Sturgeon Bay


One hundred years ago, maritime navigation was treacherous and the shipping industry was unregulated so catastrophes were relatively common. Each shipwreck along the Schooner Coast conveys its own gripping tale.

Along Hwy. 42, Mariners Trail, Manitowoc

A marker along the Mariners Trail tells the story of the Francis Hinton. She was built in Manitowoc in 1889 for the Lake Michigan lumber trade. On the morning of Nov. 16, 1909, the Francis Hinton was carrying a full load of Norway pine from Manistique, Mich., to Chicago. Working her way through the heavy seas of a Lake Michigan gale, she began taking on water. Captain Campbell and his eleven-man crew took to a small boat and skillfully maneuvered through the breakers, while hundreds of people watched from shore. 

Rogers Street Fishing Village, 2010 Rogers St., Two Rivers

On October 29, 1887, the steamer Vernon sank near Two Rivers in a violent storm with an estimated 40-50 passengers and crew on board. There was just one survivor. On October 31, Axel Stone, a 23-year old immigrant from Sweden, who had been a watchman aboard the Vernon, was found floating on a life raft near Sheboygan. Stone claimed the steamer's captain had overloaded the ship, leaving her dangerously susceptible to flooding – the likely cause of her sinking. 

Rogers Street Fishing Village, 2010 Rogers St., Two Rivers

The Rouse Simmons, also known as the Christmas Tree Ship, was a three-masted schooner famous for having sunk in a violent storm on Lake Michigan in 1912. The ship was bound for Chicago with a cargo of Christmas trees when it foundered off the coast of Two Rivers. It was one of many schooners to transport Christmas trees across the lake. However, with railroads and highways proving much more economical, the tree-shipping industry was over by 1920.

Algoma Marina, From Hwy. 42, turn east on Navarino St., follow to Steele St.

A marker commemorates the sinking of the three-masted, 173-foot schooner Daniel Lyons. On October 17, 1878, the schooner departed Chicago with wheat bound for New York. Near Algoma, the schooner Kate Gillett hit the Daniel Lyons, cutting her nearly in two. The two vessels remained locked together for 15 minutes while the Daniel Lyons’ crew scrambled aboard the Kate Gillett. Leaking badly, the crew of both vessels worked the pumps furiously to keep her afloat. The Kate Gillett arrived safely in Chicago a day and a half after the collision. 

Algoma Marina, From Hwy. 42, turn east on Navarino St., follow to Steele St.

The Lady Ellen was a 42-ton, two-masted scow schooner that was built in Ahnapee (now Algoma). She spent much of her career carrying commodities and goods to and from the town. Eventually, the Lady Ellen outlived her usefulness and was abandoned in the Ahnapee River in 1907. Today, her lower hull remains where she was abandoned and protrudes from the water when the river is low.


Sunset Park, 747 N. 3rd Ave., Sturgeon Bay

The wreckage of the steam barge Joys, a vessel once hailed as a “greyhound among lumber carriers,” rests 150 yards from the shore. The Joys was constructed in 1884 at the Milwaukee Ship Yard Company. She diligently hauled lumber, iron and stone through the Sturgeon Bay ship canal. Unfortunately on Dec. 23, 1898 while at anchor in the canal, a fire broke out and the steam barge sank.

Oak Leaf, Empire State and Ida Corning

Bullhead Point Park, 950 N. Duluth Ave., Sturgeon Bay

In 1931, the Oak Leaf, Empire State and Ida Corning were deemed abandoned and were burned to the waterline. Their hulls lie just offshore from the point and remain visible at low water.


Please visit the Wisconsin Maritime Museum & the Door County Maritime Museum

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