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Door County, Wisconsin
Map of Wisconsin highlighting Door County
Location in the state of Wisconsin
Map of USA WI
Wisconsin's location in the U.S.
Founded 1851
Seat Sturgeon Bay
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

2,370 sq mi (6,138 km²)
482.72 sq mi (1,250 km²)
1,887 sq mi (4,888 km²),
 - (2000)
 - Density

57.92/sq mi (22/km²)
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
NiagaraEscarpmentOutcroppings LakeMichiganShore

Outcroppings at Newport State Park approximately 10 feet from Lake Michigan.

Door County is a county located in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. As of 2000, the population was 27,961. Its county seat is Sturgeon Bay. Door County is a popular vacation and tourist destination, especially for residents of south-eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

The county is named after the strait between the Door Peninsula and Washington Island. The dangerous passage, now littered with shipwrecks, was known to early French explorers and local Native Americans. Because of the natural hazards of the strait, they gave it the French appellation Porte des Morts Passage, which in English means the "Door to the Way to Death," or simply, "Death's Door."


The county has a total area of 6,138 km² (2,370 sq mi). 1,250 km² (483 sq mi) of it is land and 4,888 km² (1,887 sq mi) of it (79.63%) is water. The county also has more than 300 miles of shoreline, more than any other in the country. The county covers the majority of the Door Peninsula. With the completion of the Sturgeon Bay Shipping Canal in 1881, the northern half of the peninsula, in actuality, became an island.

Limestone outcroppings, part of the Niagara Escarpment, are visible on both shores of the peninsula, but are larger and more prominent on the Green Bay side. Progressions of dunes have created much of the rest of the shoreline, especially on the easterly side. Flora along the shore provides clear evidence of plant succession. The middle of the peninsula is mostly flat or rolling cultivated land. Soils overlaying the dolomite bedrock are very thin in the northern half of the county; 39% of the County is mapped as having less than three feet to bedrock. Beyond the northern tip of the peninsula, the partially submerged ridge forms a number of islands that stretch to the Garden Peninsula in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The largest of these islands is Washington Island. Most of these islands form the Town of Washington.


The Door County peninsula has been inhabited for about 11,000 years. Artifacts from an ancient village site at Nicolet Bay Beach have been dated to about 400 BC. This site was occupied by various cultures until about 1300 AD.

The 1700-1800s saw the immigration and settlement of pioneers, mariners, fishermen and farmers. Economic sustenance came from lumbering and tourism.

During the 1800s, various groups of Native Americans occupied the area that would become Door County and its islands. Beginning in mid-century, these Indians, mostly Potawatomi, were removed from the peninsula by the federal government under the Indian Removal Act of 1830.

A Civilian Conservation Corps camp was established at Peninsula State Park during the Great Depression. In the summer of 1945, Fish Creek was the site of a German POW camp. The prisoners did construction projects, cut wood, and picked cherries in Peninsula State Park and the surrounding area. Eagle Bluff Lighthouse was constructed in Peninsula State Park in 1868 on orders from President Andrew Johnson, at a cost of $12,000, and was restored by the Door County Historical Society in 1964, and opened to the public.


USA Door County, Wisconsin age pyramid

2000 Census Age Pyramid for Door County.

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1900 17,583
1910 18,711 6.4%
1920 19,073 1.9%
1930 18,182 −4.7%
1940 19,095 5.0%
1950 20,870 9.3%
1960 20,685 −0.9%
1970 20,106 −2.8%
1980 25,029 24.5%
1990 25,690 2.6%
2000 27,961 8.8%
WI Counties 1900-1990

As of the census² of 2000, there were 27,961 people, 11,828 households, and 7,995 families residing in the county. The population density was 22/km² (58/sq mi). There were 19,587 housing units at an average density of 16/km² (41/sq mi). The racial makeup of the county was 97.84% White, 0.19% Black or African American, 0.65% Native American, 0.29% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.33% from other races, and 0.69% from two or more races. 0.95% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 39.4% were of German and 10.3% Belgian ancestry according to Census 2000. A small pocket of Walloon speakers is the only Walloon-language region outside of Wallonia and its immediate neighborhood.

There were 11,828 households out of which 26.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.10% were married couples living together, 6.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.40% were non-families. 28.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.84.

In the county, the population was spread out with 22.10% under the age of 18, 6.10% from 18 to 24, 25.40% from 25 to 44, 27.70% from 45 to 64, and 18.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 97.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.50 males.



Door County Fairgrounds

Although Door County has a year round population of about 28,000, it experiences a tourist explosion each summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day, as the Lake Michigan cold gives way to a brief but comfortable summer. Outside the city of Sturgeon Bay (a more densely populated year-round community), many businesses are specifically targeted to the visitors, and close during the "off season" (roughly 8-9 months per year, although many tourists are opting to visit in the late spring and early fall, effectively extending the tourist season). Throughout the summer months, the population of Door County can reach levels as high as 250,000 residents, with tourists, and summer residents included, especially around and during the long weekends of Memorial Day, Independence Day (July 4), and Labor Day. The majority of tourists and summer residents come from the metropolitan areas of Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, and the Twin Cities.

Door County is home to five of Wisconsin's state parks: Newport State Park, northeast of Ellison Bay; Peninsula State Park, along over six miles of the Green Bay shoreline; Potawatomi State Park, along Sturgeon Bay; Rock Island State Park, off the tip of the Door Peninsula; and Whitefish Dunes State Park, along Lake Michigan. These five parks are known as "5 jewels in the crown". The parks offer visitors recreation opportunities including hiking, camping, swimming, fishing and snowmobiling.

Most of Door County's lighthouses built during the 1800s are listed in the National Register of Historic Places: Baileys Harbor Range Lights, Cana Island Lighthouse, Chambers Island Lighthouse, Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, Pilot Island Lighthouse, Plum Island Range Lights, Potawatomi Lighthouse, and Sturgeon Bay Canal Lighthouse.

Fish boils, offered at many Door County restaurants, are a popular meal for tourists. Potatoes, onions and Whitefish from the local waters are cooked in a large kettle over a wood fire. At the end of the cooking time, the cook throws fuel oil or kerosene on the fire. This "flame up" causes the water to boil over. The fish and vegetables are served with melted butter. This meal is traditionally followed by a cherry dessert.

Door County is also very popular for its boating, hiking, fishing, ice cream, candy, golfing, miniature golf, go-karts and unique shopping. Door County has an outside movie theater called the Skyway Drive-in, located in Fish Creek. Bed and breakfasts, vacation houses, and resorts are often used for lodging.

Door County prides itself on its cherry orchards, of which there are over 2,000 acres. Apple orchards and wineries are also to be found within the peninsula. It also know for it's coffee and tea company in door county that exports throughout Wisconsin state.


City, villages, and townsEdit

Door county, wisconsin, 1895

Door County, Wisconsin from the 1895 U.S. Atlas

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 45°01′N 87°01′W / 45.02, -87.01

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Door County, Wisconsin. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.

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