Paul Burton Releases “From Trails to Rails”

How did immigrant settlers of Door County get around before there were roads and motorized vehicles? A new book by Paul Burton, From Trails to Rails is an illustrated introduction to how travel evolved on the peninsula.

A few early settlers had the foresight to bring along a small amount of money to help them buy, usually on credit, a small piece of land. Others purchased a few bags of garden and crop seeds in Green Bay before landing in Door County to establish their little farms. Much of the land was a government-owned wilderness, available to settlers for about $1.25 an acre.

In time, settlers bought or bartered for horses or oxen to help on their farms, and with a bit of success they invested in a wagon and buggy. Roads were still primitive, but much improved over a logging trail. In the late 1800s, a railroad was established between Sturgeon Bay and Algoma and Kewaunee, with connections to Milwaukee and Chicago. The Ahnapee & Western contributed greatly to the early economic growth of the county.

From Trails to Rails covers land travel in Door County from about 1850 to 1950 and includes narratives and over a hundred historic images.

The book was written in behalf of the Ephraim Historical Foundation; copies are $12 at its museums. It is also available at the Peninsula Bookman in Fish Creek. All proceeds go to the foundation to further its work in historic preservation.