Thursday morning at 10:00 we left the Bayfield Harbor on the Island Princess for our cruise through the Apostle Islands, or as we affectionately dubbed it, the 3 hour tour :) Gilligan and his crew might have been comfortable here in the summertime but I think they might have had a problem surviving in the cold northern Wisconsin winters.
The Apostle Islands consist of 22 islands with 21 of them belonging to the Apostle Island National Lakeshore. No one knows how the Apostle Islands actually got their name. One would think there would be only 12 islands but that is certainly not true. The largest of the 22, Madeline Island, is not included in the National Lakeshore. Madeline Island is the only populated island of the group and it is believed that it was too expensive for the NPS to buy all the land and buyout all the people, so they stopped with the 21. There were a few people on a couple of the other islands. They were given the choice to lease back their cabins once they were bought out. There are but a handful of these cabins still in existence and eventually, all the leases will expire.
If you do not know where the Apostle Islands are located, see the yellow star below. The Apostle Islands are in Lake Superior, the largest body of fresh water, by surface, in the world.
These islands have been owned by many different companies/people over the years. Many were logging companies. Logging was a big industry in northern Wisconsin. The National Park Service purchased the 21 islands and created the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in 1970.
Our tour route is the red line below. From this route we were able to see all of the islands. Sorry for the double map. The route map was too small to actually see the islands (senior eyes) so I added the one above. If you also have senior eyes, it is a little easier to see :) Thank you Google!
As we took off, I snapped a photo of Basswood Island. This set the bar. They all, pretty much, look alike. They are different sizes but other than that, all heavily wooded and sand stone based.
Sandstone was shipped from quarries in the Apostle Islands at the end of the 19th century to Midwestern cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, Minneapolis, and St. Paul where it was used to build some of the cities' most distinctive landmarks. For awhile, it became the building material of choice after the Chicago fire and the Peshtigo WI fire. Eventually, steel replaced it and demand decreased.
The islands may have all looked alike, but I loved the ride! The lake was calm, the sun was shining and it was +/- 80º. The sun glistening off the water was beautiful!
We eventually ended up at Devil’s Island which has a wonderful lighthouse and was the Apostle Island’s last manned lighthouse. It was automated in 1978.
The sandstone wears with the wave action, freezing and thawing of the waters and creates sea caves. Devil’s Island is the best example of these sea caves. The boat captain slowed down and turned around a couple times so everyone could get their fill and their pictures. We watched a couple motor over to the caves and anchor. They were all outfitted for some diving.
Another of the islands, Stockton, is known to have the densest concentration of Black Bear in North America. There are bear found on all the islands, but none in concentrations as dense as Stockton. The latest reports put 40 bear on that island of 10,000 acres.
We ended the tour with a viewing of the lighthouse on Raspberry Island. As we came around the point the stately lighthouse came into view. The chief light keeper lived on the left in this house and the 1st and 2nd assistant lived on the upper right and lower right. It was automated in 1947.
Our tour took 3¼ hours and covered 55 miles. Other than boating or kayaking, it’s the only way to see the islands. Some islands have open lighthouse tours, some have hiking trails, some allow overnight primitive camping with a permit. There are water taxi-like shuttles to get you to those destinations. Lucy will not be participating in those camping opportunities :)
We plan to take the car ferry to Madeline Island and check it out this weekend.
Walking back to the Jeep we came across these beautiful bushes. Can anyone tell me what they are? They looked good enough to eat but I didn’t dare :)
Thanks for stopping by.