Apostle Island Farms & Timber Opportunities
Apostle Island Land & Timber Opportunities
In this almost primitive northern land, with its millions of tons of mineral wealth and its thousands of miles of pine forests, one might surmise that there was no room for agriculture, or perhaps no land suitable for cultivation. But that is not the fact. In many localities along the borders of the great lake, and especially on various islands of the group known as the Apostles, the timber is mixed, hard and softwood, and of great variety. This, as is well-known, invariably produces a superior soil to all others. An intelligent vegetable farmer can realize from 10 acres of this land more substantial benefit then he could have had from 100 acres of Dakota land.
The Apostle Islands offer unusually advantages to small farmers. You can build your homes from the timber on your land; you can work almost at home, for wages when not engaged on your own soil. You can raise enough potatoes on 2 acres the first year to pay for 160 acres of land. A home market is guaranteed for every variety of products. The great summer hotels in the vicinity will certainly require everything in the way of vegetables, poultry and dairy products that can be raised for years to come.
The islands are by far the best place in the state for cultivation of fruits, especially of the smaller varieties. Nine different kinds of wild berries grow here profusely. Livestock rearing would prove very profitable here as the winters are more temperate than on the mainland and the poorest land would produce 20 tons of hay to the acre. Potatoes are a sure crop and are invariably of superior quality.
The soil on Madeline Island, the largest of the group, will average much better than any other locality of the same era in the lake region. It is somewhat more diversified than elsewhere, owing perhaps to its being deposited here in the remote past by the great flood, or alteration of the Earth’s surface. In places are two and even 3 feet of black muck, sufficient to enrich, if properly distributed, a dozen miles of barren sand. Then again, a large portion of the interior highlands are made up of a sandy loam resting above fine clay marl. At that time the American Fur Company held forth in the year, 1847, there were in bearing condition three fine orchards. Even to this day a remnant of an orchard in the shape of a cherry tree, also a few apple trees are to be seen.” Bayfield County Press, June 19, 1886
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Frank Shaw home and small farm site near La Pointe Madeline Island ca 1900 Anna Mae Shaw-Hill – Frank Shaw and child- Millie Shaw
Photo: Burt Hill
This history brief was written by Robert J. Nelson. Generously sharing our local history through his research and writing.