Eastward of Duluth-Superior, along the south shore of Lake Superior, lie several small fishing villages. Here, along the shoreline, Port Wing was the first consolidated school district in Wisconsin; early settlement and development of the territory was along the shore of the lakes. Port Wing, by the way, may have been one of the first communities in the U. S. to bus students, so to speak. Wagons and sleds were used to bring them to the large three-story clapboard schoolhouse.

It was just to the east that Minneapolis lawyer Thomas J. Stevenson sailed along the shore around the turn of the century and noticed the abundance of wild fruit and grasses growing throughout the countryside. Remembering the mythological horn of plenty, he named the town he founded here in 1902 Cornucopia. He may have been a bit optimistic; the coming railroad bypassed the area.

The land past Cornucopia ends in a blunt, red-banked point, then Chequamegon Bay curves briefly back to the west. At the tip of this point the Red Cliff Reservation is home to nearly 500 Chippewa natives. It was one of these Chippewa, named Nanabazhoo, that caught the imagination of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, although it appears he didn't fancy the name. Instead he borrowed the name of a legendary Onondaga chief here in New York, shifted it to the other end of the Great Lakes, and called his hero Hiawatha. So, if you're looking for the shores of Gitcheegoomee you might try north of Syracuse.

The final North American glacial period ended here somewhere around 14,000 B. C., in the period known as the Wisconsinian. One souvenir it left behind was a series of islands off the northern and eastern shore of the point. A group of Jesuits priests settled on the 21 islands in the group, later British trader Jonathan Carver set up a post there. Someone decided that there were twelve of the islands, and so they were named the Apostles. Curiously enough, none of the islands actually took on the name of apostles, unless there was a different set we don't know about, with names like Madeline, Basswood, Hermit, Manitou, Rocky, Gull, Stockton, Michigan. And Devils? I don't think so.

The islands became hosts to waves of tourists as resorts of the wealthy sprang up along the lake shore. If you ferry out to Madeline Island today you can tour a museum of the American Fur Company (which means it was British-owned) or play on a golf course designed by Robert Treat Jones. The Apostles have five lighthouse and six shipwrecks. One of the latter, the schooner barge Noquebay caught fire in 1905 and was beached on Stockton Island. Unlike many Lakes wrecks, there was no loss of life. But 600,000 board feet of hemlock lumber never made it to its final destination, the lumberyards of Buffalo.

OUTRO: For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor.

© 1998 David Minor / Eagles Byte