Lakeshore Logbook – Ian Williams

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 21st 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.

Ian Williams served as Stockton Island Ranger during the summers of 1988 and 1989. 


It’s strange to think that APIS was still a fairly young park when I worked there. The year I started was the year we moved into the new buildings on Stockton.  It took the park 18 years to get to that point.  I was the last ranger to live in the old fish camp and the first to live in the new ranger station.

Class of '89 - Ian is 3rd from the left in the second row
Class of ’89 – Ian is 3rd from the left in the second row

What is the coolest thing you did in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (APIS) as part of your job? 
Running boats on Lake Superior.

Ian Williams and Stan Bressette in the Mallard at Presque Isle 1989
Ian Williams and Stan Bressette in the Mallard at Presque Isle 1989

What is the most fun experience you had in the park? 
SCUBA diving on the wreck of the NOQUEBAY.

Please share a memorable experience you had in the park. 
Trapping a problem black bear that had broken into park housing and relocating him to the Chequamegon only to have him swim back to Stockton.

Black bear on the Presque Isle dock at Stockton Island
Black bear on the Presque Isle dock at Stockton Island

What is the most amazing thing you saw in the park? 
The Northern Lights from the dock at Presque Isle.

Please share an accomplishment from your tenure at APIS that gives you pride. 
After 31 years, there are few people who would remember me and probably little that I did that still remains.  But if the exhibits in the Stockton Islands Visitor Center haven’t changed, Terry Daulton and I got to do the editing on those.  If there’s a turtle exhibit that starts off with, “Is it a boy or a girl?,” that line was mine. 

The painted turtle exhibit in the Stockton visitor center
The painted turtle exhibit in the Stockton visitor center

What story from your time at APIS do you share most frequently? 
What I’ve probably described to people most frequently is how the lake acted as a heat sink and delayed the turn of the seasons.  In the Spring the trees would leaf out inland before they did on the lake and in the Fall the leaves would turn color and drop inland, but still be in blazing color around the lake.  I always enjoyed how long the colors lasted.

Fall colors in the islands
Fall colors in the islands

If you could return to just one place in APIS, where would you go? Why? 
I’d love to go back on a flat, calm day and paddle my canoe around Presque Isle and along the sea cliffs north of Julian Bay.  It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and I was always enchanted by how still the lake could be at times.

Ian Williams departing Stockton in the SORA - end of the season
Ian Williams departing Stockton in the SORA – end of the season

Ian now works at Channel Islands National Park as a Safety & Occupational Health Specialist. We want to thank Ian 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.

Real-time wave information expands for paddlers and boaters in the Apostle Islands

APOSTLE ISLANDS NATIONAL LAKESHORE, WISCONSIN (Wisconsin Sea Grant News Release)  – The brains behind the SeaCavesWatch.org website have developed a new website that offers real-time wave condition information for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Lake Superior.

Before venturing onto the lake, paddlers and boaters should check WISC-Watch, which stands for Water Information for a Safe Coast Watch. The WISC-Watch site provides information from seven spotter buoys recently deployed throughout the islands, plus Chequamegon Bay near Ashland and Siskiwit Bay near Cornucopia. The buoys monitor wave height, water temperature and wind information.

Screen shot from new wave monitoring tool. Click on a little yellow buoy or on the navigation panel on the page to see data about that location. Start here: https://go.wisc.edu/7y2x4o.

“Apostle Islands National Lakeshore offers world-class sea kayaking and sailing in a remote environment,” said Lynne Dominy, park superintendent. “But treacherous waves and frigid water temperatures can imperil boaters. We hope boaters will use this system to assess current conditions and to make good decisions before venturing out on Lake Superior.”

APIS Superintendent Lynne Dominy

The site was developed as part of a yearlong project by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wisconsin Sea Grant with advice from the National Park Service and the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program.

Sarah Peterson, a Ph.D. student at UW-Madison, holds one of the spotter sensors deployed in the Apostle Islands for the WISC-Watch Project. Image credit: Chin Wu

Chin Wu, project leader and a professor in the UW-Madison Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said spotter buoys were deployed in mid-June at the mainland sea caves, Sand Island, Devil’s Island, Stockton Island and southeast of Madeline Island, in addition to Chequamegon Bay and Siskiwit Bay.

