Discovering the history of Wisconsin's Madeline Island - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Discovering the history of Wisconsin's Madeline Island

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Madeline Island (WAOW) -
The Apostle Islands are a beautiful area of Wisconsin branching off from the Bayfield Peninsula. This makes them the northern-most point in our state, and because of their location one of Wisconsin's most picturesque landscapes.
 
But of the 22 islands making up the chain, only one is home to year-round residents. It's called Madeline Island, a community of fewer than 270 residents. But though the island may be small, it's home to some extraordinary stories.
 
"You get out on the water, you look back at Bayfield, it's the hillsides. They're just a glow with the maples," Mike Radtke told Newsline 9.
 
Radtke works with the Madeline Island Ferry. It's a network of boats transporting everything from families to four wheel drives back and forth from mainland Wisconsin to the island.
 
"Madeline Island is about 14 to 15 miles long and four and a half miles wide," Radtke said. "I like to tell people it's about the size of Manhattan, but definitely with less population," he continued.
 
The island is home to some remarkably beautiful areas ranging from sandy beaches and rocky shores to dense wooded areas combined with areas of charming small-town appeal. But it's place in Wisconsin's history is what tells the story of its striking scenery.
 
"Madeline Island is one of the most historically significant places in the entire upper Midwest," Steve Cotherman of the Madeline Island Museum said.
 
"People have been coming here for thousands of years as far as we know and they continue to do that today," he said.
 
The island was coveted by both the French and the British.  The area's proximity to abundant lake fisheries attracted immigrants from Scandinavia.  But the island's history is richest in the importance it plays to Native Americans.

Madeline Island is the homeland of Chief Buffalo.
 
"He was a leader in ensuring the agreements of the 1854 treaties were being agreed upon," island resident Elizabeth Ellis said.
 
As leader of the Chippewa, it was from Madeline Island that Chief Buffalo set forth toward Washington, D.C. to meet with the president to advocate for his people.
 
"It's really extraordinary," Ellis said.
 
Ellis and her husband discovered the island on their honeymoon.    
 
"We actually were one of the many that turned around and not caught the next boat and decided to spend a little more time," Ellis said.
 
After 16 years of island living they still call Madeline home.  Proud that their lives have become part of the history of this jewel of an island in Lake Superior.  
 
For information on the Madeline Island Ferry follow this link.
 
For information on the Madeline Island Museum follow this link.
 
For information on the Madeline Island Chamber of Commerce follow this link.
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