Malone Fishery

Malone Island

National Park Service

Malone Fishery, 1909: William S. Cooper, ISRO Archives.

Malone Fishery, 1909: William S. Cooper, ISRO Archives.


he following collection of photos derive from the William S. Cooper and Elizabeth Sutherlin collections at Isle Royale NP. Cooper was a naturalist who primarily focused on the island's wildlife, but he did also capture people and places. His photograph was taken during a 1909 visit. Although Sutherlin's story is not presently known, we gather from her photographic journal that she was an acquaintance of the Smith family in Tobin Harbor. The journal covers her 1915 visit to Isle Royale, originating in Duluth and then circumnavigating the island with numerous stops along the way. Although many photographs were taken during the Cooper and Sutherlin visits, of special note are those taken at the fishery on Malone Island. Both visits suggest that there was more to the fishery than just fishing.

Beginning with Cooper's 1909 image, the small log buildings could be fishery related, but they also remind us of the old rental units seen at the old Park Place Resort or Minong Resort near east side of island. Most curious is the larger structure in the background. The mirrored doors and windows suggest that it was a duplex; a log partition/wall is barely visible through the open door. Additionaly, there's nice lattice work facing the porch exterior. One might wonder just what sort of fishery bothers with such detail in 1909.

The large building appears unfinished as there are no actual doors or windows, only the openings. One can see in Sutherlin's 1915 image that it has since partially collapsed. Still no doors or windows so it likely remained unfinished. So for whatever reason, the place appears to have been abandoned by 1909, and even more so by 1915.

Separate images in the Sutherlin collection show a basic dock on the water. No fish house or boat house, which are somewhat ubiquitous elements to a fishery complex. However, the third image presents a large wire basket, or net. So fishing was a component to Malone Island history. Maybe one of the Malone's, having fished for a year or so, entertained a side project such as a small resort. The photographs suggest that this construction effort was short-lived, possibly related to reduced funding or interest.

Per Tim Cochrane, the fishing basket is a fyke net, which saw little use at Isle Royale when compared with other methods. They are like mini pound nets that would be used in shallower water and could be set by one person, versus the production of a traditional pound net, which required driving long poles into the bottom. Fyke nets do require posts, but not as big, nor extensive of a wing (that leads fish to the pot). The image shows the basket of the fyke net which gets smaller and smaller until fish collect at the back end. The trapped fish would usually stay alive in the basket until you pulled them up.

Elizabeth Sutherlin Photo Journal - 1915 - Page 1

Elizabeth Sutherlin Photo Journal - 1915 - Page 2


Help Tell The Story

Are you related to this family? 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. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. Facebook Post: Malone Fishery. N.p.: National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 2016. Online Resource.