This island owned and operated by J. D. McAuliffe from 1872, was hailed as "a shady retreat for pleasure seekers ... (with) a fine collection of animals and a museum of rare specimens." In 1897 Eaton Rapids bought it for a city park. From 1908 to 1929 the Eaton County Battalion of the G.A.R. held its annual encampment at what was then named Grand Army Park. Summer concerts, reunions and picnics brought many here over the years, A group formed to save the park from erosion served to refocus attention on this site.