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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 but I was unaware of this Rock Island till I ran across it in a e-book Ghost Towns of Wisconsin, by William E. Stark. For the massive part after we consider ghost towns we think of the boomtowns of the gold rush in the western states. Those are the ones which might be promoted essentially 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 journey 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 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 driven into the bottom for defense.

Explorers and missionaries from Europe used it as a cease alongside 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 close by Washington Island and abandoned the original village. There are nonetheless some grave markers of some of the original settlers and Lilac bushes planted by the original settlers nonetheless bloom close to what stays of the old houses.

From the 1830’s till the 1860’s a hundred folks of so lived here, however earlier than these white fishing villagers there was population on Rock Island. Frenchman Jean Nicolet went to Canada in 1618 and grew to become an Indian interpreter under Samuel de Champlain. He was commissioned by the French authorities to explore the west in 1634 when he was thirty-six years old. It’s unknown whether he really visited Rock Island but he was certainly close to it.

In August of that 12 months he, together with several Indians, left Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay in a canoe. They handed and probably stopped at Rock Island on the strategy to Inexperienced Bay they landed about ten miles north of the current city 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 great Lakes, was lost. In recent years wood 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 years.

Because the fur commerce grew to become much less vital in Wisconsin in the 19th Century the French were no longer there and after the Conflict of 1812 the British left as properly. There was nonetheless an Indian village on the island in the primary part of the nineteenth century however 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 nice Lakes
By 1832 thirty completely different homeowners 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) at the entrance of Inexperienced Bay in Lake Michigan.

A government crew came to the island 4 years later and constructed a forty-foot light tower. A house for the keeper was built as well. It was the primary lighthouse in Wisconsin. It was 1836 and Wisconsin turned 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 time residents settled there completely. They had been principally fisherman and some trappers. Other than Inexperienced Bay it was the primary settlement in northeastern Wisconsin.

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

Some Indian boys red stone island zip up were teasing the son of a widowed nurse about having to peel potatoes. The boy turned annoyed at the Indian boys outdoors his window and threw a potato at them. Because the potato flew through the glass window glass splinters caught the seven-yr-old son of a chief within the eyes.

A pacesetter of the colony took the mom of the boy who threw the potato to visit 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, but a severe confrontation was prevented. Relations between the Whites and the Indians really improved after the incident

Decline of Rock Island
The island was declining in mid-century. The main elements of Door County were starting to be extra populated. There was an absence of fine harbors and isolation tended to make life on the island much less enticing and regularly the settlers went to Washington Island or the mainland.

In 1863 a log schoolhouse was constructed but it was a bit late as there have been solely seven households left on the Island withthat had faculty age youngsters. The chief of the community, 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 producer 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 Inexperienced Bay islands and purchased all of Rock Island except for the lighthouse reservation. It was 1910 they usually bought about eighty acres for a bit over $5000.

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

Several stone cottages and a lodge constructed of logs have been also built. Thordarson entertained quite a lot of celebrities on the island.

The College of Wisconsin, in 1929, awarded him an honorary degree 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 out there however the park is primitive. There aren’t any facilities on the campground akin to showers, flush toilets or stores. No vehicles are allowed so campers must carry their gear about 1/3 mile to the campground from the boathouse landing. Flush toilets are available on the state park workplaces at Jackson Harbor.

Bring your own water, food, ice and anything else you need. Campfire wooden could be bought from the park.

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

Allow time. It’s a two-hour drive from Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Unless you might have your own boat the only way to get there may be 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 ago from Wisconsin Rapids
anniebetty, thanks for adding your information about Rock Island, Wisconsin. The name attracted my attention because I used to work at Rock Island, Illinois. I hope you proceed to enjoy the island.

anniebetty 4 years ago from Pennsylvania
We spend all of July on Washington Island, Wisconsin, yearly and have spent countless hours on Rock Island. It’s humorous, I’ve never thought-about it a ghost city, but I find your HUB attention-grabbing. We principally hike on Rock Island, but we have now also spent wonderful time on the sandy seashore. Sadly, lake ranges are so low now that one can pretty much stroll to Rock Island. We had been able to take our little fishing boat over final July, but I’m undecided what this July will deliver. Anyway, thanks for this well organized, acurate and informative HUB!

Ghost towns, I believe, mirror one thing of the culture and history of a location. As such, they might differ in places.Often they were non permanent to begin with, such as mining towns. Thanks for your remark.

Anaya M. Baker 5 years ago from North Carolina
Fascinating history! I was ready to visit a ghost town in New Mexico a number of months in the past, which was quite an interesting expertise, red stone island zip up though probably fairly completely different from the town you describe!

cabmgmnt, thanks for reading my hub and commenting. There are lots of interesting issues in our previous.
Corey 5 years ago from Northfield, MA

Very informatiove hub. I beloved 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 ago from Wisconsin Rapids
Hello Peggy,

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

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

I’m glad I could offer you 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 comment.Sorry I did not reply sooner however I missed the notification. I’m glad you enjoyed the hub.

beckyz 6 years in the past
Thanks for the fascinating history lesson. I’ve labored as a volunteer tour guide on the Pottawatomie lighthouse on Rock Island, which was rebuilt in 1858. It’s good to have extra info concerning the Indians and the fishing village. I’m aware 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 ebook that i read or a film that i noticed. The place must be very lovely. 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 very talked-about place for visitors. I think you would enjoy it. Thanks for commenting.

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

I’ve even been in door county many instances without realizing Rock Island was there.Having worked on another Rock Island for a few years I felt compelled to write down about it. Thanks for studying it, kittythederamer.

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

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

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

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

Sure, I would think about so simply because it’s an island and possibly the scheduling again and forth is just not that frequent…or is already absolutely booked.

Ironically we’ve been up in that space greater than once 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. Could be a terrific place to go to someday. Voted helpful and up. Thanks!

I respect the remark.I’m glad you enjoyed it.
prasetio30 6 years in the past from malang-indonesia

This was so stunning hub. I really like something about beautiful place. You describe this well and you make it intimately. Full with the history. I acquired new data 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 studying and commenting. There may be a difference 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.

sounds a tremendous place- after all there are uninhabited islands in Scotland, however for this for use as a national park is great, especially with access by boat.

Thanks for an illuminating historical past and description of the island