Tour Restored 1919 Tug John Purves For Look Into Great Lakes Past

If you or your guests have not toured one of the largest tugboats on the Great Lakes, now is the time and the Door County Maritime Museum is the place. Visitors can enjoy an all-access, 40-minute guided tour of the tug John Purves, a restored 1919 Great Lakes tugboat. The tour includes exploring the entire 149-foot tug, from her engine room to crew cabins, galley and wheelhouse and getting a feel for the daily life of her hard-working, 13-man crew.

John Purves is permanently docked at the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay, just outside the museum doors. She’s sailed everywhere from the Great Lakes to the Caribbean to the Bering Sea. She had at least 10 different action-packed careers, including rescuing ships and serving in World War II. The tug began her long career serving as a floating radio station for the U.S. Navy in the Caribbean. Later, she worked towing barges of pulpwood on Lake Superior and then served in WWII as a supply boat to Army garrisons in the Aleutian Islands.

In December 1956, Roen Steamship Company of Sturgeon Bay purchased the tug John Purves and put her to work on all five Great Lakes taking on towing and salvage jobs. In 2003, she was donated to the Door County Maritime Museum and sports the crisp colors of the Roen Steamship Company once again.

Admission is $13 and includes the museum’s galleries, plus a guided tour of tug John Purves. Youth admission (5-17) is only $10. For safety, children must be at least 4 years old and 38” tall to tour the John Purves. Visit the tug John Purves and the Door County Maritime Museum at 120 N Madison Ave. Tours are available daily from 10 am to 3:30 pm, May 1 through Oct. 29. For more information visit

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