Rock Island State Park (Wisconsin)
|Rock Island State Park|
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
|Location||Door, Wisconsin, United States|
|Area||912 acres (369 ha)|
|Authorized||by the county board on December 11, 1961|
|Named for||Rock Island|
|Governing body||Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources|
|Website||Rock Island State Park|
Rock Island was proposed as a state park in early 1961 by officials of the Town of Washington Island, particularly Jack Hagen the town chairman. There was considerable excitement in the town over the economic benefits of having a state park nearby.
A feasibility study was made in September 1961 by the Wisconsin Department of Conservation. A group of people including Jack Hagen and other town officials, some county officials, and some state officials along with Lawrence Johnson walked around and flew over the island to consider it. The county board approved the acquisition on December 11, 1961.
In the spring of 1962, the Department of Conservation negotiated with Dewey Thordarson, who was administering the late Chester Thordarson's estate on behalf of himself and other heirs. On July 17, 1962 an agreement was reached. It stipulated that the state Conservation Department would exercise temporary custodial care of the property along with the option to purchase the land for a park in the future. It expired on August 31, 1963 and funds were not available to purchase it. In order to keep the land undeveloped for longer while waiting on the state legislature, a three-year scenic easement was purchased for $5,000 which counted towards the eventual purchase price. While waiting on the state legislature, the Department of Conservation obtained short extensions to the purchase option for the property.
After the state legislature voted, the property was purchased in April 1965. Park construction began in May 1965.
Activities and amenities
Attractions include the stone Viking boathouse and other structures including a historic water tower built by inventor Chester H. Thordarson in what is now known as the Thordarson Estate Historic District, Native American artifacts, as well as Pottawatomie Light, which is Wisconsin's oldest lighthouse. The island is a destination in the fall for deer hunters and in the winter for snowmobilers from nearby Washington Island. The park has campsites available and is a destination for day trippers.
The only public transportation to the island is by the passenger ferry Karfi from Washington Island. However, there is mooring and dock space for people with their own boats, and during winter the island is accessible via snowmobile and foot traffic. No "wheeled vehicles" (cars, all-terrain vehicles, bicycles) are allowed to be brought onto the island by visitors, although park staff use them routinely.
The climate of Rock Island is moderate with an annual mean temperature of 48 °F (9 °C). The average annual number of frost-free days is approximately 145 on nearby Washington Island, where basic climatic data is recorded for the region. Recorded temperatures range from a low of −30 °F (−34 °C) to a high of 114 °F (46 °C). The mean annual precipitation is approximately 28 inches, with an average winter snowfall totaling fifty inches. The immensity of the surrounding body of water generally insulates Rock Island and its neighbors from the extremes of summer heat and winter cold that is experienced in the interior parts of the country at this same latitude. Moderating effects of the waters also prolong cold weather in the spring and repress early frosts in the fall. The worst storms to hit Rock Island generally occur in the autumn and are driven by winds from the northwest.
In July 2010, the Midsummer's Music Festival became the first performing organization to present a professional chamber music concert on Rock Island in the Viking boathouse, an event that was repeated in July 2011.
- Resolution No. 209 passed by the Door County Board of Supervisors, Door County Advocate, January 16, 1962
- Master Plan for Rock Island, submitted by D. J. Mackie, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, March 1966, Section 1, Historical: pages 2–3 (pages 9–11 of the pdf)
- Master Plan for Rock Island, submitted by D. J. Mackie, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, March 1966, Appendix: Feasibility Report, page 3 (page 45 of the pdf)
- Master Plan for Rock Island, submitted by D. J. Mackie, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, March 1966, Appendix: Feasibility Report, page 1 (page 43 of the pdf)
- "Friends of Rock Island State Park". fori.us. Retrieved 2018-07-03.
- "Rock Island State Park: Recreation". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
- Ice-Road Trekking to Rock Island by Tim Sweet, Peninsula Pulse, March 2, 2022 and Snowmobiler falls over cliff At Rock Island State Park by Samantha Hernandez, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin, February 14, 2015
- "Rock Island State Park: Camping". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
- "Washington Island Ferry | Rock Island Ferry". www.wisferry.com. Retrieved 2018-07-03.
- "Rock Island Camping - Wisconsin DNR". dnr.wi.gov. Retrieved 2018-07-03.
- National Historic Landmarks Nomination Form for Rock Island Archeological District (Redacted) by Vergil E. Noble and Holly Staggs, edited by Michael Roller, October 25, 2016, section on Environmental Setting, page 14 (page 15 of the pdf)
- Staff Reporter (May 21, 2010). "Door County's Midsummer's Music Festival to celebrate 20 years with "Best of the Best" concerts beginning June 11th". Door County Style Magazine. Archived from the original on 2010-06-15. Retrieved September 4, 2013.
- Pearson, Kathleen (May 25, 2011). "Midsummer's Music classical concert on Rock Island almost sold out!". Midsummer's Music. Archived from the original on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
- Kastner, Stephen (July 22, 2011). "Classical music in the boathouse on Rock Island". Door County Style Magazine. Retrieved September 4, 2013.
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