John L's Old Maps / Supplementary Pages:
Views of the Apostle Islands
Page IX: A Few Distant Glimpses of
Island-spotting among the Apostles from driveable locations certainly is not something that one often reads about, but it's something to do along with the great boat tours of the area until I become fully amphibious! (At which time you may see me get hung up on the Steamboat Island reef!)
1: An aerial photo of Gull Island on the eastern edge of the Apostle Islands group, situated just off the northeast tip of Michigan Island. Between May 15 and September 1, one must stay at least 500 feet away as the island is a protected gull rookery. Image is from Microsoft Research Maps (formerly Terraserver-USA) with images courtesy of the USGS.
2: Straight off the northeast shore of Madeline Island is a nice view of the southwest end of Michigan Island, approx. 3.5 miles away. A telefoto view is shown here in which the newer Michigan Island lighthouse may be seen (just barely) toward the far right. A reciprocal view of Madeline Island from the lighthouse is shown here, and a 2009 visit to Michigan Island is summarized here. On an exceptionally clear day, Michigan Island and its newer lighthouse may be seen telescopically from about 33 miles away on St. Peter's Dome as shown on this page.
3: Sighting along the left edge of Michigan Island – whose fairly straight shoreline on that side runs another 3.5 miles to the northeast tip (pretty much parallel to the line of sight) – one may spot Gull Island as seen in this view obtained with my camera's telefoto lens. The line of sight is indicated on the Microsoft Research Maps image here. A shallow reef runs off the northeast tip of Michigan Island for yet another 3.5 miles; along the way, Gull Island emerges from the reef. According to Volume III of Geology of Wisconsin – Survey of 1873-1879 (published in 1880), Madeline, Michigan and Gull Islands are the above-water manifestations of a continuous ridge.
On this particular sunny day in June, 2004, the sightings of Gull Island and the far distant shoreline of Michigan (the state) were occasionally obscured by patches of thick white fog and also frequently confused (sometimes seemingly elevated) by the uneven texture of the lake.
It is really no big deal to see Gull Island from Madeline, especially at night when the light from the beacon should be easy to spot. But it was a big deal to me as I had been reading about the island for decades – even imagining how one might be able to walk out to it from Michigan Island which would be an extreme idea to say the least. My enthusiasm in being able to see Gull Island from this spot masked a developing problem with my feet which I initially thought was due to standing in briars, but it turned out to be sand flies! Quickly I was beating them off after (more quickly) taking this photo of at least 17 of them penetrating my sock to do their thing. Real professionals they were.
4: Looking in a more northerly direction from about the same spot on Madeline Island, one sees the very close Stockton Island. No, it's not the mainland; we left that way behind as we travelled the length of Madeline as far as we could go.
Since my 2004 visits to this spot, signs have been erected to make clear to all that the area between the town road and the lake is privately-owned. There is apparently no "easement" of any sort for public access. You will instead be eaten alive by sand flies as punishment should you trespass. To experience the joy of a real wilderness beach on Madeline Island, you can follow the crowd to the Big Bay Town Park – some photos of which are shown here. The parking lot may fill up to overflowing in the summer, but the mile-long beach is always a satisfying experience any time of year.
5: Moving over to the western edge of the Apostles, one can get a view of Sand Island, about 2.5 miles northwest of the dock at Little Sand Bay, the site of an Apostle Islands National Lakeshore visitor center. Farther out and to the northeast is York Island – seen here from Little Sand Bay and here from the southeast.
6: Approximately seven miles straight west of the visitor center, Eagle Island can be seen. An enlarged view of the island is shown in Photo 6, and a telefoto close-up is here. As for Gull Island, one must stay at least 500 feet away between May 15 and September 1. Gulls, great blue herons and black cormorants rule this place.
7: Here is a late-afternoon shot taken from the end of the dock in early June, 2005.
8: About 1.3 miles straight northeast of Cornucopia is Meyers Beach whose parking lot was often overfilled in the summertime, spilling into the entrance road and up onto Highway 13. This situation was relieved in the early Summer of 2005 with better access and a larger lot. On this photo, we see a flotilla of kayakers returning from a visit to the nearby shoreline caves. Again we can see Eagle Island; this time it is 4 miles NNE. Despite the persistance on many so-called "updated" maps of an old name – a term generally considered to be derogatory to Native Americans – the actual name of this bay of Lake Superior is Mawikwe Bay. Additional photos of the Meyers Beach area are here.
9: A telefoto view of Eagle Island taken from Meyers Beach in the winter is shown here.
10: A telefoto view of Eagle Island from the parking lot above Meyers Beach. The arrow in the photo points to the approximate location of the unnamed shallows just south of Eagle Island, the site of the long-gone Steamboat Island. (To these shallows one could aptly apply the name "Steamboat Island Shoals.") Hoping to arouse some curiosity about this forgotten lost island – what with the massive interest these days in lighthouses, shipwrecks, sea caves, shopping, kayaking and various other recreational activities in the area – we offer our Steamboat Island page.
11: Here is a similar view of Eagle Island taken in the winter.
And here is a rare sight on the web: Actual close-up photos of Eagle Island accompanied by descriptions and stories. Click here. The bottom photo shows a developing sea stack in the process of separating from the southern tip of Eagle Island. Perhaps it will completely separate, erode and disappear as did Steamboat Island.
12: Special Added Mainland Attraction – something to see if you find yourself anywhere in the vicinity of the Apostle Islands: With a vertical drop of just several feet or so, the Siskiwit Falls near Cornucopia are certainly not the highest in the state but are something to behold nonetheless. Another view is shown here. (Both photos were taken Oct. 6, 2006.) To avoid trespassing on private land, these falls are best approached from the nearby road by walking along the river from the bridge.
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All photos on these pages are by myself unless noted otherwise.
This page was last modified on 9/23/10 at 8:15 PM, CDT.
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