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 sixth stop on our digital tour, Neil is on Oak Island. The island rises to 1081 feet above sea level, making it one of the tallest points in the national lakeshore. The island is a little more than 5,000 acres in size. It’s located directly off-shore from the Red Cliff Reservation at 46.9297° N, 90.7144° W.
Neil is at the Hole-in-the-Wall on the north side of Oak Island. Since the last glaciers retreated about 10,000 years ago, lake waters have carved and shaped island shorelines. This process of erosion happens every day, sometimes in dramatic fashion. The Hole-in-the Wall arch on the north side of Oak Island is an excellent example. Sometime during the winter of 2009-2010 a combination of wind, waves, freezing and thawing caused the arch to collapse. Though no longer an arch, Neil says he supposes it still is a hole in the wall.
Oak Island, also known to the Ojibwe as Mitigominikang Miniss (Acorn Island), features one of the tallest bluffs along Wisconsin’s Lake Superior shoreline. The bluff is composed of layers of sand, pebbles and clay contained in the glacial till left behind by melting glaciers. A trail leads to an overlook at the top of the bluff, from which you can see 11 islands and the Hole-in-the-wall.
Oak island offers five individual camp sites and two group camp sites. Click here to learn more about the sites. You can learn more about Oak Island here, in a National Park Service publication. (Adobe Acrobat Reader required.)
Oak Island is one of the larger 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.