Our Mission is: "To continue the over 100-year presence of family heritage, culture and rich human tradition on Isle Royale; to assure the preservation of historic family dwellings; to enhance the experience of NPS staff and Park visitors by serving as authentic links to Isle Royale's rich human history."

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What if you could go back to time and observe people living sensibly with  nature without  electricity, running water,  and telephones? What if you could authentically experience and inter-act with and  island folk  that have experienced "boat day" for over 6 generations? What if you could understand the lifestyle, culture and feeling of a place going back to a bygone era, learning about the traditions, heritage and culture passed on over the generations? Would you consider this a cultural landscape worth preserving?

Isle Royale is such a place you can experience and question this culture and history, along with the well known wilderness. Just a few of the families that once inhabited Isle Royale still call the island home. We have founded the Isle Royale Families and Friends Association, a 501(c)(3) organization. We are open to membership to all those committed to maintaining our  feeling of place that existed in the early 20th century, which was the height of the Fishing/Resort era of Isle Royale.  Working in partnership with the National Park Service, our members provide Interpretive Programs, Tours of historic cultural sites, and the maintenance of Island buildings that qualify for the National Historic Register, including the two story log building on Barnum  that was the first hotel on Isle Royale. Our efforts are designed promote and maintain the natural wonders of the  Isle Royale wilderness, and at the same time  to tell the authentic story of those who came to Isle Royale over 100 years ago. In the space of Isle Royale's history, our time on the island has been short, nonetheless, families representing the commercial fisherman, miners, hotel owners and cottage folks, provide an authentic link to the rich era on Isle Royale.

IRFFA NEWS November 2005

Tobin Harbor IRFFA Meeting July 31st, 2005

Our meeting this summer took place in Tobin Harbor on Merritt Island on July 31st. Over 40 families and friends of the original families came and enjoyed a wonderful day. Guests of our meeting included Phyllis Green, Isle Royale Superintendent and Liz Valencia Isle Royale Cultural Resource Officer, Royce Yeater, Midwest Director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Mary Alice Hansen and her husband Frank of the North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum and Brian Lambert, an independent writer.

Group Picture on Merritt Island

IRFFA Meets with the Isle Royale Superintendent

IRFFA board members, David Barnum, Grant Merritt, Missy McDonald, and Tom Gale met with Superintendent Green and Cultural Resource Officer Liz Valencia on August 1st 2005. Royce Yeater of the National Trust was a guest of our meeting with the park. It was a very productive meeting. Superintendent Green expressed a desire to work with families doing preservation projects on historic buildings in the park.

L-R David Barnum, Tom Gale, Missy McDonald, Grant Merritt, Phyllis Green, Royce Yeater (Liz Valencia was the picture taker)

"Exemplary" Historic Preservation on Fish Island

Royce Yeater, of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, toured Fish Island where Jim Anderson's family fished commercially since 1912. The Anderson's island is located just across from Belle Isle, where the Belle Isle Lodge once existed. The Jim and his daughter Carla have been working to restore their camp to it's original state. They have been assisted by Paul and Patty Stariha. After his tour Royce termed the preservation work being done as "exemplary".

Royce Yeater of the National Trust and Carla Anderson
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a privately funded non-profit organization that provides leadership, education, advocacy, and resources to save America's diverse historic places and revitalize our communities.

Restoration Project on the "Big" Boat House on Barnum Island

Around 1910 the large cedar sided boat house built for George G. Barnum I. It was first used to store a gas boat named the Sunbeam. From 1919-1971 it was the home of the 25' gas and sailing boat the Scout. In 1971 George G. Barnum III sold the Scout to Westy Farmer of Rock Harbor for $1.00. It was donated by Mr. Farmer to the National Park. The Scout remained on Mott Island for some years and was later acquired by Fred Funke who brought it to the Apostle Islands. Mr. Funke donated it to the Bayfield Maritime Museum where it under went extensive restoration. The Scout now sits as a display out side of the museum.

The big boat house  is shown around 1940

Big Boat House prior to the restoration effort
(click on the picture for restoration pictures)

Isle Royale families and friends 2006 Winter Meeting

Join us for a weekend of Isle Royale fellowship and education
January 27: Informal dinner
       January 28th: Planning Meeting 1pm
Social Hour:  6pm-7pm                 
Presentation: TBA                            
Location: Inn on the Lake, Duluth, MN

The Inn on the Lake has rooms available for those coming from out of town for a rate of $99.00. Rooms are limited and the rate is only good until December 27th, 2005. Contact information is:
         The Inn on the Lake
          350 Canal Park
             Duluth, MN 55802
                     1-888-668-4352, or 218-726-1111

Other Great Isle Royale Not for Profit Organizations

Isle Royale Natural History association
A non-profit educational organization, the Isle Royale Natural History Association (IRNHA), in partnership with the National Park Service, promotes the public's understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of Isle Royale National Park and Keweenaw National Historical Park.

 Northshore Commercial Fishing Museum
Governed by the Tofte Historical Society, the North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum operates as an education 501(c) non-profit, dedicated to "the collection, preservation and dissemination of historical knowledge… with specific emphasis on commercial fishing and the more general relationship of early lifestyles to the shore and waters of Lake Superior" (THS By Laws, Article II). With over 400 members and numerous volunteers, the Tofte Historical Society and Museum are growing and well supported.

Our mission is to educate, represent, and promote the interest of power and sail boaters, sport fishermen, canoeists, kayakers, backpackers, and all visitors of Isle Royale National Park.


A Trip Around Isle Royale on the Halcyon I

Take a trip around Isle Royale in 1915. Below is  the first installment of the Halcyon I log beginning in August

Halcyon I
Log Book Pages for Halcyon I August 1915
(double click to enlarge pictures)

Commercial Fisherman Stanley Sivertson 


Watch the news story played on KDLH - Ch. 3 about Isle Royale
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Last modified: June 28, 2007