Lakeshore Logbook – Dave Wilkins

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 27th 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 Wilkins started as a seasonal small craft operator then became the Marines and Grounds Supervisor. His career in the park began in 2002.


What is the coolest thing you did in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (APIS) as part of your job?
Tough one, guess I’ll go with writing the specs and overseeing the construction of the 47′ Phoenix, and the trip out to Seattle for sea trials. Training and operating the air boat is also high on the list.

NPS Phoenix

What is the most-fun experience you had in the park? 
What is the most fun I had, wow, where do you start, especially when every day is a “Holiday.” I really can’t nail this one down but all of the fun I had at the Apostles was due to my co-workers, we really had/have awesome employees!I have lots of memorable experiences but one that sticks out is the “Whitefish Day Potluck” we had at Roys Point, the turn out, the fun, and the special greetings we all gave Ben Marquardt.  

Please share a memorable experience you had in the park.
The most amazing thing I saw was the passion all the employees had for their jobs no matter what division they were in.

Dave inspecting a Stockton Island campsite and showing how much he loves his job

Please share an accomplishment from your tenure at APIS that gives you pride. 
I have two accomplishments I”m proud of, first bringing a better class of boat into the program, which were far better suitable for your missions/tasks, and more economical to operate. Second I was proud that as The Marines and Grounds Supervisor that we were able to complete our projects on time and under budget.

The fleet of Munsen boats that Dave helped the park obtain
Dave on an NPS boat at Stockton Island

What story about the park do you share most frequently?
Describing the Ice cave event of 2014.

NPS rangers interact with the public during the ice cave season of 2014

If you could return to just one place at APIS where would you go?
Devils Island, just an incredible place. As a part-time Captain for the cruise service I’m still in awe of the passengers’ reaction when we arrive.

Apostle Islands cruise boat at Devils Island

Dave retired in 2016. We want to thank him 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.