“Besides the mainland sea caves, real-time measurements of wave heights and water temperatures have never been provided at these locations before,” Wu said. “The data we collect will also help us make nearshore wave and current forecast models operational.”

Screen shot of wave height data from the buoy at the Mainland Sea Caves.
Screen shot of water surface temperature data from the buoy at the Mainland Sea Caves.

Next summer, a team led by Natalie Chin, Wisconsin Sea Grant climate and tourism outreach specialist, and Todd Breiby with the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, will conduct a public survey to assess and evaluate the best ways to communicate real-time wave information. This could lead to refinements to the website and buoy locations.

Water conditions around the 22 Apostle Islands vary dramatically due to sheltering effects from the archipelago and rapidly changing winds and fast-moving storms. Recent boating accidents are an unpleasant reminder of the dangers. Under certain conditions, freak waves, which can tower more than 10-feet tall, or unexpected dangerous currents can also occur.

The WISC-Watch Project was funded by the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, Wisconsin Sea Grant and the UW-Madison Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Other project partners include the National Park Service, the National Weather Service in Duluth, the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, the cities of Bayfield and Ashland, Northland College, the Lake Superior Nearshore Working Group, the Friends of the Apostle Islands and local outfitters.

Additional team members include Mike Friis with the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, Jim Hurley and Marie Zhuikov with Wisconsin Sea Grant, Julie Van Stappen and Karl Carlson with the National Park Service, Josh Anderson with UW-Madison, and Mary Monroe Brown and Julieann Fox with Travel Wisconsin.

Lakeshore Logbook – Dave Chesky

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.

Lakeshore Logbook – Daniel Blankenship

Daniel Blankenship
Daniel Blankenship

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 19th 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.

Daniel Blankenship worked in the park from 2008 to 2014. He worked for the interpretive division of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Over the summers at the park he was stationed at Stockton Island where he presented formal programs, provided guided activities, managed the marina/campground, and led kayaking tours around the island. Daniel also worked at Raspberry Island where he gave tours and at Little Sand Bay/Meyers Beach where he assisted with monitoring kayaker safety.


What is the coolest thing you did in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (APIS) as part of your job? 
I got to lead kayaking trips around Stockton Island, and worked with visitors to teach people how to roll their kayaks in Presque Isle Bay.

Dan (in the blue kayak) with a group of paddlers at the mainland sea caves
Dan (in the blue kayak) with a group of paddlers at the mainland sea caves

What is the most fun experience you had in the park? 
The most fun I had while working involved my days out on Stockton Island.  My typical day was full of entertainment because of the wonderful park visitors we had returning year after year.  I would get to know the families on a personal level and it was thrilling to greet them summer after summer.

Dan doing a campfire program at the Stockton Island campfire circle
Dan using a bow drill to start his campfire for an evening programDan doing a campfire program at the Stockton Island campfire circle

I would check in with them, go for hikes with them, engage them with evening programs, and lastly -my favorite- I would go kayaking with them around the tombolo of Stockton to the sea caves and various beaches. 

Dan building a fire for his evening program at Stockton Island
Dan building a fire for his evening program at Stockton Island

I remember one summer the winter storms had uncovered the Noquebay shipwreck in Julian Bay.  I would lead people to the wreckage, out to where we would swim and snorkel to see the donkey boiler and other parts of the ship emerge from the sands. It was a wonderful job.

Please share a memorable experience you had in the park. 
I remember being involved with so many boating emergencies or disasters. I remember a sailboat getting stuck outside of the marina because a rope was thrown and got sucked into the prop. In a summer storm, a yacht anchored out in Julian Bay got washed ashore. But some of the most memorable (and worst memories) are associated with the knot that would develop in my gut after I would hear the park’s dispatcher radio that there was a kayaker missing.  Lake Superior is an incredible force; especially when the summer storms rip over and around the Bayfield Peninsula.  

