Isle Royale historic designation entirely appropriate

Isle Royale has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, something we suspect a great many people thought already had happened.

The nomination covers not only the main island proper but more than 450-plus islands and surrounding waters in Northern Lake Superior. Isle Royale has been a national park since 1945. In 1976, Congress set aside 99 percent of the main island as wilderness, a recent Mining Journal story detailed.

The island is rich in tradition and history, serving as a site for commercial, subsistence and recreational fishing, outdoor recreation, copper mining, timbering, trapping and hunting.

Most recently, the island has been in the news as the host for a reintroduced wolf population.

The island’s history of human engagement dates back more than 4,500 years, starting with prehistoric mining and other indigenous uses. Ancient people dug hundreds of pits to reach pure copper that they could hammer into spear points.

After the mid-1800s, commercial copper mining and commercial fishing took over the island, according to the nomination, which also encompasses environmental history, describing how the sea lamprey invasion of Lake Superior in the 1950s led to the collapse of the lake trout population “with lingering effects still seen through greatly altered native fish compositions.”

We welcome this nomination. The island is truly a state and national treasure, one that should be protected and held for future generations. This new status will help insure that happens.

— The Mining Journal (Marquette)


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