Logging Cedar on Rocky Island – 1928
Logging Cedar on Rocky (Rice’s) Island
It would be well to know that the transcriber also spent a good portion of his life on Rocky Island and grew up there in the summers 300 feet north from the old Eli La Pointe logging camp. The photo above is taken ca 1947 and shows the old bunkhouse on the left, the cook shanty, storage shed and on the fourth building right is the lumber camp office building. The office building still stands, though feeble, as of this writing, 9/11/2015. Nearly as quick LaPointe left in 1930-31, commercial fisherman Louis Olson utilized the vacant lumber camp until the later 1940’s. Fritjopf [Fred] Benson, my uncle born 1904, told me as a lad that LaPointe logged cedar of the island for shingles. The fact appears he also logged railroad ties. Robert J. Nelson
Eli LaPointe Will Log Rice’s Island read the headlines in the Bayfield County Press on August 9, 1928. The Press followed with “J. H. Deniston and Eli LaPointe returned Thursday night from St. Paul, where they made a contract with the Frenzel Land Company, owners of Manitou and Rice’s Island, for the timber on Rice’s. LaPointe now has a camp at Manitou and will not finish logging it until next summer. He will begin the building of a camp on Rice’s at once, however, and operate on both islands this winter, probably not finishing on Rice’s until summer of 1930”.
Logging cedar and railroad ties  on Rocky Island was not an easy lifestyle, fraught with danger and injury as the following anecdotes from the Bayfield County Press indicate.
March 6, 1930: Ax Takes Hand on Rice’s Island Tuesday; Simon Defoe, 18 years old of Red Cliff, son of Ed Defoe of that place, had his right hand almost completely severed at the wrist while at work in the woods on Rice’s Island Tuesday afternoon. Simon and his father were at work cutting trees and underbrush near the standpoint on the South end of the island and more than 2 miles from the camp when the accident happened. The younger man was holding down some bent over brush to cut off; his father’s axe did not make a clean cut and sliced upward to cut the young man; or the axe went cleanly through with the same result. With his hand hanging by only a few cords and a little skin and but one artery not severed, the young Indian, made his painful way over the rough 2 mile course through the woods to the Eli LaPointe lumber camp. During that journey he held his wounded hand and arm with the left-hand; staunching the blood flow as much as possible. But when he reached the camp he was greatly weakened by the loss of blood.
In the meantime his father had gone through the woods to the place where the other men were working to bring them to his son’s aid. LaPointe and Oscar Jeffers, in charge of the camp, stopped the flow of blood with a tourniquet and then made preparation for the 20 mile trip by horse and sled over the ice to the city. They left the island at three o’clock, arrived at Bayfield, at ten that night and took the injured man to an Ashland hospital by car.
On March 13, the Press reported that the doctors at the hospital sewed up his hand and gave hope that he would not lose the use of that member.
 The first lumber to be brought in from any of the island camps this spring went to the Schroeder Lumber Company at Ashland when the scow Finn McCool docked at Ashland Sunday night with a load of ties from the Eli LaPointe camp on Rice’s Island. The ties were cut during the winter and piled on the shore to await the opening of navigation on the lake. It is understood that the Rice’s Island camp will run again this summer. Bayfield County Press, May 1, 1930
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Eli LaPointe Lumber Camp Rocky Island ca 1966. Bunk House, Cook Shanty and Office in background.
Robert J Nelson Collection
This history brief was written by Robert J. Nelson. Generously sharing our local history through his research and writing.