Shoreline stabilization to protect historic Apostle Islands buildings completed

An excavator operator moves the boulders into place

A high-priority shoreline stabilization project completed this month now protects historic buildings on Sand Island in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Extremely high water and wind-driven waves have gradually eroded the fragile clay shoreline in front of the historic West Bay Club. This property, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has been threatened since 2015. The erosion undermined and damaged the ice house building which was built near the shore in 1913.

This photograph, made in May of 2020 shows the eroded shoreline before the repair project began – NPS photo

Crews stabilized the structure last fall until the shoreline work could be completed. The goal of this project was to prevent further building damage and erosion.

Ice house stabilized and anchored in October of 2019 – NPS photo

Bad weather delayed the project but this month, crews transported tons of boulders from Bayfield aboard a World War II-era landing craft now named the Outer Island. This vessel has a long history in the area; the owners of the Lullaby Furniture Company used it to haul logs from the islands in the 1950s. The vessel is now used for dredging, setting docks and for projects like this one.

C&W Trucking of Bayfield provided the rock and excavator and the skilled operator to place the rock.  This is very skillful work: landing an excavator on an exposed beach, offloading 100 cubic yards of rock, and carefully placing the rock to form a solid line of armor stone is not an easy task. The operation took two days.

  • The LCT Outer Island departs Bayfield. Photo credit: Leonid Gurevich
  • The LCT Outer Island delivers rock and equipment to Sand Island
  • An excavator operator moves the boulders into place
  • Crews stabilized the damaged structure to prevent it from falling into the lake before these repairs were made
  • Anchored ice house
  • Building the historic West Bay Club Lodge
  • Historic West Bay Club Lodge
  • Collapsed shoreline, May 2020
  • Restored shoreline


This collaborative effort was made possible the Apostle Islands Historic Preservation Conservancy, Friends of the Apostle Islands, private donors interested in preserving the cultural story of Sand Island, national lakeshore staff and community businesses.

The AIHPC has proudly committed $29,470 to the the riparian work project and ice house restoration. All involved want to move our attention next to preserving the integrity of the icehouse and the main lodge at this beautiful location. 

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