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Rock Island: Door County, Wisconsin’s Ghost Town

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Rock Island: Door County, Wisconsin’s Ghost Town
Up to date on September 26, 2012 Don A. Hoglund moreContact Author I labored at Rock Island, Illinois however 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 large part after we think of ghost towns we think of the boomtowns of the gold rush within the western states. These are those which might be promoted probably the most, however 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 turn 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 history of this island, which is now a state park. Stark’s e book describes it as “ important 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. 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 built 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, stone island export which was between Higher Michigan and Wisconsin. The first everlasting European settlement within the Door Peninsula was small fishing village on the eastern shore of the island. These settlers later moved to nearby Washington Island and abandoned the original village. There are still some grave markers of some of the original settlers and Lilac bushes planted by the original settlers still bloom close to what remains of the previous homes.

From the 1830’s until the 1860’s a hundred people of so lived here, but before 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 he actually visited Rock Island but he was certainly near it.

In August of that year he, along 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 present 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 nice Lakes, was misplaced. Lately 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 years.

As the fur trade became less important in Wisconsin within the nineteenth Century the French have been now not there and after the Warfare of 1812 the British left as properly. There was still 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 inhabitants of about forty,000 Indians and about three,000 whites.

Ships, lighthouse and commerce on the nice 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’s now referred to as Rock Island) at the entrance of Inexperienced Bay in Lake Michigan.

A authorities crew got here to the island 4 years later and constructed 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 have been Louis Labute and his spouse. With the completion of the lighthouse some summer time residents settled there completely. They have been principally fisherman and a few trappers. Aside from Inexperienced Bay it was the primary settlement in northeastern Wisconsin.

Tensions and decision
According to stark in his ebook, the whites and Indians have been getting alongside Okay if not shut. 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 at the Indian boys exterior his window and threw a potato at them. As the potato flew via the glass window glass splinters caught the seven-year-old 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 explained to the chief what had happened. The nurse mother helped the Indian boy to Stone Island Jumpers Jackets 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 actually improved after the incident

Decline of Rock Island
The island was declining in mid-century. The primary parts of Door County had been starting to be extra populated. There was an absence of fine harbors and isolation tended to make life on the island less attractive and gradually the settlers went to Washington Island or the mainland.

In 1863 a log schoolhouse was built but it was a bit late as there were only seven families left on the Island withthat had school age children. The leader of the neighborhood, John Boon, died and the last of the resident fishermen left the island in 1890. For the next decade only the lighthouse keeper was a permanent resident.

Chester Thordarson
An inventor and manufacturer Thordarson and his wife came to go to the Icelandic colony of Washington Island, as his father had been an immigrant from Iceland. They were very impressed with the Green Bay islands and purchased all of Rock Island aside from the lighthouse reservation. It was 1910 and they bought about 80 acres for slightly over $5000.

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

A number of stone cottages and a lodge constructed of logs were also built. Thordarson entertained a number 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 is camping available but the park is primitive. There are no facilities on the campground such as showers, flush toilets or shops. No autos are allowed so campers should carry their gear about 1/three mile to the campground from the boathouse touchdown. Flush toilets can be found on the state park offices at Jackson Harbor.

Deliver your personal water, meals, ice and the rest you want. Campfire wooden might be purchased from the park.

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

Permit time. It’s a two-hour drive from Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Until you could have your personal boat the one technique to get there’s 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 ago from Wisconsin Rapids
anniebetty, thanks for including your information about Rock Island, Wisconsin. The name attracted my consideration 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, every year and have spent countless hours on Rock Island. It’s funny, I’ve by no means considered it a ghost town, however I discover your HUB fascinating. We principally hike on Rock Island, however now we have also spent fantastic time on the sandy beach. Unfortunately, lake levels are so low now that one can pretty much stroll to Rock Island. We have been able to take our little fishing boat over final July, but I am unsure what this July will deliver. Anyway, thanks for this well organized, acurate and informative HUB!

Ghost towns, I think, mirror something of the culture and history of a location. As such, they’d differ in places.Often they were short-term to start with, such as mining towns. Thanks for your comment.

Anaya M. Baker 5 years ago from North Carolina
Fascinating history! I was ready to visit a ghost town in New Mexico just a few months in the past, which was fairly an fascinating expertise, though probably quite different from the town you describe!

cabmgmnt, thanks for reading my hub and commenting. There are many interesting things 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 mother helping the Indian boy. charming hub!

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

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

Hi Don,
Got here again so that I could hit the SHARE with my followers so that more people can learn of this island through your writing.

I’m glad I could give you some information you didn’t have.Wisconsin is my adopted state though I’ve lived most of my life in neighboring states.

Thank you for the remark.Sorry I did not answer sooner but I missed the notification. I am glad you enjoyed the hub.

beckyz 6 years ago
Thanks for the interesting history lesson. I’ve labored as a volunteer tour information on the Pottawatomie lighthouse on Rock Island, which was rebuilt in 1858. It is good to have extra information in regards to the Indians and the fishing village. I’m aware that some lighthouse keeper’s wives taught school at the lighthouse, but 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 guests.Thanks for commenting.
Carolina 6 years in the past from Switzerland

I heard about Rock Island. It was from a book that i read or a film that i saw. The place must be very beautiful. Thanks for sharing about this Island.

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

I’m actually loved this hub, thanks for sharing “dahoglund”
Door county is a very talked-about place for visitors. I think you would take pleasure Official in it. Thanks for commenting.

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

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

Nicole Canfield 6 years ago from the Ether
Wow, I had no thought this place even existed! It looks like an attractive place to visit. Voted up and beautiful, dahoglund!

Thank you for taking the time to learn it and comment.
Sa`ge 6 years ago from Barefoot Island

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

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

Sure, I would think about so just because it is an island and possibly the scheduling again and forth shouldn’t be that frequent…or is already totally booked.

Ironically we’ve 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 in the past from Houston, Texas
What an exquisite overview in regards to the historical past of Rock Island in Wisconsin. Could be an awesome place to go to someday. Voted helpful and up. Thanks!

I admire the remark.I am glad you enjoyed it.
prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

This was so beautiful hub. I love something about beautiful place. You describe this effectively and also you make it intimately. Complete with the historical past. I got new knowledge 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 difference 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 supports and maintains it.


Stone Island Nylon Down Vest Burlywood 2015

sounds an incredible place- in fact there are uninhabited islands in Scotland, but for this to be used as a national park is wonderful, especially with access by boat.

Thanks for an illuminating history and description of the island

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