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Rock Island: Door County, Wisconsin’s Ghost City

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Rock Island: Door County, Wisconsin’s Ghost Town
Updated on September 26, 2012 Don A. Hoglund moreContact Writer I worked at Rock Island, Illinois but I was unaware of this Rock Island until I ran across it in a ebook Ghost Towns of Wisconsin, by William E. Stark. For the big half after we consider ghost towns we think of the boomtowns of the gold rush within the western states. These are the ones that are promoted 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 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 trip from the tip of the Door County peninsula.

Like most things, 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 “ essential stepping stone between Mackinac, Green Bay and the areas south and west.”

Moon Wisconsin’s Door County (Travel Guide) Purchase Now Rock Island Origins
Archeological findings present 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 constructed a palisade village, that’s, a village surrounded by stakes pushed into the bottom for protection.

Explorers and missionaries from Europe used it as a cease along the Grand Traverse route, which was between Higher Michigan and Wisconsin. The first permanent European settlement in the Door Peninsula was small fishing village on the japanese shore of the island. These settlers later moved to close by Washington Island and abandoned the original 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of the unique settlers and Lilac bushes planted by the original settlers nonetheless bloom close to what stays of the outdated houses.

From the 1830’s until the 1860’s 100 folks of so lived here, but earlier than these white fishing villagers there was inhabitants on Rock Island. Frenchman Jean Nicolet went to Canada in 1618 and grew to become an Indian interpreter beneath 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 he actually visited Rock Island but he was certainly near it.

In August of that yr he, together with several Indians, left Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay in a canoe. They passed and probably stopped at Rock Island on the option 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 men spent the winter of 1678 there while their ship, which was the first on the good Lakes, was lost. Lately wooden plank from the unique Potawatomi palisade and a few buttons from a French officer’s military greatcoat and British clay pipes have been discovered in recent years.

Because the fur trade turned less necessary in Wisconsin within the nineteenth Century the French were now not there and after the Battle of 1812 the British left as effectively. There was nonetheless an Indian village on the island in the primary part of the nineteenth century but not many whites visited or lived on the island. In 1830 the territory had a population of about forty,000 Indians and about 3,000 whites.

Ships, lighthouse and commerce on the good Lakes
By 1832 thirty completely different owners 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 is now referred to as 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 gentle tower. A home for the keeper was built as properly. It was the first lighthouse in Wisconsin. It was 1836 and Wisconsin grew to become Wisconsin Territory.

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

Tensions and resolution
According to stark in his book, the whites and Indians have been getting alongside Okay if not close. 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 peel potatoes. The boy grew to become annoyed on the Indian boys exterior his window and threw a potato at them. Because the potato flew by way of the glass window glass splinters caught the seven-12 months-outdated son of a chief within the eyes.

A pacesetter of the colony took the mother of the boy who threw the potato to visit the Indian chief. He explained to the chief what had occurred. The nurse mother helped the Indian boy to relieve ache. The Indian boy did lose sight in that one eye, but a critical confrontation was averted. Relations between the Whites and the Indians actually improved after the incident

Decline of Rock Island
The island was declining in mid-century. The main elements of Door County have been beginning to be extra populated. There was a scarcity of excellent harbors and isolation tended to make life on the island much less enticing and progressively the settlers went to Washington Island or the mainland.

In 1863 a log schoolhouse was constructed however it was a bit late as there have been only seven households left on the Island withthat had college age kids. The chief of the group, John Boon, died and the final of the resident fishermen left the island in 1890. For the following 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 have been very impressed with the Inexperienced Bay islands and purchased all of Rock Island aside from the lighthouse reservation. It was 1910 and so they bought about eighty acres for a little bit over $5000.

He had an old body home rebuilt within the fishing village, which was now deserted. He also had a stone water tower built. A boathouse and nice hall value a quarter or one million dollars and resembles an ancient Viking corridor. Twenty masons took three years to construct it.

Several stone cottages and a lodge constructed of logs were additionally built. 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 more rugged there may be camping obtainable however the park is primitive. There are no facilities on the campground akin to showers, flush toilets or stores. No vehicles are allowed so campers must carry their gear about 1/three mile to the campground from the boathouse landing. Flush toilets are available on the state park workplaces at Jackson Harbor.

Convey your own water, food, ice and anything else you want. Campfire wood might be purchased from the park.

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

Allow time. It is a two-hour drive from Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Until you could have your own boat the only approach to get there is on the Washington Island Ferry Line.

Rock Island, WI – Rock Island, Washington, WI, USA get instructions
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sendingAuthorDon A. Hoglund four years ago from Wisconsin Rapids
anniebetty, thanks for including your information about Rock Island, Wisconsin. The identify attracted my consideration as a result of I used to work at Rock Island, Illinois. I hope you continue to enjoy the island.

anniebetty 4 years in the past from Pennsylvania
We spend all of July on Washington Island, Wisconsin, every year and have spent numerous hours on Rock Island. It’s humorous, I’ve by no means thought-about it a ghost town, but I find your HUB interesting. We principally hike on Rock Island, but we have additionally spent fantastic time on the sandy seaside. Unfortunately, lake ranges are so low now that one can pretty much stroll to Rock Island. We were capable of take our little fishing boat over last July, however I’m unsure what this July will convey. Anyway, thanks for this well organized, acurate and informative HUB!

Ghost towns, I feel, reflect one thing of the tradition and history of a location. As such, they would differ in locations.Usually they were temporary to begin with, similar to mining towns. Thanks for your remark.

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

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

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

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

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

Came again so that I might hit the SHARE with my followers so that extra folks can study of this island through your writing.

I’m glad I could provide you with some data you did not have.Wisconsin is my adopted state though I have 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 enjoyed the hub.

beckyz 6 years in the past
Thanks for the interesting historical past lesson. I’ve labored as a volunteer tour guide on the Pottawatomie lighthouse on Rock Island, which was rebuilt in 1858. It is nice to have more data about the Indians and the fishing village. I am conscious that some lighthouse keeper’s wives taught college at the lighthouse, but hadn’t heard a couple of log schoolhouse on the island. Thanks once more for an fascinating article.

Door county stone island sale old street is a popular place in Wisconsin for guests.Thanks for commenting.
Carolina 6 years ago from Switzerland

I heard about Rock Island. It was from a e book that i learn or a movie that i noticed. The place should be very lovely. Thanks for sharing about this Island.

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

I am actually loved this hub, thanks for sharing “dahoglund”
Door county is a very popular place for visitors. I believe you’d enjoy it. Thanks for commenting.

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

I’ve even been in door county many times without realizing Rock Island was there.Having labored on one other Rock Island for many years I felt compelled to write down about it. Thanks for reading it, kittythederamer.

Nicole Canfield 6 years ago from the Ether
Wow, I had no idea this place even existed! It seems like a gorgeous place to visit. Voted up and lovely, dahoglund!

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

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

That is right.Since a person needs time to look around it is best to go early.Thanks for additional commenting.

Sure, I might imagine so simply because it’s an island and doubtless the scheduling back and forth just isn’t that frequent…or is already totally booked.

Ironically we have been up in that space more than as soon as but 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 assessment concerning the historical past of Rock Island in Wisconsin. Could be a great place to visit sometime. Voted helpful and up. Thanks!

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

This was so lovely hub. I like one thing about beautiful place. You describe this nicely and you make it intimately. Full with the historical past. I got new information from this hub. Thanks for writing and share with us. You got 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 as opposed to a nationwide park. It’s the state of Wisconsin that that helps and maintains it.

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

Thanks for an illuminating history and outline of the island

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