Door County: From A to Z!
This month's feature: L and M
By Donna Marie Pocius
Special to DoorCountyNavigator.com
The "Door County: From A to Z" series continues this month with more ideas for enjoying the Peninsula. It's summer and time to enjoy Door County's lake and maritime heritage (AKA "L" and "M" topics).
Lake Michigan: Door County sits on a peninsula. So, it's important we acknowledge that great surrounding body of water, Lake Michigan, one of the five great lakes of North America). Lake Michigan is shared by Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. It has a surface area of 22,300 square miles, making it the largest freshwater lake in the U.S. and the fifth largest lake in the world, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The DNR calls it a "working lake" as it is critical to the state's economy. Many industries came to Lake Michigan's shores because of the ability it afforded to transport goods.
In Door County, Lake Michigan affords vacationers with abundant recreational opportunities. From watching a sunrise over the lake in Jacksonport to seeing a sunset on the Green Bay waters side (Green Bay is the lake's largest bay), you'll find many diversions.
Visit beaches like the beach in Whitefish Dunes State Park; it stretches across Lake Michigan. Or head to the Green Bay side to work on your tan at beaches in Fish Creek downtown, Egg Harbor (at Murphy Park) and Ephraim Beach.
Rent a boat at the Sister Bay Marina and get on Lake Michigan waters to see Door County from the water. You can also partake in charter fishing excursions from Baileys Harbor, Gills Rock, Sturgeon Bay and other locations. Find Panfish, Largermouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Walleye.
And, because of the lake, you just can't get lost in Door County. As one local business person pointed out, "you walk until your hat floats."
Maritime: Door County has a rich maritime history. This is evidenced by lighthouses, fishing opportunities and shipbuilding companies that continue to be a vital force today.
Perhaps the best way to experience the maritime flavor of Door County is to visit a lighthouse or the Door County Maritime Museum. The Door County Maritime Museum actually offers three museum locations: in Sturgeon Bay, north of Baileys Harbor in the Cana Island Lighthouse, and in Gills Rock.
The Door County Maritime Museum main site in Sturgeon Bay has four expansive galleries that feature lighthouses, model ships and boats, shipwrecks, the area's shipbuilding companies and more, according to the museum's Web site.
The museum opened earlier this spring a "Sea Dogs" exhibition to explore the role dogs play in maritime history. Another current feature is an in-water exhibit of a tugboat that was built in 1919 and served to early 2000.
Head to Cana Island Lighthouse, which was built in 1869. It's located on an island, just north of Baileys Harbor. You can actually walk to it as the lake there has a dry bottom. Climb 97 steps up the light's tower, tour the keeper's home and explore the grounds.
And in Gills Rock, the Door County Maritime Museum location shows a wood fishing shanty, the fishing tug, "Hope" and exhibits on ice fishing, shipwrecks, maritime life-saving techniques and more. A special exhibit tells the story of Dan Seavey, a Great Lakes pirate.