What is the most amazing thing you saw in the park? 
On one of my last years working at the park before I moved on to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, I remember paddling from Presque Isle Ranger Station to Quarry Bay. I was paddling to the bay with a  group of campers that brought their own kayaks. There were these rolling slow waves rocking me and setting the pace for a relaxed afternoon.  As I pulled myself along we were having casual conversations and I was answering questions about the islands.  I don’t believe I was the first person to see it.  I think it was a visitor that said, “What is that in the water over there?” 

Before I saw what they were talking about I heard it.

Huff. Puff. Huff. Puff.

Then I finally saw a shape materialize out of the swells. I stopped for the longest time, squinting and staring. What is that?

As soon as I realized what the shape was it made sense.  A black bear swimming between islands. It paid no mind to us but was leaving Stockton Island and making it’s why south toward Madeline Island.

A bear swimming to Oak Island

In my head I felt like it was really close, but in reality the bear was pretty far away. The noise of its breathing was being carried across the open water.  It was such an amazing experience to see and hear. After it became a black speck on the verge of disappearing we could still hear the huffing and puffing of its panting over the silence of the lake.

Please share an accomplishment from your tenure at APIS that gives you pride. 
There are too many to count. In reflecting upon experiences among the islands, I deeply appreciate every moment I got the privilege to work there. I think the coolest thing I got to do FOR the park was art.  I painted a Greco-roman frieze of fish species of lake superior that was hung over a fishery display and I did some drawings that were incorporated in the Junior Ranger booklet.  

Large Mouth Bass
Large Mouth Bass

What story from your time at APIS do you share most frequently?
The story that I tell the most would have to be leading a 7 day kayaking tour among the islands for a kayaking outfitter.  On Day 6, late in the day it was forecast to be rough waters and strong winds but early in the day it was supposed to be clear weather – or so said the weather radio.  We ate lunch at the northern side of Basswood Island and after lunch we started a crossing to the southern tip of Oak Island.  I was not the lead kayaker for the day so I was hanging back and “corralling” kayakers, keeping them in a group as we made the crossing. Over halfway to Oak Island, there was some commotion among the kayakers. Looking to the northwest we could see white-caps coming towards us down the north channel, the strong winds were coming much earlier than forecasted – evidence of Lake Superior’s unpredictability. As the waves hit our group, everyone was immediately unnerved.

The Libra XT kayaks are tandem boats that are wide and stable.  With the whitecaps hitting the tandem boats there was never a doubt that the boats were sound and wouldn’t flip – which they didn’t. But the bow of the boats are designed to be high for cresting through the waves. However, this high bow design was catching the wind and fighting our patrons’ ability to steer. Immediately, the other guides and me went to work keeping the group together to continue the crossing.

At one point I hear over the wind and the waves, “Daniel, they are getting away!  Get them!”

Two teenagers had insisted all trip to paddle together. Every day of the trip, “Can we paddle together?” And every day their request to paddle together was denied. However, today it was granted for the calm morning and early afternoon portion of our trip. But now, with the sudden and changed conditions, the two were being pushed off course from our intended landing point. The winds turned their boat downwind and wasn’t allowing them to correct their course; they couldn’t remain aimed north to Oak Island.  I knew what I had to do.

Like some kind of sheep dog in a boat, I sprinted through the waves, surfing my kayak, and caught up to the teenagers that were leaving the flock. I got in front of them and pulled up to the bow of their boat, leaned into it to form a “T” and immediately clipped in my tow belt.  I was out of breathe from sprinting in my kayak.

“Ya’ll,” huff huff, “alright?”

“Yeah. What do we do, the rudders not working.”

“The rudder,” huff puff, “…will only work if you are going…” huff, “…going forward. I’m going…” swallow, “…going to help.”

I then described to them that I was going to use the tow belt to help correct their course and pull them so that they are facing into the wind to get them back to the group. Towing a kayak can be tricky though, especially as a guide.  You want to assist the other boat but you don’t want to tow them completely on your own.  If you do try to muscle both boats, you can exhaust yourself in no time. And if you are exhausted, you won’t be any assistance at all and will only endanger yourself and your patrons.

“This…  huff huff …Isn’t a free ride.  I need both of you… …to paddle forwards.  Ok?”

They stared blankly at me.

“I can’t paddle both our boats.  So I need you to paddle.”

