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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 until I ran across it in a ebook Ghost Towns of Wisconsin, by William E. Stark. For the large half once we think of ghost towns we think of the boomtowns of the gold rush in the western states. Those are the ones that are promoted probably the most, but there are ghost towns throughout the country.

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 turn is a forty-minute ferry experience from the tip of the Door County peninsula.

Like most things, geography has a lot to do with the history of this island, which is now a state park. Stark’s book describes it as “ important stepping stone between Mackinac, Green 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. Within the mid-1600’s Indians from the Huron tribe or Ontario came 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 ground 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 permanent European settlement in the Door Peninsula was small fishing village on the jap shore of the island. These settlers later moved to nearby Washington Island and abandoned the unique village. There are still some grave markers of some of the original settlers and Lilac bushes planted by the original settlers still bloom near what stays of the old properties.

From the 1830’s till the 1860’s a hundred folks of so lived here, however before these white fishing villagers there was inhabitants on Rock Island. Frenchman Jean Nicolet went to Canada in 1618 and turned an Indian interpreter under Samuel de Champlain. He was commissioned by the French government to discover the west in 1634 when he was thirty-six years previous. It is unknown whether he really visited Rock Island however he was actually near it.

In August of that 12 months he, along with a number of Indians, left Lake Huron’s mens stone island hat Georgian Bay in a canoe. They handed and probably stopped at Rock Island on the way to Green Bay they landed about ten miles north of the present city of Inexperienced Bay.

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

As the fur trade became less important in Wisconsin within the nineteenth Century the French had been now not there and after the War of 1812 the British left as well. There was nonetheless an Indian village on the island in the primary 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 great Lakes
By 1832 thirty different homeowners and captains of vessels on the northern Great Lakes petitioned the United States Congress for a lighthouse on the Isle of Pou or Pottawattamine Island (names for what’s now often called Rock Island) on the entrance of Inexperienced Bay in Lake Michigan.

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

When the primary 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 mens stone island hat permanently. They had been mostly fisherman and some trappers. Apart from Inexperienced Bay it was the first settlement in northeastern Wisconsin.

Tensions and resolution
In keeping with stark in his book, the whites and Indians had been getting along Ok if not shut. Then a near 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-outdated son of a chief in the eyes.

A pacesetter of the colony took the mom of the boy who threw the potato to visit the Indian chief. He explained 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 had been beginning to be more populated. There was a lack of fine harbors and isolation tended to make life on the island much less attractive and gradually 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 families left on the Island withthat had school age youngsters. The chief of the group, John Boon, died and the last of the resident fishermen left the island in 1890. For the following decade only 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 have been very impressed with the Green Bay islands and bought all of Rock Island apart from the lighthouse reservation. It was 1910 and they bought about eighty acres for a little bit over $5000.

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

A number of stone cottages and a lodge built of logs were additionally constructed. Thordarson entertained a lot 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. Vacationers can sightsee, hike on trails, swim or go to the lighthouse and boathouse.

For the more rugged there may be camping available however the park is primitive. There aren’t any amenities on the campground corresponding 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 landing. Flush toilets can be found at the state park workplaces at Jackson Harbor.

Convey your individual water, food, ice and anything 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.

Enable time. It’s a two-hour drive from Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Unless you’ve got your individual boat the only method 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 because I used to work at Rock Island, Illinois. I hope you continue to benefit from the island.

anniebetty 4 years in the past from Pennsylvania
We spend all of July on Washington Island, Wisconsin, yearly and have spent numerous hours on Rock Island. It’s funny, I’ve never thought-about it a ghost city, however I find your HUB attention-grabbing. We largely hike on Rock Island, but we’ve got additionally spent fantastic time on the sandy seaside. Sadly, lake levels are so low now that one can pretty much walk to Rock Island. We have been capable of 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 believe, mirror one thing of the tradition and historical past of a location. As such, they’d differ in locations.Typically they were short-term to begin with, akin to mining towns. Thanks on your remark.

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

cabmgmnt, thanks for reading my hub and commenting. There are various attention-grabbing issues 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 mom serving to 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

Hello Don,
Came back so that I may hit the SHARE with my followers so 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 though I’ve lived most of my life in neighboring states.

Thanks for the remark.Sorry I didn’t reply sooner but I missed the notification. I’m 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 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 school at the lighthouse, however hadn’t heard about a 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 must be very stunning. Thanks for sharing about this Island.

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

I’m actually enjoyed this hub, thanks for sharing “dahoglund”
Door county is a extremely popular place for guests. I believe you would enjoy it. Thanks for commenting.

sharmanlow 6 years in the past
oh, i might like to go to rock island.

I’ve even been in door county many occasions without realizing Rock Island was there.Having worked on another Rock Island for a few years I felt compelled to jot down 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 phenomenal place to visit. Voted up and beautiful, dahoglund!

Thank you for taking the time to learn it and remark.
Sa`ge 6 years in the past from Barefoot Island

a lot to learn so much to see if one can. thank you for showing all this to us who cannot. 🙂 hugs to you and yours 🙂

That is proper.Since an individual needs time to look around it’s best to go early.Thanks for further commenting.

Yes, I’d imagine so simply because it’s an island and possibly the scheduling back and forth isn’t that frequent…or is already absolutely booked.

Ironically we’ve got been up in that space more than once but time components 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 evaluation about the historical past of Rock Island in Wisconsin. Could be an awesome place to visit sometime. Voted helpful and up. Thanks!

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

This was so stunning hub. I really like one thing about lovely place. You describe this properly and also you make it in detail. 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 in the past from Wisconsin Rapids

Thanks for studying 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 national park. It is the state of Wisconsin that that helps and maintains it.

sounds an amazing place- after all there are uninhabited islands in Scotland, but for this for use as a national park is wonderful, particularly with entry by boat.

Thanks for an illuminating history and outline of the island