Friday, 2 March 2012


From the Lakehead Cities The News Chronicle January 2, 1937 page 4
Port Arthur people as a whole fail to realize that within sight of their homes , on a clear day, is one of the most interesting as well as one of the most mysterious of islands in the world.
It is Isle Royale, regarded principally as a summer resort characterized by cool weather from the surrounding waters of Lake Superior and the home of moose which have lately been so numerous that they consumed all the available food and thus necessitated steps to move them off to the mainland so they would not starve to death.
Isle Royale has much more than that. It has had a history which even the scientists have been unable to reveal. The mystery is in the evidence of occupation left by some prehistoric race or races. Some of things these people left behind must have come , it is believed, from far off sections. Who carried them and their purpose is among the things unknown.
Question after question concerning this island which is part of the State of Michigan, closer to Canada than to any other main land and reached from this country as well as from Minnesota, remain unanswered.
The island is full of historic lore - abandoned copper mines, empty logging shacks, weed-covered gravestones.
Scientists still do not know why there was no copper in use among the Indians when the country was found, and yet there are ancient copper mines there which were undoubtedly worked by aborigines of the island.
They do not know how long ago those mines were worked, nor by what races.
They have found thousands of hammer stones, and they are still unable to explain why none of the rocks from which they are made are found on the island.
They have found an obsidian "point" - knife, ax, arrowhead - on the island, yet they know that obsidian cannot be obtained nearer than Yellowstone Park.
They have found a chalcedony point, and they know that chalcedony must have come from Ohio or Illinois.
No quartz implements have been located, and scientists wonder why, because there is plenty of quartz on the island.
Bones have been discovered. Yet the skulls show a thicker bone structure than that of either the Indian or the white man, and only give scientists another problem.
Historians wonder why Ben Franklin, in the Treaty of Paris in 1773, stipulated that the island should belong to United States. Some say he had heard reports of copper being found on the island, and his experiments with electricity made him deem this important.
Historians wonder, too, why recent Indians were in awe of the island and only journeyed there after dances, appeals to the spirit and ceremonies on the Canadian shore.
They hazard the guess that this fear may be the same which prompted the primitive copper seekers to abandon their mines after digging huge pits with labour comparable to that involved in erecting the pyramids. Or it may have been a storm on some far-off day while the tribe was en route to the island, or a sweeping pestilence - or only tradition.
The island occupys a northeast and southwest position fourteen miles from the nearest Canadian shore. It is forty-four miles long, varies from three to nine miles in width and is the largest island owned by the United States in The Great Lakes.
Within those 205 square miles of area are more than 25 inland lakes, occupying twelve square miles. About it are hundreds of small islands with rocky coasts.
Geologists believe the island, or islands, were formed by ancient lava flows, placed one on the other. The lopped-off edges of those flows form long ridges parallel with the length of the island, and extending from end to end.
Only twelve to fourteen inches of humus, foresters say, is on the island for trees to dig their roots into. So when fire ate through the woods, it easily killed the roots and felled the trees.
The birds on the island are those of the mainland on both sides of the lake. Animals include those of Northern Michigan and sub-Arctic Canada, notably the Canadian Lynx, the timber wolf, the woodland caribou and , of course, the moose. The woodland caribou , it is said, is found nowhere else in the United States.
During the summer the island is one of the beauty spots of the world. Steamers make weekly visits from Duluth, Port Arthur and Houghton. Tourists hunt greenstones, the only semi-precious stone found there or in Michigan.
During the winter the island is desolate. A fisherman, or some island "character", may shovel himself in for the long Winter and wait for the cracking ice to tell him it is time to face the world again, but it is otherwise deserted.
The most feesible form of transportation during the close season of Navigation is the airplane. The ice forms on the lake it is true but often, due to water and wind action leaves cracks or open spaces along the shore. Last Winter (1936) when the Newaygo Company was operating timber camps, Al Cheesman made a number of flights from his Port Arthur base. The Newaygo Company quit the island after bad forest fires spoiled the timber lands last Summer.
END of Article

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