Thursday, October 9, 2014


Shown on the former Hansen / Standard Oil pier are Ferry Line
Vice President Rich Ellefson, Coastal Engineer David Wentland
and Ferry Line President Hoyt Purinton.
Washington Island -

Changes may appear to happen slowly on Washington Island, but they do happen.

The major news in this entry is about a change of hands on the property that was Ray Hansen's, most often referred to as either the Hansen Oil or Standard Oil property.

The pier and the upland property that supported the oil storage and transfer business, so critical to the island these many years, had been cleared of tanks and associated pumps and piping quite a few years ago, when storage was moved to a new Hansen tank facility near East Side Road and Town Line Road.

Except for an old shed containing a few related fuel transfer items, and seasonal boat moorings, the property has been mostly vacant since that time.

As adjacent landowner, and a business dependent upon water frontage and mooring for its vessels, the Ferry Line had expressed interest in purchase of the property, a transaction that was accomplished in the early days of the fall season.

While no long term plans have yet been made, initial efforts will stabilize and repair the pier.   Coastal Engineer David Wentland, of Docks & Marinas, Inc., Green Bay, will offer a plan on how best to repair the pier, work that could be done yet this winter from shore.  Attention will then be turned toward the treatment of upland property, how to best to mesh with adjacent properties, and whether safe public access opportunities, such as pier fishing, can be included and managed.

Historical note:   Hoyt Purinton, great grandson of J. W. Cornell, received the Title papers on the property intended to be purchased September 12, 2014.  This was exactly 104 years - to the day - from the date when John W. Cornell purchased the same land from Bo Anderson and Ole Christiansen.  Cornell, we presume, later sold to Standard Oil, and more recently the title was transferred to Ray Hansen who assumed ownership of the property along with the Standard Oil distributorship he already managed.

Season about to close

This week marks what for all purposes is the last of the "busy" fall tourism weeks, although we anticipate lively traffic yet through the end of the month, especially while fall colors are vibrant.

Our schedule for the ferries to and from Northport cuts back Oct. 20 - from eleven to six trips.  Many island retail shops will soon operate with curtailed hours or days of the week.   The Cherry Train - an air conditioned ride that can be miserably cold on certain fall days - is nearing the end of its 2014 track, soon ready to head for the roundhouse.  And at Jackson Harbor, the Karfi's schedule to Rock Island ends Monday.  Columbus Day is the last day of service.

I took my last turn at the Karfi's wheel Tuesday with Tony Woodruff as my crew.  The time seems to fly each one of those days I've been aboard.   I've enjoyed the full schedule of Rock Island trips - when campers and piles of gear await us on the docks at either end for a quick turn-around - as well as the softer fall schedule, when Tony and I pass the time between trips talking sailboat designs and past cruises with nostalgic regret for the short summer just passed.  (If we were tuned in to the ice boating season, our regret would soon be replaced!)

The fall weather and shorter days make the realism of camping or tramping on Rock Island less appealing to visitors.  It was just yesterday (Wednesday) that high velocity westerly winds and the small handful of Rock Island travelers, led to cancellation of the afternoon's two trips.   But overall, 2014 ferry traffic made it a good tourism season, and we look forward to seeing the next one roll around.

Apple cider at the Farm Museum and the Fall Harvest Festival Dinner at Trinity mark two major events on the island this weekend, paired with outstanding tree color everywhere.   Hardly any leaves have so far fallen, and the tree colors now may be placed in the 40% range, turning much later than many other island autumns.   There are still plenty of great fall days to enjoy.

 -  Dick Purinton

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