Still no head nods or any gesture that would lead me to believe that they understood what I was trying to convey to them.  One more time louder?

“I need you to paddle forwar… NOT NOW!”  Immediately, the teenager in the front of the boat took a strong paddle stroke forward just as a wave was crashing into the stern of their big kayak. The mixture of the paddle stroke and the wave pushed the bow of their kayak into my ribs and proceeded to push me over. The momentum of their kayak sat their boat on top of mine pinning me upside down in the water.

It felt like forever that I was upside down, but in reality it was only moments.  In my head I was thinking, ‘Am I really going to have to wet exit?” – a maneuver for getting out of the kayak by pulling the skirt off the cockpit and sliding out of it like taking off a pair of pants. But then, from a perspective of being upside down, looking at their boat’s bow seated on the bottom of my kayak, approximately where my butt was, I could see their paddles flashing in the water. They were making reverse strokes and they were pulling themselves off my kayak!

‘Thank you teenagers!’ I rolled up to one side, set up my paddle, hip snapped, rolled the kayak and popped up out of the water gasping for air.  I was only under the water for seconds, but in that time apparently there was emotional devastation.

The other guides of the trip and myself had spent days telling all of our patrons that Lake Superior is a body of water to be respected.  We needed to be careful and stay as a group. If conditions and circumstances popped up, we were to handle everything as a group. Lake Superior could have deadly consequences to those that didn’t respect it. Lake Superior is deadly. We had hammered these messages into our visitors so that they would be cautious while on the water.  We hammered into them these messages so well that for two teenagers, the sight of their boat tipping me over and then pinning me underwater there was only one revelation…

“WE THOUGHT WE KILLED YOU!”  Screamed the teenager in the front of the boat. They both were crying and sobbing hysterically.

I thought about their shouted words a lot throughout the summers. It started as I paddled them back to the flock of boats where they were welcomed.  “We thought we killed you,” seemed to be a very escalated response to something that happened so fast.  Almost comical. But I thought about their words every trip that I took on the waters of Lake Superior after that because those words have a deeper meaning. Things can change so fast on Lake Superior. It was tens of minutes from beautiful weather to white caps. It was minutes from all of our boats being together to there being a straggler. And it was seconds between those teenagers thinking that they were being rescued to thinking that they had just accidentally killed their rescuer.

If you could return to just one place in APIS, where would you go? Why? 

I would go back to Stockton Island to see the ranger station. 

I would want to revisit the place I would sit and read all night long, the trails that I would jog on a daily basis, my favorite spot to enjoy Julian Bay Beach and the places I would dive off the rocks to go swimming in the cold water.  My memories of the summers among the islands play out like a film in my mind.

Warm days, fun adventures, work that felt more like fun than work are memories that are tied up in a mental narration that became my introduction to being a park ranger.

Dan working at the park's Apple Fest booth
Dan working at the park’s Applefest booth

We want to thank Dan 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.

History Mystery: Who is considered the “father of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore?”

A Legacy of stewardship. 

Gaylord Nelson was born in Clear Lake, Wisconsin on June 4, 1919.  Nelson was elected to the Wisconsin State Senate in 1948 and held that office for a decade before becoming the Governor of the state. After two terms as Governor, he was elected to the US Senate in 1962 where he served until 1981. 

Gaylord Nelson
Gaylord Nelson

In 1969, then US Senator from Wisconsin, Nelson formulated one of the most powerful ideas of the century.  On April 22, 1970 the first Earth Day was a resounding success, celebrated by 20 million people across the US who came together in their communities to support the environment. The American Heritage Magazine called this first Earth Day “one of the most remarkable happenings in the history of democracy.” Earth Day, now an annual international event, continues to inspire environmental movements around the globe.  

“Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures.” 

Gaylord Nelson on Stockton Island
Gaylord Nelson on Stockton Island

 Long before the idea of the first Earth Day, this tireless champion of the people and the environment, cultivated a dream to preserve the magical landscape of the Apostle Islands. He sought to safeguard the undeveloped shorelines, red sandstone cliffs, unique landforms, flora, and fauna of this special place.  

