Sturgeon Bay canal

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Sturgeon Bay Canal. Source: insertcreatorinfo

The Sturgeon Bay Canal was built for the simplification of the shipbuilding economy. This economy was a necessary step in the expansion of Sturgeon Bay and provided many jobs and housing for residents. However, there were negative effects of this canal. These effects included aspects of maintenance dredging, sediments, pollutants, and forest vegetation.


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Location of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Source: insertcreatorinfo


Sturgeon Bay: A Brief History

Origins

The city of Sturgeon Bay was settled in 1850 and is located at the midpoint of the 90-mile long Door Peninsula in Door County. [1] The town developed rapidly after the first home was built along the waterfront in 1850, by 1862 there were more than 200 residents and three sawmills. The city became a center of stone quarrying in the late 19th century. According to the 2010 census there are a little over 9,000 residents living in Sturgeon Bay. [2]

Quarrying

In the late 19th century, Sturgeon Bay became known for its stone quarrying. There were five quarries that shipped the limestone the city was formed on throughout the region to many ports. Eventually, a canal was built in the 1880s that linked Sturgeon Bay to Lake Michigan. This brought a safe pass way for ships that had previously had to travel through dangerous parts of the Lake. [3]

Canal is Formed

This safe pass for ships attracted thousands of ships and Sturgeon Bay became a well-known area for maritime traffic and shipbuilding. [4] Construction began in 1873 and was to connect Sturgeon Bay to Lake Michigan. Editor of the Door County Advocate, Joseph Harris, Sr., was largely responsible for the canal. Upon arriving in Sturgeon Bay in 1855, he quickly realized a need for the canal and was able to gain support for the project by promoting its economic necessity. [5]

Shipbuilding and Maritime Traffic

The shipbuilding business brought many people, goods and other products to the city. Although, Milwaukee and Manitowoc were home to the first shipyards in Wisconsin, they emerged in Sturgeon Bay as an economic necessity. The area had few major roadways and no substantial railroad connects, the addition of these shipyards in the mid-19th century helped the city see the ability for rapid expansion. This projected expansion of industry provided hope for the area for the number of jobs available. [6]


Maritime museum located on the waterfront, further showcases the area’s roots.

  • 120 N Madison Ave, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
  • (920) 743-5958

Effects of the Canal

Maintenance Dredging

Dredging is the cleaning out of the canal by scooping mud and sediments with a dredge. Typically the disposal process consisted of putting it back into open water areas. [7] This leads to many consequences such as distribution of these sediments as well as previously hidden toxins exposed to the open water now. This could be very harmful to wildlife in the waters as well as the people living in Sturgeon Bay.

Sediments

Sediments of Sturgeon Bay and the shipping canal are predominately silty in character. There are varying proportions of clay, sand and loam. In 1969, these sediments were determined polluted by the Federal Water Pollution Control Administration, now administered by the Environmental Protection Agency. An analysis of the sediments was conducted to test for volatile solids, chemical oxygen demand, total kjeldahl nitrogen, oil and grease. Lead indicated pollutional levels according to the EPA pollution criteria. In processes to remove these sediments, there can be newly exposed sediments that interact with the water before reaching a safe level. This means that toxic elements can be released in to the water. [8]

Pollutants

Door County is underlain by Niagara limestone, this rock is heavily creviced which permits water to flow freely through the layers of stone [9]. The bed rock formation is an abundant source of groundwater and causes the city to rely heavily on this water pumped from municipal wells. [10] The structure of the land makes it extremely easy for pollutants to enter the water. This pollutes majority of the ground water, bays, lakes and streams. Direct precipitation and snowmelt discharges water to pumping wells, the natural springs then discharge that to Lake Michigan and Green Bay as well as to interior lakes and streams. [11]

Forest Vegetation

Much of the natural vegetation of Door County has been removed to make more land available for agricultural cropland. [12] Most of this cropland was removed due to the creation of the canal. Although this was necessary for the economy, the forest vegetation is very important to this area as well. This vegetation slowed and lowered the potential of all land and water getting contaminated. However, this did have a positive impact of removing some of the land that created more sediment and erosion problems for the water of the city.

Lighthouse history

The first lighthouse in the ship canal was constructed in 1873 due to a suggestion by the Lighthouse Board. The lighthouse was constructed at the end of the canal near Lake Michigan. The project was eventually approved by congress in 1881. During the summer a 29-foot tower with a red light was made above the pier, 35 feet above the water. [13] In 1893 the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal was purchased by the federal government. Before the purchase of the canal, there was a demand for more light at the canal entrance due to a major increase in boat traffic. In May 1898 the construction of another lighthouse site began. This tower stood nearly 78 feet tall. The second tower was equipped with a watch room and a lantern that stood nearly 18 feet tall and 8 feet wide. This lighthouse had problems immediately when it began operating. It would shake and vibrate due to the wind and it affected the light. [14] In 1903 changes were made to the lighthouse, steel framework was added to support the tower. This eventually ended up fixing the shaking and vibration problem the lighthouse previously faced. This lighthouse is still currently on the canal. Today the light tower is known as The Canal Station Light Tower. It is open for visitors to come tour and enjoy. [15]

Nature Preserve

Brief Description

The nature preserve is located within the city of Sturgeon Bay containing the two historic lighthouses and the entrance to the ship canal. This nature preserve has 445 protected acres of land. There are nearly 2.5 miles of trails for hiking on with some scenic views of the canal. The Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Nature Preserve is there to be enjoyed by tourists and local residents. [16]

Rare and Threatened Species

The Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Nature Preserve is home to some rare and threated species. These species include the dune thistle, dune goldenrod, dwarf lake iris, bald eagle, Caspian tern and the osprey. This area is also a very critical region for the resting spot of many migrating neotropical birds. [17]

