Dassler Camp

Tobin Harbor

Dassler Cottage, 1950s: [NVIC: 50-1106], ISRO Archives.


harles F.W. (Judge Dassler) from Leavenworth, Kansas, owned 2.23 acres with a main cabin and a sleeping cabin (as well as boathouse and dock) at the very end of Scoville Point. He also owned a 1/3 share of another 48.55 acres (the heirs of Scoville owned the other 2/3). Judge Dassler was not in favor of a national park and did not believe the public wanted one or would visit if a park were established. He did not want to sell his land and was not interested in a life lease if the land were taken from him.

Eventually Judge Dassler transferred the property to J.C. Dassler (his son) so that the younger man could get a life lease on the property. In discussion with E.G. Willemin, land purchaser, it became clear that the Dassler family felt their property was worth more than the government offer. J.C. Dassler also wanted to know what the cost difference would be to add his children to the lease - his 25-year-old daughter and his 16-year-old son. Willemin advised J.C. Dassler that it would be very difficult to add the son, as he was not an adult. On February 9, 1940, the Dasslers signed a life lease that included their daughter Margaret, but not their son Dale.

"I am not in favor of the National Park and do not want to leave my property. We have come to Isle Royale for 30 years. There is neither public demand nor public necessity for a national park. I might just convey all of my property to my son and let him benefit from the life lease. Again, I see no reason for a national park and no one will visit if one is established". -- J.C. Dassler, 1937.

In 1949 the Dassler family began serious inquiries concerning adding Dale to their lease. They thought it a simple matter of fairness since they wanted to add Dale anyway and learned of the Gale family having young children on the lease. Isle Royale staff were sympathetic to the issue of fairness but could see no way of rewriting the lease. In 1953 J.C. Dassler offered to transfer the southern tip of Scoville Point in exchange for adding Dale to the lease. He was offered no encouragement in pursuing the matter.

In 1977 John Morehead arranged for Special Use Permits for the minor children and Dale signed a letter of intent. In 1982 his sister Margaret died and Dale was issued a permit. In 1990 Dale died and beginning in 1992 the cabin was used for the Artist-in-residence program. The Lichte family made a generous donation of the furnishings in the cabins (donated to IRKPA).


This life lease expired in 1990 with the death of Dale Dassler who was subject to a Special Use Permit after the death of Margaret Dassler Lichte in 1982. The cabin is now used for the artist-in-residence program (beginning in 1992). The furnishings in the cabin were donated to IRNHA for the exclusive use of the artist-in-residence program.

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