This love of the natural environment and concern for the wellness of all through conservation was well received in Washington. Both Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, and President John F. Kennedy recognized the value in developing a national recreation area in the Chequamegon Bay region and traveled to Ashland in 1963, flying over the Apostle Islands as part of a national conservation tour.

resident Kennedy and Gaylord Nelson (right side of photo) at the Ashland, Wisconsin airport in 1963
President Kennedy and Gaylord Nelson (right side of photo) at the Ashland, Wisconsin airport in 1963

Years of negotiation, compromise and collaboration came to fruition on September 26, 1970 when President Richard Nixon signed legislation creating the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The bill included 20 islands and a 12-mile strip of mainland containing the sea caves. 

 “This is a unique collection of islands…..there is not another collection of islands of this significance within the continental boundaries of the United States. I think it is tremendously important that this collection of islands be preserved.” 

gaylord nelson
Gaylord Nelson
Gaylord Nelson at Quarry Bay on Stockton Island in 2003

 Gaylord Nelson’s determined efforts to preserve this region cause many to consider him the “father of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore”.

NPS Midwest Regional Director William Schenk makes Gaylord Nelson an honorary park ranger in 2002
NPS Midwest Regional Director William Schenk makes Gaylord Nelson an honorary park ranger in 2002

On December 8, 2004, the Gaylord Nelson Wilderness was created as President George W. Bush signed legislation designating 80% of the land area of the Apostle Island National Lakeshore as Wilderness. 

Gaylord Nelson at book signing in 2004
Gaylord Nelson at book signing in 2004

The Apostle Islands are full of beauty, adventure, and wildlife; they also have a rich and varied history. This summer, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the park, we are exploring that history with a little help from some friends: large, nearly life-sized standing poster board images of lighthouse keepers and sailors and ship captains and island lovers and more. Each one will ask you a question, present a mystery of island history, and offer you a QR code to explore the answer.

So look for the cardboard cutouts popping up in local shops, on the ferry, in the parks, all over town, and when you find them, introduce yourself, look for the question, and explore the answer to one of the History Mysteries of the Apostle Islands. Then join us at Friendsoftheapostleislands.org to support the protection of the islands, their beauty, their adventure, their wildlife, and their history.

History Mystery: How did his support for the park cost Julian Nelson a job?

Julian Nelson was born in Bayfield in 1916.  His father moved to Bayfield from Bergen, Norway in 1897 and took a job with the Booth fish company.  He eventually became an independent commercial fisherman operating out of a fish camp in Julian Bay on Stockton Island.  

His sister watches Julian work on a gill net at his fish camp
His sister watches Julian work on a gill net at his fish camp

In 1938, at the age of 22, Julian bought out his father’s fishing business.  Julian bought property on Rocky Island in 1947 and moved his fishing cabin there from Stockton Island on a barge. 

Moving the Nelson cabin from Stockton to Rocky Island in 1947
Moving the Nelson cabin from Stockton to Rocky Island in 1947
Julian Nelson works on a gill net
Julian Nelson works on a gill net

 He continued working as a commercial fisherman until the 1960s when the fishery collapsed due to over-fishing and predation from sea lampreys.  

Julian Nelson works on a gill net in front of his cabin
Julian Nelson works on a gill net in front of his cabin

He then went to work on the Madeline Island Ferry. Julian operated ferry boats for eighteen years until he retired in 1980. 

In the mid-1960s Julian was also the mayor of Bayfield.  He recalled that… 

“I guess I became concerned about the use of natural resources back in the forties and fifties when I saw how that resource of all the fish in the lake was being mistreated. And that’s what really made me kinda think of what could happen to other resources that we have.  And when I saw how that fish was treated, I thought there’s some other resources that we need to maybe take a look at, and those resources were the islands, the lake and the landscape.  

So my decision was based on what would do the most good for the most number of people, and in either 1966 or 67 when the congressional hearings on the park were held in Ashland, I took the position to support the park.  It was not a popular position… and so the following election I was not elected back. But since then, I’m very comfortable with the position I took, and I grow more comfortable every day.“ 

Julian Nelson leaving the family cabin on Rocky Island in 2012
Julian Nelson leaving the family cabin on Rocky Island in 2012

 Julian was 100 years old when he passed away in 2017.


