Lakeshore Logbook – Dave Chesky

Outer Island Light from the water

As part of our 50th Anniversary celebration, we are collecting and sharing the stories of people connected to the islands, whether they are park guests, former residents or former park employees.

This is the 20th in our series called “Lakeshore Logbook,” a collection of memories provided by former National Park Service employees.

Living and working in the park on a day to day basis, they’ve experienced a lot to be sure. We hope you enjoy their perspectives.

Dave Chesky worked as a Seasonal Park Ranger GS-5, during the 1978 and 1979 seasons.


What is the coolest thing you did in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (APIS) as part of your job?
My time spent as a ranger at the Outer Island light and fog horn station was definitely the coolest.  I was there alone for much of the time but also had maintenance and research people come out to stay for varying lengths of time.  Occasionally the weather would allow for visitors to dock and it was always very fun taking them on the spiral journey to the top of the lighthouse. 

Outer Island light stairs
Outer Island light stairs
Outer Island light
Fog horn building visible from the top of the Outer Island lighthouse

The winds at night would create eerie sounds in the keeper quarters where I lived and that took some getting used to.

What is the most fun experience you had in the park? 
Spending time with other rangers on days off was always fun.  A visit to Isle Royale was a very memorable experience spent with fellow park employees.  Picking blueberries in Julian Bay also ranks very high especially when later preparing whole wheat pancakes with loads of fresh picked blueberries in them!

visitors picking blueberries at Julian Bay on Stockton Island
Visitors picking blueberries at Julian Bay on Stockton Island

Please share a memorable experience you had in the park.  
Finding my way from the north end to the south end of Outer Island(6 miles) crossing over many beaver dams and trying the follow the remnants of an old logging road.  Sometimes this was necessary with a sizeable pack on my back in order to catch the Kiwatin back to Bayfield for days off because of rough seas on the north end.

Beaver dam on Outer Island
Beaver dam on Outer Island

What is the most amazing thing you saw in the park?
I think seeing the Outer Island light station for the first time will be forever etched in my memory.  The tall red clay banks in the foreground and the stately buildings perched up on top is a very impressive sight and I feel very fortunate to have been able to experience it.

Outer Island light
Outer Island light

Please share an accomplishment from your tenure at APIS that gives you pride. 
My being transferred to Stockton Island when the ranger there accepted a position at another park. It was a great opportunity to be in a position of more responsibility and have much more visitor contact.  I believe the transition went well and I was well received in my new position there. 

Dave Chesky sitting in the Little Sand Bay visitor center during seasonal training in 1979 listening to ranger Jeff Hepner
Dave Chesky sitting in the Little Sand Bay visitor center during seasonal training in 1979 listening to ranger Jeff Hepner

What story from your time at APIS do you share most frequently?
When I tell friends about the experience at APIS it is always about my time at the Outer Island light station.  It was such a unique experience being there alone and knowing that I was helping to interpret the history of the light keepers and protecting the investment the park had made in protecting and preserving it.  I was a very proud Ranger! 

If you could return to just one place in APIS, where would you go? Why?
The Outer Island Light Station!  It would be so fun to retrace some of my footsteps and relive such a cherished experience of a lifetime.


We want to thank Dave for his entry into our 50th Anniversary Lakeshore Logbook. We look forward to sharing more Logbook entries with you in the coming weeks. You can find the whole series here.