Door County Maritime Museum – a Field Trip of History

Historical Field Trip of Door County

Door County Maritime Museum has a lot of historical history for the area. Before automobiles people used water ways to travel and move goods. The waterways of Door County played a significant role in the development of the local and inter-state commerce and culture. The waterways were often quite treacherous and as a result required the construction of lighthouses. There are many shipwrecks around the Door Peninsula. What I found very interesting was around Wisconsin there are 700 shipwrecks alone. I never realized that the Great Lakes are even more treacherous then the ocean.

Sturgeon Bay is known for its shipbuilding. Lot of ships come and go for the canal. There are new ones and ones that come in to be repaired in winter. To this day it still exists. We also have Palmer Johnson which is known for it’s yachts. Inside the museum there are many mini replicas of different ships and how they were built. Just to name a few there are torpedo chasers, tankers, fishing boats, military, and ferry’s. I am sure I am missing some but that is all I could remember at the top of my head.

Women Shipyard Workers


There was a video that talked about women working in the shipyard. They worked in the shipyard during World War 2. There was a lack of men from being in the war that they needed someone to continue to work to build and repair things.

Japanese Ship


This is a Japanese ship of some sorts. I didn’t get time to read the little label by it and what it was all about. I thought it was interesting in the way it looked.

Viking Ship


This was a mini replica of a Viking ship. Again I didn’t get to read the little label. I am not sure what significance these two ships have with the Great Lakes or even Door County for that matter. I thought they were really interesting though.

From Engine Room

We toured the engine room. We saw all the different engines both big and small. We also saw the different controls for the engine room. Which they really did change over time.


There is also a periscope from a submarine that you can look through. The neatest thing about this is that you can see all over town. You can turn it in circles and adjust the range depth to see. My son really enjoyed looking through this. We watched cars cross the bridge and we could see the tree lines. It was gorgeous. This would be neat for tourists that come and visit. We get a lot of tourists in Door County.

The Tug John Pruves

The tug John Purves is renovated. It was built it in 1919. There is a 40 minute tour of the tug, however we couldn’t tour it because they do it during  peak times of tourist season. It was fine with me because I don’t like being on boats. This is a historical boat that played a role during World War 2. Not exactly sure of all the history.

Now on to my sons favorite part of the museum. They had the final days of the Pirate Exhibit. There were little boxes that you had to guess the smell. It could be of rum, diesel, salty ocean air, and I forget what the last one was. You could also dress up as a pirate. There was also a pirate ship that you could steer the wheel, fire cannons at ships, ring the bell, and just wander through.

Black Beard Flag Ship


The above picture was one of the layouts of Blackbeard’s Flagship and Queen Anne’s Revenge Shipwreck Site. I am not exactly sure where the shipwreck is. I got rushed towards the end.

Pirate Treasure

These were actual artifacts found from the pirate shipwreck. I though they were really interesting.

Pirates Fate

The above picture is the Pirate’s fate! Let’s just leave it at that!

Spanish Treasures


This above is all from the Spaniards. I believe this was treasure or bounty. It was really neat to see the different jewels and the coins. the coins were odd and different shapes. I found that to be kind of fascinating.

Sundial Compass


This was an exciting part of the trip as we have been studying different maps and map tools in geography class. If you look close you can see a sundial compass. I was hoping to find some older navigation or maps through the museum but I didn’t see any. I made sure to point it out to Dakota. I love when you can see actual history and have a visual.


There was also a plaque awarded to our Coast Guard this year by the Governor. Sturgeon Bay has been made home to the Coast Guard. We have had them come out to Girl Scout meetings and we want to take a tour of the canal at some point. There is even a Coast Guard ship that sits in the canal. I believe it deals with customs.  It’s nice for them to be able to call Sturgeon Bay home as many Coast Guard and their families lives there. They play an important role as well.

I have a ton more pictures but these are the ones that turned out the best. Not the greatest pictures with my iphone for some reason. We had a great time together! Glad we went when we did as this was the last weekend of the exhibit. Looking forward to the next new exhibit they have. I also was told that they were building a replica of the light house where you can go up into this light house and see all over town. Which will be neat to see. There are also two more Maritime Museums in Door County we plan to visit.


20 Responses to “Door County Maritime Museum – a Field Trip of History”

  • 1
    Fi Ní Neachtáin says:

    Such a great looking museum. I live on an island with a rich maritime history but we don’t have a museum like this, only two about the Titanic. The Pirate’s Fate looks interesting, great picture opportunity! I’d love looking at the maps too, I always loved geography 🙂

    admin Reply:

    I would love to see a museum about the Titanic. I think that would be so fascinating. My pictures were so not good so I couldn’t share everything I wanted. I too like geography and it was awesome that we saw a piece from history with the sundial compass.