The Apostle Islands are full of beauty, adventure, and wildlife; they also have a rich and varied history. This summer, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the park, we are exploring that history with a little help from some friends: large, nearly life-sized standing poster board images of lighthouse keepers and sailors and ship captains and island lovers and more. Each one will ask you a question, present a mystery of island history, and offer you a QR code to explore the answer.

So look for the cardboard cutouts popping up in local shops, on the ferry, in the parks, all over town, and when you find them, introduce yourself, look for the question, and explore the answer to one of the History Mysteries of the Apostle Islands. Then join us at Friendsoftheapostleislands.org to support the protection of the islands, their beauty, their adventure, their wildlife, and their history.

This month: 50th Anniversary exhibit at Washburn Cultural Center

Visit the Washburn Cultural Center in June to explore and enjoy the intersection of art, poetry and science.

The “A is for Apostle Islands” and “Island Intersections” exhibit displays the poetry and visual artwork from two projects celebrating the 50th anniversary of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Original visual art and poetry for the ABCs featured in the forthcoming book, A is for Apostle Islands, edited by Lucy Tyrrell, will be displayed.

In addition the exhibit will include trios of “Island Intersections,” i.e. science summaries and the interpretations or responses of visual art and poetry that emerged from 15 science presentations at the Apostle Islands 50th Anniversary Resource Stewardship Symposium held March 30-31 and available online on the Friends website. Dozens of artists and poets have collaborated and contributed to this exhibit.

The exhibit runs June 2- 30, 2021, 12–5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 12-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Get more information here.

Buy and fly a 50th Anniversary burgee!

For the sailor, boater or paddler in your life, we’re excited to offer burgees featuring the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore 50th Anniversary logo… flying the flag on your boat or anywhere else you like is a great way to show your love of the islands. Get them while they last, online or in person at Keeper of the Light in Bayfield. Proceeds benefit the park we love.

50th Anniversary Burgee

These limited edition burgees are 12 by 18 inches. The official 50th Anniversary logo is printed on both sides, with a white cloth liner sandwiched between the outer layers to improve visibility. The burgees are made of 90 GSM flag cloth and include metal grommets. They feature black piping around the outer edge.They are designed to be flown from sailboats, powerboats and anywhere else you like.

$40 plus shipping and handling or available at Keeper of the Light, 19 Front St, Bayfield, WI 54814.

Lakeshore Logbook – Jerry Banta

Jerry Banta
The photo of Jerry we printed in the park newspaper when he got the job.

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 18th 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.

Jerry Banta served as Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Superintendent for 12 years.

POSITIONS AND HISTORY

I served as superintendent from 1987 until 1999.  Prior to that time I had ranger positions at Pinnacles National Monument; Glacier, Canyonlands, and Arches National Parks;  and Colorado National Monument; and Superintendent positions at Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, and Scotts Bluff and Agate Fossil Beds National Monuments. 

Jerry and Don Castleberry, NPS Midwest Regional Director
Jerry and Don Castleberry, NPS Midwest Regional Director.

MOST MEMORABLE APOSTLE ISLANDS EXPERIENCES

People often ask me which of the parks where I worked was my favorite.  I always tell them that I loved all of them; but, like almost any other job, the thing that made a place special was the group of people you worked with.  In that regard none exceeded the Lakeshore.  I was surrounded by a caring and highly professional work force who made it a joy to come to work every day.  (Well, almost every day.)  Additionally, we enjoyed greatly Bayfield and the other communities around the bay, and we still have may friends in those areas.

A staff photo from 1988, Jerry's first full year in the park
A staff photo from 1988, Jerry’s first full year in the park.

Of course, it was a great experience to get out into the Park.  All of it was special, and as almost everyone else did, I usually stopped by Raspberry Light Station to enjoy one of Susan Nelson’s fresh baked cookies.

Raspberry Island Lighthouse
Raspberry Island Lighthouse

My predecessor, Pat Miller, had built very strong political support at the State and National levels across both political parties.  It was a great pleasure to be invited, about twice a year, to be invited to join Gaylord Nelson and the state and federal representatives and senators of Wisconsin to Beaver Lake for a pontoon visit and dinner.  Those were memorable evenings.

