The finest natural harbor on all Lake Michigan is Eagle Island, just outside of the present village of Ephraim. On the north, the island is exposed to all the storms that blow, but on the south, opening toward the nearby mainland, is a cove of deep water shaped like a horseshoe. For this reason, the island is also called Horseshoe Island.
It is the very exposed position of Eagle Island which has made it such a safe refuge for the sailor. It is a limestone rock, about a quarter mile in length and width, rising about 30 feet above the lake level and covered with a thick growth of timber. The cedar trees which love to grow in the moist teeth of the wind each year send their roots far into the crevices of the limestone. Eventually, the stone yields to the expansive force of the vegetable cells, and its fragments are precipitated upon the beach below. Here, the waves begin their grinding and polishing work on them. Finally, they become smooth pebbles and boulders which are rolled by the waves around to the sheltered south side of the island where they are deposited in two projecting arms forming the horseshoe. As the boulders which make up the welcoming arms on the south side of the island were once parts of the crags on the north side, the island is slowly though imperceptibly crawling landward.
In the meantime, the island has been a haven of refuge to thousands of storm-tossed mariners. In early days, it was quite common to see a dozen schooners riding out every savage northeaster in its snug harbor, for there no waves could reach them. Nearly all of the early French explorers and emissaries of the Crown bear witness to the charm, and the old-time fur traders, their bateaux laden with pelts from the uplands and the prairies of the land of the Dakotas, had here a favorite rendezvous.
(From Old Peninsula Days, by Hjalmar R. Holand, originally published in 1925, re-published in 1990 by Wm Caxton Ltd, 12037 Hwy 42, Ellison Bay, WI, 54210; 920.854.2955.)
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