Rock Island Boathouse

In 1929 Chester Thordarson built this boathouse with help from Frederick Dinkelberg, a noted Chicago architect, to design the limestone monolith; Thordarson served as his own general contractor. The structure was anchored to bedrock seven feet below the water’s surface. All the stone – in fact, almost all the building materials, except the red tile roof that weighs 50 tons – came from the island. The lower level of the boathouse can accommodate two 50-foot yachts. Atop it, rising 65 feet above the water, is the 40’ x 70’ architectural wonder that Thordarson called his Jewel House of Art and Nature. Thordarson’s boathouse has been deemed one of the most historically significant buildings in the state, it is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Categories: Activities & Attractions

Hours/Availability

6am-11pm (the Karfi Ferry only runs from Memorial Day-Columbus Day)

More Information

How to get there:

Two ferry rides are needed to reach Rock Island State Park. Take Wisconsin Highway 42 to its end at Northport, the tip of the Door County Peninsula. Take the Washington Island Ferry to Washington Island. The ferry carries people, vehicles, bicycles and freight. From the Washington Island ferry landing, travel across the island to the northeast side to the Rock Island ferry landing. Leave your vehicle or bike there and take the passengers-only Rock Island Ferry to Rock Island.

Visitors may take their boats to Rock Island, but caution is urged as Lake Michigan can be hazardous due to reefs and storms. There is a nightly fee for all boats mooring overnight at Rock Island.

A vehicle admission sticker is required on all motor vehicles stopping in state park, forest, recreation area and trail parking areas. Buy your sticker when you get to the park or in advance. Annual stickers offer admission to all state parks and forests for the calendar year.

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