Learn Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal History at Historical Society Program

During the Door County Historical Society’s Sept. 27 program at Heritage Village at Big Creek, Captain Bob Desh will explore the creation of the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal.

The Ship Canal was an 18-year long and arduous process beginning with a Wisconsin charter in 1864, the first dirt scooped in 1872, the meeting of Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan waters in 1878, then open to light and low draft vessels in 1880 and completion in 1882. The seven-mile long canal was created in part by dredging Sturgeon Bay and the balance by digging the last 1.3 miles.

Desh will demonstrate that the digging of the Canal is undoubtedly one of the most important events in the history of the Door Peninsula. The brainchild of Joseph Harris, Sr., the historic Ship Canal has shaped the economy and personality of the region since its completion in the 1880s. In addition to economic growth, the Canal made an indelible mark on maritime history in that it spawned lighthouses, lifesaving stations and the Peninsula’s remarkable shipbuilding heritage.

Bob Desh

Bob Desh

Desh is the former Executive Director of the Door County Maritime Museum. Prior to joining the museum, Bob served more than 36 years with the United States Coast Guard. A long-time maritime and Coast Guard history buff, Desh is the former Executive Director of the Foundation for Coast Guard History and presently serves on the organization’s Board of Regents.

The program will be held on Sept. 27 at 2 pm in the Collins Center, 2041 Michigan St. in Sturgeon Bay. This program does not have an admission fee, but a freewill offering will be taken to support the Heritage Village at Big Creek. For more information, call 920.421.2332 or email [email protected].


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