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Remembering the history of Island Park

July 27, 2012
The Alpena News

It has long been on my mind and Saturday's Lifestyles story about Island Park clinched it.

As one who loves my Thunder Bay Country history, I have to step forward and say my piece.

Oxbow Island was its name before the Sportsmen's Club purchase in the late 1940s. It was so named because it lay across the water from the Oxbow Dairy Farm part of which is an extension of the current Duck Park and the rest condominiums. Island Park is a nice name. But it is so innocuous.

The name of the stretch of land facing the island was Island Park. Harold Rienke, spearheaded placing corn dispensing machines along a fence at Island Park. It was a simpler time and we had no idea how feeding birds could set us up for the overpopulation we experienced 50 years later.

Oxbow Island was a favorite summer destination for local kids. Our imaginations could run rampant and we could chase, climb, roll in the sandy slopes and be. There were names like "The Devil's Classroom" a low lying swampy area where one was sure snakes lurked to attack when you disturbed them that fueled our excitement and daring-do to prove our bravery to playmates.

The name Duck Park emerged in the '70s when the teenagers were using it for a place to gather and do their thing. For a while it was synonymous with a place to buy and sell drugs. It was around that time that the US-23 entrance was closed.

As a native, I recall the old names and places which transplants may never have known. My point is that Oxbow Island and Island Park are historically more accurate and unique, just one more gem that makes Alpena sparkle on the Sunrise Shore.

Kathleen Melville-Hall




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