There is an island on a lake in Northern Wisconsin that positively intrigues me. Denby Island, between Medicine and Laurel Lakes in Three Lakes Wisconsin is the setting I have chosen to use for a story I've been writing (or more like thinking about writing.). It's a seriously creepy place that sparks my imagination in a huge way.
The island is shaped (from the air) like a hatchet. In fact, my story will be called "Hatchet Island" or something like that. The large part of the isle is fenced in with 10-foot high chain-link fencing that is topped by barbed wire in some spots. Parts of the fencing appear almost new - other areas are in disrepair, though still standing. Where the large island joins the long spit that juts out from it there is a stone archway set with a door in the fencing. Then a bridge over to the spit, on which sits a several-hundred year old French chateau, slate roofing and all. Apparently it was dissassembled and brought over near the turn of the century. There is also a small caretakers cottage on that spit, along with two over-the-water boathouses and a permanent dock. Near the bridge is a grotto of some kind with a sundial and two other arches made of stones. That area seems nearly like a ritual setting. The chateau is stone and the whole of that spit and the big island is heavily wooded. From the water, one cannot see into the interior of the large part (the hatchet) of the island, though I know there are a few buildings in the center of it. (My son and cousin did a fly-over and took pictures from my cousin's two-seater plane a year or so ago for me.) Those buildings appear to be either barns (or something similar) and perhaps a big greenhouse of some kind.
Whenever we have asked townspeople about the history of that island, it seems to us that the questions are either evaded or met with a shrug. Can no one know what goes on (or went on) in that large part of the island? For two years we have asked and asked about this property. The local antiques shop proprietess claims to know the owner and have toured the house, which she claims is "loaded" with french antiques. Interesting. But no one seems to have been able to get on that island to look around at what is going on. Hence the mystery. As to the buildings in the center of the large part of the island - well no one knows about them - or at least is talking.
It so happens my son is good friends with a local boy. The young man has stayed with us a number of times at our property nearby. I asked him about Denby's history and was again met with the "I dunno" shrug - but this time with a promise that he'd ask his father, who is postmaster in that area for the last 20 some-odd years. So he knows both the owner and some of the details about that property. At any rate, the father has agreed to get me an interview with the owner, who is apparently quite elderly. Am I ever excited about this. I've been photographing that place for two years from the water. Maybe finally I'll get some answers!
Guesses about what has or is going on there have ranged from "Jurassic Park" kind of wild-goose musings to the more practical suggestions of "deer farm". That doens't seem to fit either though. Deer farm in the Northwoods of Wisconsin? Kind of an oxymoron. It has to be something else entirey. My son thinks they are growing "weed" up there. My daughter thinks it's a government operation. See what I mean? Hugely varied ideas about that place.
Certainly that place has seen its heyday come and go. Much of it appears in disrepair. The owner is in her 80's and reputably, her offspring aren't interested in the place. I've seen her once, walking up to the house from a pontoon boat moored at her boathouse landing. I am so looking forward to meeing her and maybe even getting a tour myself. It seems that one day very soon, the big mysteries of the island will no longer be consigned to my imagination but will be out-in-the open.
Not sure how I feel about that. Sometimes it's a whole lot more fun to guess. :) Now back to my story writing....