Fisherman’s Island is an uninhabited island in the U.S. state of Michigan, located between Lake Huron and Presque Isle Bay on the eastern shoreline. The island has a total area of 1,300 acres (530ha), but due to its small size, it is often described as being no more than “a speck” or “a dot”. It lies just off the coast from Rogers City at approximately 47.566N 119.726W. The nearest landmass is Presque Isle County Park which is about 3 miles away. Although there are many stories claiming that the island was once home to Native Americans, early settlers reported seeing no evidence of any permanent settlement.
Fishermen’s Island State Park comprises 13 historic buildings and 4 sites, all maintained in excellent condition and open year-round for public tours. Highlights include the Tower House, built in 1871; Big Barn, constructed in 1893; the Farmhouse, built around 1920; and the Sand Point Lighthouse, built in 1870. Tours of the historic buildings are available throughout the day Monday – Saturday 9am – 4pm. Sunday hours vary according to facility. All sites are also accessible via self-guided trail. Visitors needing special accommodations can utilize the adaptive reuse program, allowing qualified individuals with physical challenges to tour the facilities without causing disruption.
This unique partnership allows everyone access to these important historical locations while providing much needed funding for maintenance and operations. The Friends of Fishermen’s Island organization led efforts to secure funding commitments from regional, national, and international sources to support rehabilitation and preservation activities on the island. Thanks to those efforts, $3.2 million was secured in 2014 to establish a Special Events Facility within the Tower House. The facility will host weddings, receptions, business meetings, and other events. There is a maximum capacity of 200 guests. No alcoholic beverages or unlicensed motor vehicles are permitted.The Nature Center features hands-on exhibits and displays about the natural and cultural history of the island. Admission to the park is free, although there is a charge for admission to the individual buildings.
A persistent story dating back to the 1940s holds that the entire population of the island were relocated to Canada during the 1950s after having their homes destroyed by fire. However, this seems unlikely since the Canadian government had been trying to relocate them to the mainland for years prior to the relocation occurring in 1956. What is more likely happened was that most of the residents moved out of the island when they could no longer farm the land due to crop failures and other problems. Those who remained tended to be the elderly, infirm, and young children whose families had recently died.
By 1960, only 12 adults remained on the island. In 1961, two women from New York, Jean and Elaine Turner, purchased the island with plans to develop a resort. They hired architect Ralph B. Herrick to draw up plans which included hotels, conference centers, cottages, gardens, fountains, roads, and water systems. However, before anything materialized, both sisters died in a plane crash in Florida in 1966, leaving the property to fall into disrepair. In 1969, the city of Rogers City acquired the property through eminent domain, intending to raze the buildings and use the sand to build a park. However, local citizens convinced the city to preserve the structures and allow them to become part of the new state park system instead. At first, only one structure was occupied, the Tower House. Built in 1871, it became the island’s hotel and general store. Other buildings were added later including cabins, stables, and service facilities.
The park offers:
- boat launch