Glacial polished dolostone on Schoolhouse Beach, Washington Island, WI.
Charlie and I began to swap stories about our time on Cumberland Island as we visited with Susan who was putting the finishing touches on her homemade lasagna. Charlie, a coastal geologist who taught for Northeastern Illinois University, has led geology groups on Cumberland Island and I have recently circumnavigated it by kayak. Cumberland Island is Georgia's largest and southernmost barrier island. Its 9,800 acres of designated wilderness include pristine maritime forests undeveloped beaches. Although the earliest records of the coastal environments in parts of the southeastern United States have been lost due to the continuing rise of the sea, in 1970 an extensive shell midden area with Spanish and historic Indian ceramics was found. The center of the site is 3.6 miles from the NW tip of Amelia Island. The shell midden runs almost a mile along the island’s edge with its south end on the Old Thomas Carnegie family estate of Dungeness on Cumberland Island. (4)
Gathering at the table now for a candle-lit dinner in Charlie and Susan’s charming 1800s home, the conversation of our group began to focus on Washington Island in Door County which also happened to be where I had recently kayaked. Door County is named after the straight between the Door Peninsula and Washington Island; Porte des Morts, or “Death’s Door,” which links Lake Michigan and Green Bay between the northern tip of the Peninsula of Door County, Wisconsin, and a group of islands dominated by Washington Island. The area is littered with shipwrecks and is notorious for unpredictable weather that can increase to gale forces and more almost without warning.
1. Mike Sula, The Vanishing Mother Lode, Chicago Reader; 7/1/04.
2. Elizabeth Harmon, Fossil Hunters Dig the Past in Illinois or out West, suburban residents seek bits of history, Arlington Heights Daily Herald; 7/3/03.