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The anadromous leviathans for which Door County’s gateway community is named once crowded the harbor waters in such plenitude that ships would literally run aground atop heaps of them.
Whether or not Sturgeon Bay is properly the heart and soul of the county, it lies at a most strategic location: It was used for eons by Native Americans as a portage point. When the 6,600-foot-long canal was blasted, chiseled, hacked, and dug through to link the bay with Lake Michigan, the town of Sturgeon Bay was set. Besides the shipbuilding, most of the county’s cherries are processed here.
More: The genuine graciousness of the folks is palpable. Sturgeon Bay was voted Wisconsin’s Friendliest Small Town by those who really know—the readers of Wisconsin Trails magazine. Some jaded and wearied city dwellers are made uneasy by these folks, who once pumped gas for this exhausted traveler while he rested in front of the station because he simply looked bushed.
Getting to Sturgeon Bay
Door County well represents the American antipathy toward public transportation. Hoi polloi disembarking from a Greyhound evidently doesn’t fit well in a Cape Cod sunset postcard scene. There are no buses, no trains, and no ferries from points south. (Technically, one entrepreneur has floated a proposal to run a passenger-only ferry to Menominee in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula from here.) Sounds great? Wait till you see the traffic.
Very small and very limited air shuttles from Chicago to Sturgeon Bay have occasionally popped up, but your real choice is to fly into Green Bay and rent a car or take the Door County–Green Bay Shuttle (920/746-0500, reservations necessary).
© Thomas Huhti from Moon Wisconsin, 5th Edition