The Islands of Lake Lucerne

An article from The Stump Sitter, by Laurel Krony, in the Forest Republican, 12/27/62

Islands of Lake LucerneThe heavenly shade of night has fallen on this cold, snow covered Northwoods.

As we sit in front of a crackling fire, snug and cozy in our living room, memories of not too long ago return to fill us with nostalgia; a day spent exploring the three large islands in Lake Lucerne, namely Sugar Loaf, Mark Antony, and none other than Cleopatra.

Sugar Loaf looks just like the name implies, a large round, high mound of earth on the south end of the lake.  This island is completely covered with tall, straight virgin pine.

Cleopatra is more narrow and much longer.  She looks like a reclining woman slightly curved alongside Mark Antony, for she lies on the east side of Mark and appears to be reaching out to him. The jutting points of land resemble arms begging to be embraced.

Cleopatra like Sugar Loaf has been a favorite picnic ground of many who like to camp out.  There are signs on these two islands that have welcomed one and all for the last 80 years.  All that has ever been asked is “Please be careful with fire” for this island like Sugar Loaf is covered with virgin pine.

Walking the length of Cleopatra and doing a little exploring, it was apparent that over the years many people have found pleasure in a day or night of playing the game, Marooned on an Island.  The ground has been well trodden with human feet.  It perhaps has added to the beauty of Cleo for her surface is smooth and sensual like a beautiful shapely woman with a flawless complexion.

There are no fallen trees, driftwood, or small brush, as the campers have cleaned every bit of wood debris to use for their campfires.

Directly west of Cleopatra like Mark Antony, a truly beautiful island that at first glance has the appearance of a lost Shang-ri-la.  The forest is thick, brush and untouched.  This island, like the others, has been privately owned by the same family for almost a decade; but unlike the other two, this one was not open to the public.

As our host’s boat rounded a curve, there was a small man-made lagoon for mooring their craft.  This is hid from the eye of a passerby and added a great deal of mystery and enchantment to my first visit on Mark Antony.  As we walked up a hand laid stone path, it came as quite a surprise to see a lovely home nestled among the magnificent trees.  This home is spacious, rustic and I think perhaps it has one of the largest fireplaces I have ever seen.  There was a body-warming fire licking at the huge logs nestled on the andirons.  The living room is comfortably furnished with divans and chairs large enough to curl up in and dream.  The most unusual thing I saw were large unpeeled ceiling beams of white birch logs.

After a few minutes rest we were all raring to go and explore this island.  Following a path and coming to a sign marked “Step Child” and another with arrows pointing inland which read “Spring”, my curiosity was almost beyond belief.  Finally, we decided to see what “Step-Child” was.

Walking close to the shoreline with its smooth white sand beach we finally came to “Step Child” (a lovely small building that reminded me of the nursery story of Hansel and Gretel when they found the gingerbread house in the forest).  It is used as a guest cottage, furnished with twin beds, dressing table and also serves as a place to change to swimming suit and vice-versa.

Next we followed the arrows pointing to “Spring”. I thought: is it possible with all this beauty of nature that a gurgling spring was found on the island?  Right about then I was thirsty and with each step the thirst became more demanding.  The visions of cool, cool water spurting from the ground where we could lie on our tummy and drink our fill became an obsession until I was stumbling over brush and fallen trees. Finally there was the sign SPRING and a bench nearby to sit upon and rest.  Yes, there it was at last—an old buggy spring tied to two trees with wire.  We sat on the bench and laughed for this little jaunt clearly shows what imagination can do.

Walking back along the path we noticed the white wooden arrows marking the way had been almost completely covered in the middle where the trees they were nailed into had grown in size with the passing years.

It appears in not too many years all that will show of the arrow signs will be the ends, and passersby will wonder how they drove those arrows right through the trees.

Our walk continued to the east and the end of the island.  There was a pole about 30 feet high with an electric wire attached that spans the lake from the island to the mainland.  This cable reaches across about 1/5 of a mile and has no support over the water.  This one pole is the only one on the island for at that point the wire has been laid underground and runs will over 1200 feet to the main home.  The original owners wanted nothing to mar the beauty of nature’s wilderness, and still have the comfort of modern living.

As we slowly walked back to the house on this sunny September afternoon toadstools seemed to opo out of the ground to show their lovely colors and shapes.  Some were round and edged with yellow and red.  Others were flat and they had popped up so fast there were sprinklings of brown pine needles on their tops.  The ground in the pine areas are covered with thick cushions of needles that have fallen through the years.

With the sun slowly descending in the west we returned to the main home to visit with our hosts and hostesses, Mr. and Mrs. Evron Davison and Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Meress, where we all enjoyed a delicious cookout dinner.  Thanks much, friends, for a wonderful day sharing your beautiful islands.

The Davisons have a year around home on the east shore of Lake Lucerne.  Mr. Davison is district forest ranger and a resident of Forest County for over 25 years.

The Meresses live at Marshfield where Mr. Meress is game warden with the Wisconsin Conservation Department.  Mr. and Mrs. Meress are former residents of Laona where Ernie was warden for a number of years.

The Davisons and Meresses purchased the Islands this fall from Grover Meisner.  These Islands had been in the Meisner family for over 80 years.  They originally were acquired by Mr. Meisner’s father in partnership with several businessmen, who had formed a corporation called the Stone Lake Island Resort Company.

They were first gotten from the United States of America by the Sturgis Lumber Co., in exchange for a tract of land officially designated as the Black Hills Reserve in South Dakota.  They were then deeded to G. D. Jones, attorney of the Sturgis Lbr. Co.  From them to Uriah A. Cheeseman, and from Uriah A. Cheeseman and his wife, Mary, to the Stone Lake Island Resort Company, from The Stone Lake Resort Co., to Grover Meisner and from Grover Meisner to Evron Davison and Ernest Meress.