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The Lonely Non-Island: Unfortunately, Moose Boulder Doesn't Exist


Next a Russian doll story in the Great Lakes.


To understand it, you have to start from the outside and go all the way in. To help us do that, here's Atlas Obscura contributing writer Matthew Taub.

MATTHEW TAUB: You have Lake Superior, which is the largest freshwater lake in the world by area, and then within Lake Superior, the largest island is Isle Royale, which is a national park in Michigan. The largest lake within Isle Royale is called Siskiwit, and the largest island in Lake Siskiwit is called Ryan Island. And that makes Ryan Island the largest island in the largest lake in the largest island in the largest lake in the world.

CHANG: Did you get that?

SHAPIRO: Ryan Island is the largest island in the largest lake in the largest island in the largest lake in the world.

CHANG: But that's not all. There is one more layer.

TAUB: There was rumored to be something called Moose Flats, a seasonal pond on Ryan Island. It was said that when Moose Flats was in season, a rock inside the pond called Moose Boulder then became the largest island in the largest lake and so on.

SHAPIRO: And so on and so forth. Or so we thought. But a mother and son went to see Moose Boulder for themselves.

ELLIE TALBURTT: I'm Ellie Talburtt.

ROGER DICKEY: And I'm Roger Dickey, Ellie's son.

TALBURTT: And we took a trip last August to Lake Superior to Isle Royale to try to find Moose Boulder.

DICKEY: To get to Isle Royale, we took a seaplane from Houghton, Mich.

TALBURTT: It was amazing to take this trip with my son.

DICKEY: We had to carry a canoe overland from this drop-off point and canoe into this inner lake.

TALBURTT: The trees and the foliage was so thick that you could barely push past it without it tearing your clothes.

DICKEY: We hiked in as far as we could to try to find the center of the island, was unable to find Moose Flats or Moose Boulder. Who knows; it could have been there, but highly unlikely.

CHANG: Atlas Obscura posted this whole story about Dickey and Talburtt's findings this week.

TAUB: Since we have published the story, we've heard from a reader who claims that Moose Boulder does, in fact, exist and that when the park reopens this summer, they're going to go out there and take pictures and send it back to us to prove. And, you know, that would be awesome.

SHAPIRO: If you want to hunt for the elusive Moose Boulder yourself, you'll have to wait till mid-April, when the park opens again. By the way, Isle Royale is one of the least-visited national parks, so it's perfect for social distancing.


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