John L's Old Maps / Supplementary Pages:

 Views of the Apostle Islands 

Page X: Devil's Island

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SITE CONTENTS:

Old Map Collection – web version 4.2 (5/24/07):
  Part 1: c.1710-1857
  Part 2: 1873-1920
Supplementary Pages:
•  Evolution of Northwest Territory
•  Photos:  Source of Brule & St. Croix Rivers
•  Photos:  Sources of the Mississippi River
•  Photos:  Railroads and Trails

•   Photos:  VIEWS OF THE APOSTLE ISLANDS
    See the MENU here.

•  References


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The annual Apostle Islands Lighthouse Celebration takes place in August and September of each year, providing excursions to various islands to check out the lighthouses and their surroundings as noted in other pages of this series. The boat rides offer a great opportunity to get out into the open air and see some spectacular views of the islands and weather. Note Photo 1 for an example of the latter.

Once a landing can be made successfully on Devil's Island (often a challenge for the boat captains), one may be able to inspect the lighthouse and nearby buildings from outside and within, see into some of the sea caves, and also hike a trail or two through the wooded area. Depending on the weather, the choice of landing site, and the possibility of repairs being made to one or more of the buildings (in which case entrance is not allowed), the sights may be occasionally limited. In really bad weather which would preclude any landing at all, one at least has a chance to see (from the boat) the lighthouse at the northernmost point of Wisconsin along with some of the spectacular sea caves.

The photos on this page are from three visits to the island in 2012, '14 and '15, and they are arranged in such an order that one can imagine landing on the southern tip, walking the mile-long trail straight northward to the lighthouse area, and then leaving by the east landing. Posted in one of the buildings near the lighthouse is a hand-drawn map – seen here – which gives a valuable overview of the island.

Photos 1A through 16 take us from the south landing to the lighthouse area via the scenic trail which travels a straight longitudinal line through the length of the island. The white boathouse at the landing is as sure an identifier of the island as is the lighthouse, and it can be seen from miles away. On many of the Apostle Islands, one sees signs (such as in Photo 3A) announcing the "Gaylord Nelson Wilderness" areas wherein a true wilderness is achieved and maintained as described here. I have been examining several of these areas in the Apostle Islands and have not found one specimen of a particular invasive European plant that would not have been found there originally, namely the mullein which one sees growing in disturbed areas throughout the country including Madeline Island, the most developed of the Apostle Islands. Abundant growth of the natural flora of these wilderness areas – along with the diligent watchfulness of park personnel – keep invasive flora to a minimum (if not zero).

The aforementioned map notes: "This 1.1 mile trail reveals dramatic changes in vegetation as you travel, with a stunning cranberry tamarack bog at the center." A view of the bog is shown in Photo 10. The side trail to the old dump mentioned on the map reveals an interesting little valley (Photo 12). The path up the center of the island varies in width, and it tends to look relatively more "civilized" (Photos 14 and 15) as we approach the lighthouse grounds. Mushrooms are seen everywhere; the one glimpsed on the edge of the path in Photo 15 has a close-up in Photo 16.

Further sights await as we travel northward: The lighthouse keepers' quarters (Photo 17), the tramway which was used to haul supplies from the east landing (Photo 18), and the lighthouse itself (Photos 19 and 20). Presently, the actual light which beams out over the lake is housed in the small box on the double railing seen along the outer walkway in Photo 19.

Photo 21 is a double image, looking up the spiral staircases of Devil's Island and Sand Island and showing how one may turn as one ascends. How would you describe your rotation as you go up: clockwise or counterclockwise? It's not always easy to figure out from below, but it's more fun to actually do it for real. Just stop spinning when you reach the top. At the top, we can find interesting views in all directions, including down (Photo 22), toward the south (Photo 23) and toward the east (Photo 24).

In the easterly view (Photo 24) we see Outer Island in the far and hazy distance, in front of which is a full-length view of North Twin Island. Toward the right we note two land masses, both of which belong to Rocky Island. In the foreground where people are standing is where you can get a good view of the Devil's Island sea caves (Photos 25-27) which also appear spectacular from the lake (Photo 28). The following video shows how the waves of Lake Superior can interact with the Devil's Island sea caves on a windy day. If the video does not show up, click here.

I saw the trees in Photo 28A on the north end of Devils Island and mentioned how "ancient" they appeared. That is because they are, explained a park employee. The soil is so shallow and poor, that it takes an exceptionally long time for trees like these pines to assume this size. In the meantime, being battered by the elements does appear to bleach them out a bit.

Heading toward the southeast from the lighthouse along the tramway trail, we come to the east landing which was our point of entry and departure for our September, 2012 excursion (Photos 29-32). Note the stratified rock and also the carving of a devil's head.

Over the years, boat captains preferred to use the east landing (weather permitting), as it affords a more convenient walk to the lighthouse. If deemed unsafe to do so, then the landing is made at the south tip (as seen above in Photos 1A-2) – or not at all if especially rough weather conditions arise. Some day, I hope to have the opportunity to spend all day on that mile-long trail between the south landing and the lighthouse area.

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All photos on these pages are by myself unless noted otherwise.
This page was last modified on 9/15/15 at noon, CDT.
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University of Wisconsin – Madison

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