry their gear about 1/three mile to the campground from the boathouse touchdown. Flush toilets can be found at the state park offices at Jackson Harbor.

Convey your individual water, meals, ice and anything else you need. Campfire wooden can be bought from the park.

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

Allow time. It’s a two-hour drive from Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Until you will have your individual boat the one method to get there may be 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 in the past from Wisconsin Rapids
anniebetty, thanks for including your details about Rock Island, Wisconsin. The identify attracted my attention because I used to work at Rock Island, Illinois. I hope you continue to enjoy the island.

anniebetty 4 years ago from Pennsylvania
We spend all of July on Washington Island, Wisconsin, yearly and have spent numerous hours on Rock Island. It’s humorous, I’ve never thought-about it a ghost town, however I find your HUB fascinating. We largely hike on Rock Island, but we’ve got additionally spent great time on the sandy seaside. Sadly, lake ranges are so low now that one can pretty much walk to Rock Island. We have been in a position to take our little fishing boat over final July, however I’m unsure what this July will carry. Anyway, thanks for this effectively organized, acurate and informative HUB!

Ghost towns, I feel, reflect one thing of the tradition and history of a location. As such, they’d differ in locations.Often they had been short-term to begin with, similar to mining towns. Thanks on your comment.

Anaya M. Baker 5 years in the past from North Carolina
Fascinating history! I was in a position to visit a ghost city in New Mexico just a few months in the past, which was quite an interesting experience, though most likely fairly different from the town you describe!

cabmgmnt, thanks for reading my hub and commenting. There are various fascinating things in our previous.
Corey 5 years ago from Northfield, MA

Very informatiove hub. I liked the tid bit in regards to the boy throwing the potato out the window and his mother helping the Indian boy. charming hub!

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

Thanks for coming again and sharing.
Peggy Woods 5 years in the past from Houston, Texas

Hi Don,
Came back so that I might hit the SHARE with my followers in order that extra folks can study of this island by way of your writing.

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

Thank you for the remark.Sorry I did not reply sooner but I missed the notification. I’m glad you loved the hub.

beckyz 6 years in the past
Thanks for the fascinating historical past lesson. I have labored as a volunteer tour information on the Pottawatomie lighthouse on Rock Island, which was rebuilt in 1858. It’s good to have more info in regards to the Indians and the fishing village. I’m conscious that some lighthouse keeper’s wives taught faculty at the lighthouse, however hadn’t heard a few log schoolhouse on the island. Thanks once more 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 guide that i learn or a film that i noticed. The place should be very stunning. 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 fashionable place for guests. I think you’d enjoy it. Thanks for commenting.

sharmanlow 6 years in the past
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 one other Rock Island for a few years I felt compelled to write down about Stone Island Jumpers 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 looks as if a gorgeous place to go to. Voted up and lovely, dahoglund!

Thanks for taking the time to learn it and remark.
Sa`ge 6 years ago from Barefoot Island

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

That’s right.Since a person wants time to look round it’s best to go early.Thanks for additional commenting.

Yes, I’d imagine so just because it is an island and doubtless the scheduling back and forth will not be that frequent…or is already totally booked.

Ironically we have now been up in that area more than as soon as however time factors didn’t lend themselves to going that far. It does take some scheduling.Thanks for commenting and voting.

Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas
What a beautiful review about the historical past of Rock Island in Wisconsin. Would be an important place to visit sometime. Voted useful and up. Thanks!

I appreciate the comment.I am glad you loved it.

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

This was so lovely hub. I love something about stunning place. You describe this properly and also you make it intimately. Complete 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 could also be a distinction in terminology between the United States and the UK. Rock Island is a state park as opposed to a nationwide park. It’s the state of Wisconsin that that supports and maintains it.

CASE1WORKER 6 years in the past from UNITED KINGDOM
sounds a tremendous place- in fact there are uninhabited islands in Scotland, but for this to be used as a nationwide park is great, particularly with access by boat.

Thanks for an illuminating historical past and outline of the island