As part of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, we’re going on a virtual tour with Neil Howk, a man who has spent decades exploring the islands and teaching people about what makes them special. He knows the islands like the back of his hand.
At the fifth stop on our digital tour, Neil is on York Island. Also known to the Ojibwe as Miskwabimijikag Miniss (Willow Tree Island), this island features a lovely sand beach on its north-facing bay. It’s located to the east of Sand Island, on the western side of the archipelago at 46.9833° N, 90.8622° W.
York Island is an example of the rich history you’ll find on the islands, and a fitting stop as we prepare for Memorial Day. The Alden and Eleanor Allen family owned York Island for more than 30 years before the island was acquired to become part of the national lakeshore.
York was a special place for Merlin Allen who lived at Little Sand Bay and graduated from Bayfield High School in 1965. After high school Merlin joined the Marines and served in Vietnam, where his helicopter was shot down in 1967. More than 40 years later, his remains were identified and returned to his family.
46 years after his death, Merlin was buried next to his mother and father on York Island in a small plot still held by the Town of Russell. In observance of Memorial Day, we honor Merlin’s ultimate sacrifice. Read more about Merlin Allen here.
York Island offers three campsites on the northern end of the island. Click here to learn more about the sites.
York is one of the smaller islands and there’s lots more to explore! Look for another digital adventure next week. To play along, simply like the Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Facebook page and check back next Wednesday for the clue to next week’s location. Make a guess in the comments and we’ll post the answer on Thursday. Click here to learn about Neil.