Park History Rock Harbor Lodge Guest House, Isle Royale National Park, Houghton Michigan

Tourism on Isle Royale began with day or occasional visitation in the 1850s. By 1860-80 a limited number of excursion boats visited the island on day trips and fishing trips. From 1888, with the scheduled boat service of the A. Booth Company from Duluth to the island to service fishermen, the resort era began in earnest. By the turn of the century, development of resorts began with a few fishermen building cottages for tourists, as in the case of the Johns Hotel, Mattson's Tobin Harbor Resort and Tourist Home Resort. Soon after, individuals began to build resorts as commercial ventures: Park Place, Singer's and Belle Isle. A private club was established at Washington Harbor during the same period. By 1904, six resorts were in operation on the island; five of these were established between 1900-1902.

The Park Place Hotel was established by Kneut Kneutson during this period after vacationing at Mattson's Tobin Harbor Resort. Ownership of the Park Place Hotel was held by the directors and original stockholders, Kneut Kneutson and John E. Tappen, under the name Park place Hotel Company. Kneutson was to directly operate the resort until World War I, when it was closed to the public. After the war he hired a series of managers until, in 1922, he hired his daughter Bertha to manage the resort under the agreement that he would build a modern lodge building, the Guest House, for visitor accommodations. The name of the resort was apparently changed to Rock Harbor Lodge at this time. Kneutson is supposed to have deeded the property to Bertha Farmer "after a few years." Mrs. Farmer was to remain manager until 1942.

The growth of resorts corresponded with the growth of private summer homes in the areas near the resorts. Both developments were possible because of the availability of land from the Isle Royale Land Corporation, a major landholding company from the last mining era. Tourism and resorts like Park Place Hotel expanded throughout the early 1900s, with a slowdown during World War I. The development was closely tied to transportation to the island, and most closely tied to the Booth and White Transportation Lines.

After the sinking of the America in 1928, and the closing of the Booth company operations within a year, the resort era on Isle Royale began its decline. Problems came from the unreliable transportation, the national depression and the establishment of Isle Royale as a National Park. In 1937, Rock Harbor Lodge was considered one of the two viable resorts left operating on the island. The Rock Harbor Lodge was purchased by the National Park Service on July 22, 1938. The Park Service purchased all the other resort holdings on the island by the end of 1938. The Rock Harbor Lodge was included in NPS management plans as a visitor facility with the Guest House to be "removed upon provision of an acceptable unit." Although tourism continues since that time, it is of a different character from the earlier resort era.