Kelleys Island:An Island Story by Claudia M. Brown. Finished 4/11/13, 80 pages, pub. 2006
Jason and I have been taking a yearly vacation to Kelleys Island, Ohio, with my parents since 2007. Jason wanted somewhere close and relaxing. I found Kelleys Island, the largest of the US Lake Erie islands at 4.4 square miles, less than an hour and a half away. This island is so quaint and isolated that we fell in love with it as a place to get away. There is no bridge, you’ve got to take your car over on a 20 minute ferry ride, so the place never seems overrun, even during the summer when many tourists go island hopping using the different boat for day visitors without cars.
I thought this book was fascinating. For such a small place there is a lot of history. Inscription Rock is there to see. The pictographs were done by Native Americans between 1200-1600 since the latest of the pictures have white men, but no guns. The Glacial Grooves exist from the last Ice Age, about 18,000 years ago, when the glaciers scoured into the soft limestone bedrock. Stripped of soil these grooves are 400 ft by 35 ft. and contain a fossil record for all to see. Both of these are under the care of the Ohio Historical Society.
In the 1700′ s the Native Americans used it as shortcut to Canada but by the War of 1812 the military was using it and the Native Americans were driven away. In 1827 only four people lived there and that’s when continuous habitation began for the white folks. In 1833 the Kelley brothers began investing in quarrying and the rest is history.
Because it’s so isolated I’ve always been curious about the population. In 1863, there were 600 people and that was up to 1,174 in 1900. The 2010 census had the permanent population at 312. That’s quite a drop! In the winter the lake freezes over and you are stuck there with no doctor, but a plane that may or may not be able to fly you to the mainland. I love the charm of this island but don’t think I could do it. Summer residents compose about 75% of the island’s population.
Anyway, this book is a very detailed history and as someone who knows the island, I loved it! Makes me look forward to our trip this year. Here are links to past posts about our trips and a few pics. 2012 2011 2009