Park and Local History Articles

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Lakeshore Logbook – Jerry Banta

Lakeshore Logbook – 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...

You can solve Apostle Islands History Mysteries this summer

You can solve Apostle Islands History Mysteries this summer

The Apostle Islands are full of nature’s beauty, wildlife and adventure. The Islands also have a rich and varied human history. This summer, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the park, we will be exploring that history with a little help from some friends: large, nearly life-sized standing poster board images of lighthouse keepers, sailors, ship captains, fishers, island lovers and more. Each cutout will ask you a question, present a mystery of island history, and offer you a QR code. Point your cell phone camera at the QR Code on the sign and follow the link to learn the answer to...

History Mystery: Francis Jacker marooned on Oak Island!

History Mystery: Francis Jacker marooned on Oak Island!

Francis Jacker was keeper at Raspberry Island Lighthouse from 1885 through 1892. Jacker was born in Germany in 1840 and studied for three years at the Munich Academy of Arts.  He immigrated to America in 1859 and moved to northern Michigan in 1862 to reunite with his brother who was a missionary among the Indians.  In 1863 Jacker married an Ojibwe girl, named Ikwesens (Little Girl), or Catherine, as she was christened.  Her father, Wabos, was one of the great chiefs of the Ojibwe nation.  They built a home near Portage Entry, Michigan and started a family. Francis Jacker at his farm near...

History Mystery: How Gert Wellisch saved Sand Island Lighthouse

History Mystery: How Gert Wellisch saved Sand Island Lighthouse

Gert Wellisch (1896-1966) spent her childhood summers in the Apostle Islands. In 1910 her father Robert Wellisch, a well-to-do manufacturer from St. Paul, joined with three other businessmen to build an imposing, Adirondack-style lodge on the west shore of Sand Island.   The West Bay Club The main room in the West Bay Club Gert by the wood pile at the West Bay Club in 1916 Gert grew up to be a St. Paul schoolteacher, and her small cadre of female city friends became a regular fixture of the Sand Island summer community during the World War I era. Their island adventures, exploring forests,...

History Mystery: Emmanuel Luick photos document life of the Sand Island community and beyond

History Mystery: Emmanuel Luick photos document life of the Sand Island community and beyond

  Emmanuel Luick served as the head lighthouse keeper at the Sand Island Lighthouse from 1892 through 1920 when it was the first Apostle Islands lighthouse to become automated.  Sand Island Lighthouse Along with his duties in tending the light, Luick also documented life at the light station in his log book.  For a while he allowed his first wife, Ella, to assume this duty. Ella Luick was 16 when she married 27-year-old Luick in 1895.  She took over the light keeper's log, treating it like a diary, recording her boredom and dissatisfaction. Then in May 1905, Ella Luick jotted down that...

Remembering Dick Carrier

Remembering Dick Carrier

By Bob Mackreth, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Park Historian, 1997 to 2005The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore lost an important historic figure last week. Dick Carrier, who passed away at 85, oversaw the park’s transportation program throughout the eighties and nineties—the Lakeshore’s operational formative years. His uncompromising commitment to safety and meticulous care of the boats set a tone that saved both tax dollars and heartbreak. (It’s an unfortunate fact of human nature that “Cutting corners out here could get me killed” can be a less effective deterrent than “Dick would...

Gaylord Nelson: mover, shaker, deal-maker

Gaylord Nelson: mover, shaker, deal-maker

Gaylord Nelson, who served both as Senator from Wisconsin and Governor of the state, is often described as “the father of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.” The characterization is apt, but barely scratches the surface in conveying the difficulties involved in transforming a dream dating to the late nineteenth century to reality in the turbulent 1960s. During eight years of proposals and counter-proposals, debate, maneuver, and compromise, Nelson faced and overcame obstacles including procedural bottlenecks, local resistance, Native American suspicion, and a National Park Service that...

Lakeshore Logbook – Paul Chalfant

Lakeshore Logbook – Paul Chalfant

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 seventh 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. Paul Chalfant worked as a seasonal ranger on Oak Island and South Twin Island for 3 summers starting in 1985, then intermittently in...

Wisconsin Lake Superior Scenic Byway receives national designation

Wisconsin Lake Superior Scenic Byway receives national designation

WASHBURN, Wis. (Bayfield County Tourism) – The Wisconsin Lake Superior Scenic Byway (WLSSB) received designation today as a National Scenic Byway in recognition of the high quality natural, cultural, historical and recreational features along the route.  The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced 49 new designations today, including 15 All-American Roads and 34 National Scenic Byways. With the new additions of the WLSSB and the Door County Coastal Byway, Wisconsin now has three nationally designated byways. The third is the Great River Road, which was previously designated as a...

Where in the park is Neil? The week 21 answer is Otter Island

Where in the park is Neil? The week 21 answer is Otter Island

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. Today, Neil is traveling back in time 60 years to participate in what was probably the largest campout in the history of the Apostle Islands.  Where in the park is Neil?  In 1960, the Boy Scouts celebrated their golden jubilee with a four-day camporee on Otter Island, located at 46.9929° N, 90.7008° W. 1,500...