Historical Markers in
Door County, Wisconsin

110-114 North 3rd Avenue 41-Foot Utility Boat Large (UTB) 8064 Hwy. 57 8068 Hwy. 57 A Fortunate Mix A Road Less Traveled A State Park System is Formed After the Fire: The Vandermissen Brickworks Site Air Funnel Air Funnel Anchor Anchor Anchor & Capstan Ancient Shorelines Anderson Dock Architecture and History in the WIS 57 Project Area August Zahn Residence Baileys Harbor Lower Range Light Baileys Harbor Town Marina Belgian Settlement in Wisconsin Bradley Crandall Sawmill Site Buoy and Sinker Capstans Captain John Roen Cupola House Door County's Stone Fleet Dunlap Reef Light Tower Eagle Bluff Lighthouse Eastern Terminus Ice Age National Scenic Trail Egg Harbor Ellison Bay Ellsworth L. Peterson Erskine Root Cellar First Permanent Colony in Door County Fish Tug Linda E Fred J. Peterson George J. Baudhuin Halfway to the North Pole Halfway to the North Pole Hay Hardware Historic Euroamerican Settlement of the Door Peninsula Historic Museum Tug John Purves Historic Sturgeon Bay Howard A & Lou E Olson Island Paradise Jacksonport United Methodist Church Joseph Harris, Sr. Karl Overland Karl Overland Leathem and Smith Quarry Life on the Ledge Lost Great Lakes Mariners Masonic Temple Merchants Exchange Bank Namur and the Norbertine Fathers: Community, Education, and Religion among Belgian-Americans Nature of Sister Bay Niagara Escarpment Oak Leaf Anchor Pilot Island Site Portage Park Privilege in the Park Propeller and Shaft Propeller and Stirrup Bearing Propellers from the tug John Purves Public Library Reynolds' Pier Robert E. Peterson Robert Laurie and Alexander Laurie Rudder from the "City of Glasgow" Schooner Christina Nilsson Schooner Rudder Scow Schooner Ocean Wave Semper Paratus Ship Propellers Ship's Double Wheel Shorelines and Sedge Meadows St. Michael the Archangel Steam Barge Joys Steam Engine Steamer Frank O'Connor Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan Ship Canal Sturgeon Bay Bridge Sturgeon Bay's Waterfront History Sturgeon Bay's Waterfront History Sturgeon Bay's Waterfront History Sturgeon Bay's Waterfront History Sturgeon Bay's Waterfront History Sturgeon Bay's Waterfront History The WIS 57 Reconstruction Project in Brown, Kewaunee, and Door Counties The Alexander Noble House The Brussels Cemetery Grotto The Clearing The Episcopal Church of the Holy Nativity The Fire of 1871 and Williamsonville: A 19th Century Euroamerican Settlement in Door County The Fishtug Skipper The Fluke Anchor The Hotz Estate The Niagara Escarpment The Old Bridge The Orchards of Door County The Skipper The Thorp Cabin Town of Jacksonport Town of Liberty Grove Town of Sevastopol Transportation Archaeology on the WIS 57 Project Village of Sister Bay War Memorial Well Site Why Green Bay? Windlass & Associated Equipment Wisconsin State Rock Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church "The Old Rugged Cross" ‘Old Bell’ Tower
Wisconsin was the first state in the United States to provide workers' compensation for injured workers, in 1911.
Door County, Wisconsin, located on a beautiful peninsula jutting out into Lake Michigan, has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The area was originally inhabited by the Potawatomi and Menominee Native American tribes, who relied on the waters and forests for their sustenance. European explorers first arrived in the late 17th century, with the French claiming the region as part of New France.

In the early 19th century, the United States gained control of the area through the Treaty of Chicago. The first permanent European settlers arrived in the 1830s, drawn to the fertile soil and abundant fish and wildlife. Settlements quickly sprang up along the coast, with fishing, farming, and shipbuilding becoming key industries. The name "Door County" is believed to have originated from the treacherous passage between the peninsula and Washington Island, known as "Death's Door," due to the numerous shipwrecks that occurred there.

By the late 1800s, Door County had become a popular vacation destination due to its natural beauty and cool summer climate. Wealthy Chicago and Milwaukee residents built summer cottages along the coast, many of which still stand today as charming bed and breakfasts or historic sites. The tourism industry flourished, fueled by the picturesque landscapes, charming villages, and the opportunity to enjoy water-based activities such as boating, fishing, and swimming.

Over the years, Door County has continued to evolve while preserving its natural, small-town charm. The region has become known for its thriving arts community, with numerous galleries, theaters, and festivals celebrating local talent. Today, Door County is a popular year-round destination, known for its stunning landscapes, vibrant cultural scene, and warm hospitality. Whether visitors come for the beautiful scenery, outdoor activities, or to experience its rich history firsthand, Door County offers something for everyone.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Door County, Wisconsin.

  • 1634: French explorer Jean Nicolet is the first known European to explore Door County.
  • 1781: British fur trader John Lawe establishes a trading post on Washington Island.
  • 1817: The United States establishes a fort on Washington Island to protect its interests in the fur trade.
  • 1836: Door County is created as a separate county in the Wisconsin Territory.
  • 1853: The first permanent settlers establish homes in the county, including Hagen and Jacobsen families.
  • 1857: The first lighthouse on the Great Lakes is built on Rock Island, marking the entrance to Death's Door passage.
  • 1870s: Tourism begins to develop in Door County, with vacationers attracted to the natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities.
  • 1893: The Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal is completed, improving shipping access to the county.
  • Early 1900s: Cherry orchards become a major industry in Door County, with the area becoming known as the "Cherryland USA."
  • 1949: The Door County Maritime Museum opens in Sturgeon Bay, celebrating the county's rich maritime history.
  • 1965: The Door County Historical Museum opens in Sturgeon Bay, preserving and showcasing the county's history.
  • 1986: Peninsula State Park is named one of the top 10 state parks in the nation by Money Magazine, further boosting tourism in the area.
  • 2000s: Door County continues to thrive as a popular tourist destination, known for its charming small towns, picturesque landscapes, and cultural attractions.