Gaylord Nelson visiting with a group of students during a visit to Quarry Bay on Stockton Island
Gaylord Nelson visiting with a group of students during a visit to Quarry Bay on Stockton Island.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

During my time at the Lakeshore we were able to complete the first General Management Plan for the Park, and to initiate the political and planning process for the Wilderness Study which eventually led to the establishment of the wilderness unit honoring Gaylord Nelson, the father of the American Wilderness System.

Jerry speaking at the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Lighthouse Establishment in 1989.
Jerry speaking at the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Lighthouse Establishment in 1989.

MOST SHARED STORY

At some point I had to leave to fly to Washington for a meeting during an ongoing search in the Lakeshore for a long overdue Kayaker. I changed into my meeting clothes and headed up highway 13 to the Duluth Airport. As I neared the Meyers Beach area the missing Kayaker staggered out of the woods and into the roadway.  After determining that he was okay, I told him, “We have been looking all over for you.”  He replied, “I’ve been looking for you, too.  Although I didn’t expect you to be so well dressed.”

Sea kayaker at Meyers Beach
Sea kayaker at Meyers Beach.

After leaving the Lakeshore Jerry was assigned as Superintendent of the Southeast Utah group of parks until he retired in 2004. 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.

June 10th solar eclipse: what you’ll see from the Apostle Islands

Remember wearing those funky glasses to view the total solar eclipse of 2017?

If you still have them, they may be useful on Thursday, June 10th, 2021. Assuming we get clear skies, here’s what you’ll see, and when, from Bayfield and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. One hint: plan on getting up early.

The good news is that we will be able to see some of the eclipse from the Apostle Islands. The bad news is that from our vantage point, the best part of the eclipse will happen around 20 minutes before sunrise. Our neighbors in eastern Canada will get to see the most spectacular part.

Watching the 2017 eclipse – Pixabay

During this eclipse, the moon is farther away from the earth than it was for the total eclipse of 2017. This means the moon won’t completely block out the sun. Instead, it will block only the center of the sun, revealing the annulus, a bright ring of light all around the rim. That’s why this eclipse is called an annular or partial eclipse.

Eclipse-tracking website eclipse2024.org says the eclipse will be at its maximum, at 4:51 in the morning in Bayfield. Unfortunately, this is 18 minutes before sunrise so we won’t see it.

The sun rises at 5:09 a.m. in Bayfield. At that point, you will be able to see the last phases of the eclipse happen over the next 40 minutes or so. Click the slideshow to see the progression. Keep in mind that you will need an unobstructed view of the sunrise, looking northeast over the lake. Viewed from Bayfield, Madeline Island will block the view during the critical first minutes of sunrise. If an island obscures the horizon, viewing the eclipse from the top of the hill or other high-elevation spots will be better than viewing it from lake level.

Timeanddate.com says these are the key times:

3:58 a.m. Eclipse begins
5:09 a.m. Sunrise
5:12:49 a.m. Maximum visible eclipse
5:48:10 a.m. Eclipse ends

One important technical note, when the sun is at the horizon, you may see it slightly sooner than the math in these diagrams would suggest. That’s because of refraction, or the bending of light as it cuts through the atmosphere.

If you are going to try to see this eclipse, or photograph it, please be aware that special eclipse glasses or eclipse-specific lens filters are required to look directly at it safely. Please do NOT look at the sun or the eclipse with your naked eyes, or through an unfiltered camera lens, as doing so can damage your sight. Regular sunglasses are also not safe. If you do get good photos, please share them to the Friends Facebook page.

To learn more about the upcoming annular eclipse, including how to make a pinhole projector to view it safely, visit NASA’s website. You can look up what the eclipse will look like at other specific locations here and here.

And if you’re an eclipse super fan, mark Monday, April 8, 2024 in your planner. That’s the date of the next total solar eclipse which will be visible over parts of North America.

2017 solar eclipse photo courtesy Pixabay


Jon Okerstrom
Jon Okerstrom

Jon Okerstrom is a Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore board member and digital and social media volunteer with a background in digital and television journalism, photography and graphic design.