Kodak Moments June 10 2013

Rock Island scenes given as gift by C.H. Thordarson, March 30, 1920

Washington Island, Wisconsin -

A recent Wall Street Journal article Jan. 5, 2012 described the imminent demise of the world-famous Kodak company:
  "Eastman Kodak Co. is preparing to seek bankruptcy protection in the coming weeks, people familiar with the matter said, a move that would cap a stunning comedown for a company that once ranked among America's corporate titans."
What does this news item have to do with Rock Island and the album shown above?  Likely, nothing, except for the film emulsion or paper, most probably a Kodak Company product.  However, there has been for some time an accreditation to George Eastman for photos taken on Rock Island in the early years of C.H. Thordarson's ownership.   The connection has persisted, but so far, no hard evidence has come to light to connect Rock Island with the famous creator of every day photo products.
The album came to the Island Archives in November this way:   Ingert Johnson, wife of the late Al Johnson, called to say she had a book of photos of Rock Island that had been passed to her by the late Liberty Grove resident Bill Beckstrom.  Bill (we surmise) had been given it by the family of noted Door County Historian, H.R. Holand.   Holand's daughter was either given the album, or it was passed to her in his estate.  H.R. Holand, in his wide-ranging historical interests, had become acquainted with Chester Hjortur Thordarson, who owned Rock Island.  The inside cover of the album has a nice contour map of Rock Island, and the opposing fly leaf has the inscription:
To My Friend                        March 30, 1920 
        Mr. H. R. Holand
        who first told the 
       story of Rock Island to the
       people of Wisconsin

      I give this book.
            C.H. Thordarson

Thordarson purchased land on Rock Island in 1909 and 1910, and so we can estimate that the photos in the album were taken some time in the ensuing decade.  An interesting pair of photos shows a wooden tower (that I estimate to be in the 50-ft. range) in the high-ground interior of Rock Island.  An old fire tower?  Not so, says Kirby Foss, recently retired Rock Island Park Superintendent who worked on Rock Island for all but nine of his 33 years of state park service.

 "Phil Peterson referred to it as a survey tower used in the early survey of Rock and Washington Islands.  But he never found the tower or the exact location.  Neither did Tom Jessen, Phil's successor, or did I.  People who've hunted on Rock year after year, who have pretty well walked every spot of ground, they've never seen evidence of the tower.  Tom always thought it might have been made of hardwood, the fact there are no remains left."

Excerpt from Ferry Cabin News.