Explore & Experience Door County & Sturgeon Bay’s Rich History

Door County and Sturgeon Bay specifically, are filled with history that helped build what the area is today and continues to influence daily life. From the maritime history of Sturgeon Bay to the rich agricultural history throughout the Peninsula, there are plenty of places to explore and experience Sturgeon Bay’s local history.

Door County’s Rich Maritime History

The Great Lakes has a rich maritime history that is preserved right here in Sturgeon Bay at The Door County Maritime Museum. The museum has a location along the working waterfront in Sturgeon Bay as well as several other locations around Door County. The exhibits and educational opportunities shouldn’t be missed!

There are several historic lighthouses around Door County, with a couple right here in Sturgeon Bay, that are impressive sites to see. The Sherwood Point Lighthouse is the last manned lighthouse on the Great Lakes. It was established in 1883 and automated in 1983. It is open to the public during the Lighthouse walk in June. The Sturgeon Bay Pierhead Light is the bright red iconic marker of maritime history. Head out for a walk to the end of the breakwater for a closer look. The Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Light was built in 1899. It is located on the northern bank of the entrance to the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal, and is open to the public during the Lighthouse Walk.

Sturgeon Bay Maritime Museum

Door County History: Settlement Onward

Exhibits telling the story of Door County, including the settlement of the peninsula, development of communities, and its natural wonders can be found at the Door County Historical Museum. If you want to experience history in an interactive, interpretive setting the Door County Historical Society’s Eagle Bluff Lighthouse Museum in Peninsula State Park and the Heritage Village at Big Creek in Sturgeon Bay should be on your list of stops. The historical society is dedicated to keeping history alive through the collection, preservation and sharing of Door County’s heritage.

Historic Landmarks Note Historically Significant Sites

There are several historic landmarks right here in Sturgeon Bay to add to your list of stops. Sturgeon Bay is steeped in maritime history, which can be seen in the heart of Sturgeon Bay along the shipping canal. The canal, which was built in 1882, connects Lake Michigan to the Green Bay and changed Great Lakes shipping with its construction.

North of Sturgeon Bay is The Farm, a living museum of rural Wisconsin with hands-on experiences, historical exhibits and nature trails. And just south of Sturgeon Bay nestled in a small wayside park is a historical marker in Tornado Park. The park memorializes Door County’s Peshtigo Fire of 1871.

barn in sturgeon bay