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North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum Journal

The Silver Cliff Billy Goat ...A North Shore History Just for Children (ages 4 to 100)

Once Upon a time back in the dim, dark past, probably in the mid-50s, a family of goats lived on the Silver Creek Cliff. The mama & daddy goats (Nanny and Billy) were escapees from a farm a mile and half away. They liked being free and independent, taking care of themselves. In the spring, a baby goat arrived.

One day, commercial fisherman Orville Rise (he pronounced it Reese) was out in his boat picking his nets when he noticed a little goat on a ledge, halfway up the bluff.  As soon as he completed his work of fishing that day. Orville hunted down his longtime friend, Jim Anderson, who lived near him.

"Jim, you have to help me. We have to rescue that baby goat," Orville said. Jim agreed but, being of a more practical mind, he quickly asked, "How on earth can we do that?"

"Well," Orville said, "I have a piece of rope in my boat and I'll tie that around my waist and you can lower me down the cliff." Jim was very skeptical but Orville insisted. Jim protested that the was not strong enough, so Orville agreed to double it.

So the project proceeded. Orville tied the rope around himself and started down. Jim stayed at the top hanging on to the rope. Soon all the rope was played out.

Jim called down to Orville, "There's no more rope."

Orville replied, "Well, wait a minute and I'll single it." Then Orville was hanging at the end of a single strand of old rotten net line. Jim couldn't see him any more but he could feel him flailing around trying to hit the small ledge where the baby goat was lying.

At last, Orville called, "I've got 'im," and then he was climbing back up the cliff with the baby goat under one arm. Back on the flat solid ground at the top of the cliff, they examined the little goat. It was indeed a new baby with its umbilical cord still attached. It seemed very weak and it was shivering with cold. Now what were they to do? They headed for Alice's Tavern located on the beach at the base of Silver Cliff, operated by Alice Hendrickson.

Alice had a heater going and they gently laid the little goat next to it. He quickly warmed up and revived. Alice immediately warmed some mild and put it in a rubber glove. The baby accepted this substitute mother. Alice had a dog who came over to inspect the new arrival. When the dog sniffed at the little animal, the little goat had the strength to stand up and give him a butt with his head.

Alice named the all-white baby 'Rocky.' She built him a pen and he became a permanent member of her household for many years. And they all lived happily every after!

In truth, the goats on Silver Creek Cliff lived there for about 4 years. They wandered around the area grazing for food. Then the doe and that year's kid were killed by a bobcat. A Lake County sheriff felt the most humane thing to do was to shoot the lonesome buck, and so the saga of the Silver Creek goats ended.

Orville Rise was never one to be timid. The story is told that he and a group of men one spring took off across the frozen lake on their snowmobiles, heading for Wisconsin. Suddenly, they realized that the icebreaker Mackinaw was heading down the Lake in their immediate path, opening a channel for an ore boat. They paused until the big boats had gone by, then gunned their engines and jumped over the open water.

In spite of many such daredevil escapades and close brushes out on the Lake, Orville survived. We know this because he continued to hold a license as a commercial fisherman through 1990, fishing out of Beaver Bay and Two Harbors. Other licensed fishermen named Rise were Otto and Sevold Rise, who fished between 1943 and 1951 and probably before 1943, and Leif Rise, who fished in 1949 and from 1958 to 1961. It seems likely they were relatives. Orville and Jenny had children. If anyone has additional information about the Rise family, we'd very much like to hear from you.

North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum Journal

Volume 12     Winter '04     Issue 4


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