Davidson Camp

Rock Harbor

Davidson Cottage: NVIC: 40-120, ISRO Archives.


uring the first decade of the twentieth century, excluding Singer's Island House, Isle Royale's tourist accommodations were simple and rustic. Tourists could count on being provided with food and shelter, but the emphasis was on the outdoors, not on social activities, lovely rooms with a view, or elegant surroundings.

Erik Johnson started the small-scale Tourist's Home resort in 1902 on what was then known as Johnson Island. Johnson's resort had a large dock, main house, dining house, and several sleeping cottages. In the 1910s, Johnson sold the resort to the Davidson family of St. Paul, who built the present house c. 1922. Many of the small resort cottages were brought and moved to Tobin's Harbor Resort (the Minong Lodge) to be used as sleeping cabins.

This Colonial Revival style summer house was unique on Isle Royale, where the majority of private recreational structures were small and one-story frame cabins with unfinished interiors. The Davidson Island site is an example of fishery that evolved into a resort camp. At the urging of the NPS administrator and 1st Superintendent George Baggley, Dr. Frank H. Clay relocated from Clay Island on the North Shore to Davidson Island so as to provide medical advice and/or services should it be deemed necessary. Dr. Clay saw this as an opportunity to remain connected with the island and he accepted Baggley's request, spending a number of years at the large cabin on Davidson Island. The original home at this site, built by Erik Johnson, was burned. The Davidson location is now used as the Boreal Research Station for visiting researchers and seasonal NPS staff.

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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 Cultural Landscapes Inventory. 2010. Davidson Island - Davidson House. Park Historic Architecture and Cultural Landscapes Program, U.S. National Park Service.