My life on Isle Royale with the wolves, moose, and the National Park Service J.Laurie Snell
Where is Isle Royale? Source: University of Texas Maps of United States National Parks and Monuments.
Isle Royale is 40 miles long and 9 miles at the widest point.The red lines are trails made by the National Park Service. Source: National Park Service
How do you get to Isle Royale? The Ranger III goes from Houghton. Source:National Park Service
The Isle Royale Queen III goes from Copper Harbor Michigan. Source: The Isle Royale Line
The Voyageur II goes from Grand Portage Minnesota. It goes around the whole Island dropping off mail and backpackers. Source: Grand Portage-Isle Royale Transportation Line Inc.
Isle Royale is part of the United States because it appeared in the wrong place in Lake Superior on John Mitchell's Map that was used in the treaty of Paris, 1782-83. Source: Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education: University of Southern Maine.
The human history of Isle Royale begins with the Archaic Age (6000 B.C. 500 B.C.) The “Copper People” came to Isle Royale and obtained copper from small open-pit mines using stone mauls. The copper was used primarily for tools. Source: Exhibit Museum of Natural History at University of Michigan.
In the 1700’s the historic Ojibwa paddled to Isle Royale to harvest island resources such as trout, whitefish, sturgeon, herring, suckers, pike, woodland caribou, beaver and loons. They called the Island “Minong” meaning “a good place to live.” Traditional Ojibwa-coming from what is now the Minnesota and Ontario shoreline-used "Minong" as a sanctuary from white-induced change. (Source: Tim Cochrane) Source: Photo Gallery Metis Ojibwa.
This 5,720 pound mass of copper was removed during initial explorations of prehistoric copper pits on Isle Royale in 1875. Burton Historical Collection. Detroit Public Library.
After mining failed, commercial fishing was introduced on Isle Royale in the early 1800’s. on Isle Royale. Here is the Mattson fishery in Tobin’s harbor around 1891. Source: National Archives. Minnesota Historical Society.
Boat day in Tobin’s Harbor 1906. The Matson fishery in the background has become the Anderson-Mattson fishery. Source: Maurice Edwards Photograph/Merritt collection.
In the 1900’s Isle Royale became a place to get away from civilization and to get rid of asthma. Those wanting short visits could go to one of the resorts in Rock Harbor, Tobin’s Harbor, Belle Island, or Washington Harbor. Each resort had a token of civilization: Rock Harbor a tennis court, Tobin’s Harbor croquet, Belle Island a small golf course and Washington Harbor a bowling ally. Others bought land and, with the help of the fisherman, built cabins. Belle Isle Rock Harbor
For our first year, we rented this cabin in Rock Harbor which eventually became the Orsborn cabin. Source: Sally Orsborn.
This is Snug Harbor. It was a safe for kids, but once my brother and I went out of the harbor to get logs and nearly drowned so we moved to Tobin’s harbor. Source: Isle Royale Boating Association.
Here is our Tobin’s cabin painted by Elizabeth Kemmer a Tobin’s resident.
Our father wrote children’s books. He had a more modest cabin on the hill for his writing.
Here is a book he wrote about Red Grange being kidnapped before the BIG GAME and taken to Isle Royale.
When the Tobin’s Harbor Lodge closed, Dad towed one of the Lodge’s cabins across the harbor and then we had a guest cabin.
There was a new boat about every year! The Mary Margaret The Seminole The Coastal Queen
For some years we were able to leave from Chicago and get off this boat at Isle Royale.
The one boat that came every year was the Winyah from Duluth Minnesota. It picked up the fish, delivered mail, milk, eggs and bread. Source: North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum.
We could sometimes order food from Houghton but mostly we ate a lot of fish, homemade bread, and berries: raspberries, blueberries, and thimbleberries. And sometimes Inis Mattson invited us for homemade ice cream. Thimbleberries Source: Pasty.com.
Sometimes we waited on the dock not knowing when or if the boat would come.
The kids here were my best friends. Left to right: Larry Matson, Jimmy Lawrence, Laurie Snell (holding Ring), Ed Mattson, Art Anderson, Jim Anderson (in front of Art Anderson) and Art Mattson. Source:Louis Mattson.
Art Anderson took Jimmy Anderson and me to the light house and a storm came up. We had to stay listening to the fog horn all night.
Our father was a legendary fisherman. Being the smallest, I always held the BIG FISH for the photo.
My brother Jud wanted to ride a moose in the water and was mad that I could not row fast enough to reach the moose.
We loved being out in rough weather, but if it got any worse than this we headed for Merritt’s Lane.
I became an entrepreneur • Rowing hikers back to Rock Harbor (Initially 5 cents and then a customer suggested I say “whatever you think it is worth” -- then it was typically about 5 dollars). • Selling moose antlers with Jimmy Lawrence to people off the Alabama (50 Cents). When we ran out of antlers, Jimmy suggested we switch to moose teeth for which we got the same price! • Taking lodge visitors to Lookout Louise or Mount Franklin ($1.00). • Selling fish to the lodge (10 cents a pound).
The view from Mount Franklin. Source: Anthony Jones Travel Photos.
In 1921 Afred Stole Jr., conservationcolumnist for the Detroit News, convincedthe newspaper to launch a major campaign to have Isle Royale made into a National Park. Albert Stoll Jr., at left, sets out for Isle Royale with two Detroit News photographers. Source: The campaign to preserve Isle Royale: By Patricia Zacharias / The Detroit News.
Isle Royale becomes a National Park. • 1931: Isle Royale was authorized by Congress under President Hoover. • 1940: President Roosevelt established Isle Royale National Park. • 1946: Isle Royale National Park was dedicated. • 1976: The park was designated part of the National Wilderness Preservation System with 99% of the island to be undeveloped. • 1981: Isle Royale was made an International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations.
The Park Service put in over 200 miles of trails. They are not all as easy as this trail from Rock Harbor to Tobin’s Harbor. Source: Captain Ben Kipela’s Isle Royale Photos.
The wolves and moose on Isle Royale. • Early 1900’s: Moose came to the island, probably swimming from Canada. • 1947: The Park Service brings 6 wolves from a zoo to the Island. They all die trying to find food from the fishermen’s back yards. • Winter 1948-49: The lake between Isle Royale and Canada freezes and a small pack of timber wolves cross over to Isle Royale. • 1959: An ecological study of the wolves and the moose on Isle Royale begins.
Ecological study of wolves and moose on Isle Royale: Rolf Peterson, John Fucetish 2003-2004. Ecological Studies of the Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale.
A moose with her calf. Source: 2004 Ecological Study.
Most of the wolves travel in packs, but some are loners. The dots represent dead moose believed to have been killed by the wolves in the year 2003-2004. Source: 2004 Ecological Study.
Changes in the moose wolf populations. Source: Ecological Studies of the Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale.
Wolves chasing a moose. Source: Ecological Studies of the Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale.
Introducing the Island to my family. Here is my wife Joan fishing with son John who is in the fish box.