  • 2
    Natalie says:

    What a fun museum! I dated a guy in college who was from Wisconsin, and he used to tell me about the crazy storms that often come up on the Great Lakes. Before meeting him, I never would have thought that there could be shipwrecks on a lake! I would have loved to look around this museum–I live on the water (the Atlantic Ocean), and I love learning about maritime customs in other parts of the world!
    Natalie´s last blog post ..What to Consider When Planning a Multi-Generational Trip

    admin Reply:

    Yes we do have some crazy storms. I live a couple blocks from the lake and you can tell when there are gale warnings as you can actually hear the waves. I never thought the Great Lakes could be harsher then the ocean but they are. I have never been to the ocean before. I would love to see it. I love exploring and learning about history.

  • 3

    Museums usually aren’t my thing, but this one looks like such a great time! Lots of cool things to see. Love the “Pirate’s Fate” picture. Lol, too funny.

    admin Reply:

    There was a few hands on things that made it fun for my son. I would have loved to see the boat tour as I love seeing history but it was closed for the season.

  • 4
    MJ says:

    Now this is a great post. I am a big fan of museums. My favorite museum in my hometown if NYC is the Intrepid Air, Sea & Land Museum. It is amazing to see all the old planes and now the space shuttle. I love that the museum you visited had lots of interactive components and the replica ships are amazing. SO much detail.
    MJ´s last blog post ..2014 Year In Review: My Favorite Posts

    admin Reply:

    I will have to remember that museum in NYC if we ever get there. My favorite was going to the Smithsonian in Washington DC when I was a kid. The museums in Chicago are my next favorites.

  • 5
    rochkirstin says:

    The Japanese ship looked well made with intricate details. Visiting a museum such as this is really great for the family. The artifacs from the shipwreck must be preserved in certain temperature, right? Else they might be more damaged through the years.
    rochkirstin´s last blog post ..Review of Bangs Prime Salon by Tony and Jackey – Hair Color Coco (SM Mall of Asia)

    admin Reply:

    I am not sure if they have to be stored a certain temperature or not. I think the only real thing that weren’t replicas was the stuff inside that was actual pirate artifacts. The jewels and coins I believe that were in the red were replicas. We get to see pieces of wood and bells and things that came from the ships. There are still many shipwrecks at the bottom of the lake yet. In fact we have one that is 8 miles out from Algoma in the water. It was the Christmas Tree Ship.

  • 6

    Cool! That looks like the kind of museum we’d need to visit more than once, in order to take everything in. 🙂
    Shecki @ Greatly Blessed´s last blog post ..Masterpiece Marriage book review and Kindle Fire #giveaway

    admin Reply:

    Yes definitely! I need to go back with out kids so I can read everything.

  • 7
    Krystal says:

    My husband could probably spend ages in that place! I used to work in a museum, and it was so much fun to watch them change out the collections. People also would get so excited when new things came in. The details in the ships here is so cool!
    Krystal´s last blog post ..Cranberry Pomegranate Champagne Spritzer

    admin Reply:

    The pirate exhibit has been here for 2 years. My son seen it once before when it first came to town. I am excited to see the next exhibit. I think they are calling it Sea Dogs. There are two more maritime museums that we are going to check out that are in Door County. There is a lot of fishing that goes on and I think if I heard the lady right that parts of shipwrecks are in the museum in Gills Rock.

  • 8

    I did not know that in many ways the Great Lakes were more treacherous then the oceans.

    I like the fact the during wartime, in almost every country, the women are there to take the place in building and supplying the goods needed to keep their men going.

    I love your pictures of your family having a great time together while learning about useful information.
    Joyful Gifts by Julie´s last blog post ..Countdown to 2015 Giveaway Event!

    admin Reply:

    I really liked the fact that they mentioned the women stepping up during war time. In fact I never really knew that. I guess I didn’t pay attention when I was in school and now I feel like I am learning things all over again.

  • 9

    This looks like a great place to go for an afternoon! It would have been nice if you had some time to read the little signs, which would have translated to more info for me (haha I’m so nosey) but I hear ya- Moms never really get to do *everything* when kids are in tow, do they? lol I think the last festival of lights we went to, I got to look at maybe half a dozen things and spent the rest of the evening tracking children instead of eyeing twinkling lol
    I love these types of exhibits. It’s really cool to see how things have developed over the years and to put yourself in the shoes of someone else for a while. I’ve never been on a ship so some of these exhibits would have given me a glimpse into that.

    Great post!!
    Alysia from My Domestic Dish´s last blog post ..Flex Belt, the laziest workout ever

    admin Reply:

    I do love to put myself in someone else’s shoes and wonder what they went through and experienced so long ago. I don’t think I like getting on boats to much. Always afraid of falling overboard. It was really neat to see what was inside. There was so much reading at this museum.

  • 10

    This looks like a great museum to visit and I love how you explained how lighthouses came about. I never knew that. More so, I love how they displayed the women who stepped up and took care of things when the men went to war and they still maintained their homes, too. Love that. We are def. Army tough. LOL!
    Notorious Spinks´s last blog post ..Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Creatives #GiftSmart

    admin Reply:

    I forgot to tell the story about the ghost of one of the light houses. That was really interesting as well. I loved the signs that they had from that time period hanging that promoted women stepping up to help during the war time. They were definitely army tough!

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