Tugboat “John Purves” Open for Tours

The Door County Maritime Museum & Lighthouse Preservation Society (DCMM) officially opened the tug John Purves for public tours on Monday, August 4. The docent-led tours will be conducted five days a week, Friday through Tuesday, allowing for mid-week cleaning and continued restoration work.

Built at Elizabeth, NJ in 1919, the Purves was christened the Butterfield. After spending only five years as an ocean service vessel, the Butterfield was brought to the Great Lakes in 1924 by the Newago Tug Line. By 1956, the Butterfield had changed hands once again and became part of the fleet of the Roen Steamship Company of Sturgeon Bay and was promptly renamed the John Purves after the general manager of Roen.

Through an amazing five-year all-volunteer effort, the 149-foot tug has been returned to nearly pristine condition. The interior of the vessel represents the Purves as she would have looked in the mid-1950s. Visitors will get a chance to step down into the engine room and walk between the two, mammoth diesel engines that powered this workhorse of the Great Lakes. The crew quarters, galley, as well as the officers’ rooms are included in the tour. It all literally leads up to the pilot house.

Due to some tight quarters aboard the vessel, tour groups will be limited to no more than 10 people and height restrictions apply. Initially, tours will begin each day at 10 am and leave every 45 minutes. Cost of the tours is $5.

For more information call 920.743.5958 or visit