Johnson Brothers Fishery

Rock Harbor - Star Island

By: Toupal, Stoffie, and Zedeno

Arnold Johnson Residence (#136), 1949: Humberger [NVIC: 40-290], ISRO Archives.


ocated approximately mid-way between Rock Harbor Lodge and Rock Harbor Lighthouse is a small, rocky, five-point island called Star Island. The Johnson families were relocated to this site from the Rock Harbor Lighthouse and Edisen Fishery in 1938. The brothers Milford and Arnold Johnson were fishing partners for about twenty-five years; Arnold quit fishing in 1951. When they and their families located on Star Island, there were two dwellings that they renovated for the families.

The island barely provided an adequate fish camp having only a small area of soil and little room for the children to play. Fritz and Ida Johnson owned Star Island and fished there from 1922 to about 1925. When their son drowned, they left. John and Lorraine Johnson fished Star Island in the early 1930s.

Although in one of the busier areas of Isle Royale, one could feel quite isolated on Star Island. Milford Johnson moved his fishing site from Star Island to Crystal Cove in 1956. The buildings at Star Island were destroyed when he left and Arnold gave up his fishing rights. Unlike some fish camps, the fishermen used Star Island only for living and fishing. The location provided a safe harbor, however, and fishing remained profitable since most of the family fishing grounds did not change.

Image Gallery

Site Map

Star Island Site Map


Star Island Site Map, 1982: Dave Arthurs, Isle Royale National Park.


Help Tell The Story

Are you connected to this fishery? Would you be willing to share stories or photos associated with related events? If so, we would love to hear from you! Please contact the Cultural Resource Manager at Isle Royale National Park. Or write to:

Isle Royale National Park
800 East Lakeshore Drive
Houghton, Michigan 49931-1896


  1. Newland, Dave. 2003. Executive Summary of the Johnson Life Lease. Isle Royale National Park. Houghton, MI.

  2. Toupal, Rebecca S., Richard W. Stoffie, and M. Nieves Zedeno. The Isle Royale Folkefiskerisamfunn: Familier som levde av fiske: An Ethnohistory of the Scandinavian Folk Fishermen of Isle Royale National Park. Report for the National Park Service, Midwest Regional Office. Tucson: Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology, University of Arizona, 2002.