References

  1. WHS Library-Archives Staff, "Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin - A Brief History", 2009, http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Content.aspx?dsNav=Ny:True,Ro:0,N:4294963828-4294963805&dsNavOnly=N:1133&dsRecordDetails=R:CS2457&dsDimensionSearch=D:sturgeon+bay,Dxm:All,Dxp:3&dsCompoundDimensionSearch=D:sturgeon+bay,Dxm:All,Dxp:3.
  2. U.S. Census Bureau, "Sturgeon Bay Population", 2010, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045216/5577875,00.
  3. WHS Library-Archives Staff, "Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin - A Brief History", 2009, http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Content.aspx?dsNav=Ny:True,Ro:0,N:4294963828-4294963805&dsNavOnly=N:1133&dsRecordDetails=R:CS2457&dsDimensionSearch=D:sturgeon+bay,Dxm:All,Dxp:3&dsCompoundDimensionSearch=D:sturgeon+bay,Dxm:All,Dxp:3.
  4. WHS Library-Archives Staff, "Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin - A Brief History", 2009, http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Content.aspx?dsNav=Ny:True,Ro:0,N:4294963828-4294963805&dsNavOnly=N:1133&dsRecordDetails=R:CS2457&dsDimensionSearch=D:sturgeon+bay,Dxm:All,Dxp:3&dsCompoundDimensionSearch=D:sturgeon+bay,Dxm:All,Dxp:3.
  5. Lighthouse Friends, "Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal, WI", http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=255.
  6. WHS Library-Archives Staff, "Shipbuilding in Wisconsin", http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Content.aspx?dsNav=Ny:True,N:4294963828-4294963805&dsNavOnly=N:1133&dsRecordDetails=R:CS1822.
  7. Col. Miller, James M. U.S. Army Engineer District Chicago. "The Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan Ship Canal, Wisconsin: Maintenance Dredging and Spoil Disposal" October 1974. https://books.google.com/books?id=XBA0AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA6&lpg=PA6&dq=i.+Much+of+the+natural+vegetation+of+Door+County+has+been+removed+to+make+more+land+available+for+agricultural+cropland&source=bl&ots=btXNYf-ouH&sig=fCemGV_1_LbD2WPk70lj_s4EIig&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiizo7ww97TAhXH5oMKHXo1D_MQ6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
  8. Col. Miller, James M. U.S. Army Engineer District Chicago. "The Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan Ship Canal, Wisconsin: Maintenance Dredging and Spoil Disposal" October 1974. https://books.google.com/books?id=XBA0AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA6&lpg=PA6&dq=i.+Much+of+the+natural+vegetation+of+Door+County+has+been+removed+to+make+more+land+available+for+agricultural+cropland&source=bl&ots=btXNYf-ouH&sig=fCemGV_1_LbD2WPk70lj_s4EIig&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiizo7ww97TAhXH5oMKHXo1D_MQ6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
  9. Col. Miller, James M. U.S. Army Engineer District Chicago. "The Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan Ship Canal, Wisconsin: Maintenance Dredging and Spoil Disposal" October 1974. https://books.google.com/books?id=XBA0AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA6&lpg=PA6&dq=i.+Much+of+the+natural+vegetation+of+Door+County+has+been+removed+to+make+more+land+available+for+agricultural+cropland&source=bl&ots=btXNYf-ouH&sig=fCemGV_1_LbD2WPk70lj_s4EIig&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiizo7ww97TAhXH5oMKHXo1D_MQ6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
  10. Rayne, Todd W., Kenneth R. Bradbury, and Maureen A. Muldoon. "Delineation of Capture Zones for Municipal Wells in Fractured Dolomite, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, USA." Hydrogeology Journal 9, no. 5 (10, 2001): 432-450. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s100400100154. https://ezproxy.uwgb.edu:2443/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/851433645?accountid=14788.
  11. Sherrill, Marvin G. "Geology and ground water in Door County, Wisconsin, with emphasis on contamination potential in the Silurian Dolomite." Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (1977) https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/wsp2047
  12. Col. Miller, James M. U.S. Army Engineer District Chicago. "The Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan Ship Canal, Wisconsin: Maintenance Dredging and Spoil Disposal" October 1974. https://books.google.com/books?id=XBA0AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA6&lpg=PA6&dq=i.+Much+of+the+natural+vegetation+of+Door+County+has+been+removed+to+make+more+land+available+for+agricultural+cropland&source=bl&ots=btXNYf-ouH&sig=fCemGV_1_LbD2WPk70lj_s4EIig&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiizo7ww97TAhXH5oMKHXo1D_MQ6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
  13. Door County Maritime Museum. "Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Light Tower" http://www.dcmm.org/cana-island-lighthouse/door-county-lighthouses/ship-canal/
  14. Lighthouse Friends, "Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Lighthouse" http://lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=255
  15. Sturgeon Bay Door County Visitor Center. "Lighthouse" https://www.sturgeonbay.net/plan/lighthouses
  16. Door County Land Trust, "Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Nature Preserve", http://www.doorcountylandtrust.org/sturgeon-bay-ship-canal-nature-preserve/
  17. Door County Land Trust, "Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Nature Preserve", http://www.doorcountylandtrust.org/sturgeon-bay-ship-canal-nature-preserve/

Archival Resources for Further Research

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The Sturgeon Bay Canal Newspaper Article. Source: [1]

The picture at the left was found at the Wisconsin Historical Society website. This newspaper article was from the city of Marinette, WI. The headline was Sturgeon Bay Canal and was under the Transportation section.

Article History