History of Door County, Wisconsin, The County Beautiful by HJalmar Holand. Source: History of Door County, Wisconsin, The County Beautifulby Hjalmar R. Holand (1. 91. 7) Transcribed for Genealogy Trails by Mary Saggio. CHAPTER XVIITHE STURGEON BAY CANALMany years ago Sturgeon was an open strait connecting Green Bay and Lake Michigan, and Northern Door County was.
Lake Michigan, however, is a restless worker, incessantly and indiscriminately smoothing out its shore. In the brief space of time since.
Door County was surveyed Lake Michigan has already made great changes along the sandy eastern shore of the county. At the Lake Michigan end of Sturgeon Bay this. Here the waves and the wind working together filled. That this ridge of sand is of recent origin is borne out by the fact that when the excavation for the canal. It seems evident that this tree had been covered up by the drifting sand two or three. When the first settlers came this ridge of sand was almost two miles wide at its narrowest point and covered.
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The Indians had a well trodden trail over it, over which they portaged their canoes. To cut a path. through that rolling forest of timber so that ships could sail where then the wild deer bounded, seemed an impossible. One man among Sturgeon Bay's pioneers was not daunted by a freak of nature, but believed a passage could.
He saw that if this were done Sturgeon Bay would become a lake port as well as a Green. Bay port, an ever increasing tonnage would flow past its doors and Sturgeon Bay would become a city instead of. This man was Joseph Harris, Sr.
About 1. 86. 0 he began to urge the formation of a company of stockholders who would dig the canal. He preached. it early and late to his neighbors and to every chance visitor he met.
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His townspeople, however, were men of small. Mr. Harris was laughed at as a dreamer. However, in the neighboring Village of Little. Sturgeon there was a big business man by the name of F.
Gardner who saw the great significance of the scheme. Mr. Harris was able to interest many other men of large resources and influence.
In 1. 86. 4, he was elected to the State Senate and while there drew up a charter of incorporation which was suffered. The list of incorporators, however, was more significant. They were William. B. Ogden, president of the Chicago & Northwestern Ry. Co., Chicago's first mayor and the largest lumber operator. Northern Wisconsin; F. Beebe, Jesse Spalding and A.
Goodrich, of Chicago; Alexander. Mitchell, Anson Eldred and Daniel Wells, of Milwaukee; Joseph Harris and George Bennett, of Sturgeon Bay; A. Baird, George Strong, Andrew E. Schettler, of Green Bay; Andrew Reed, of De Pere; William M.
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Whitcomb and Uri Balcom, of Oconto. Edwin C. French, of Peshtigo; Richard S.
Fay, of Boston; George P. Smith, of Philadelphia; Elisha Riggs, of Washington.
D. Speirgelberg and David Magie, of New York; Elias Gill, of Hartford, Conn.; and William G. Mc. Master. of Lockport, N. The widely extended territory indicated by the localities mentioned above but faintly illustrates. Mr. Harris from the conception of the canal in 1. The next year he went to Washington to fight for a land grant.
He asked for 2. 00,0. The Wisconsin members. Senators Howe and Doolittle assisted him. Senate. He then left Washington to attend to his duties as state senator. Madison and while there learned that his land grant bill had failed to pass the House of Representatives by. Harris returned to Washington to devote his entire time to pushing the land grant. He secured. memorials from influential commercial bodies, such as the Chicago Board of Trade and others, addressed to Congress.
This time he was successful. The bill passed and under. Governor Fairchild he located the lands May 1. The lands selected were all the odd numbered. Marinette County.
On October 4, 1. 86. The Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan Ship Canal and Harbor Company, organized by electing William B. Ogden. president; Alexander Mitchell, vice president; and Joseph Harris, secretary and treasurer. Money at this time was earning 1.
In a meeting of the officers in New York, Mr. Harris was told that it would be practically. This was discouraging news but proved true.
In Green Bay, for instance, the city that would. This survey was made in 1. A. Thompson and was paid for with $1,5. Mr. Harris. obtained May 1. Village of Sturgeon Bay.
The survey made. in 1. Thompson estimated the. This route was later abandoned because a ledge of rock was discovered. March 5, 1. 86. 8, the Wisconsin Legislature passed an act, which was really a contract, providing the conditions. According to this act the canal company was to build the canal.
On him it devolved. Congress the second grant of 2. He got one bill after another. Congress, but Congress failed to be persuaded.
Memorials, petitions and inter views by the score. Congress but without avail.
Drew, lighthouse keeper on Green Island, kept a. According. to him, there passed in 1. Statistics were collected showing the annual output of the sawmills whose products would pass through the canal.
These were as follows: Feet. Menominee River - 3. Peshtigo River, - 7. Oconto River - 1. Pensaukee - 8,0. 00,0. Little Suamico - 8,0.
Big Suamico - 6,0. Green Bay - 5,0. 00,0. Ada River - 1. 6,0. Sturgeon Bay - 1. Total - 5. 88,0. 00,0. The untold dangers that these 7,0.
Death's Door were thrillingly set forth, but Congress refused to thrill. In the meantime the time set for fulfilling the terms on which. Finally, to put a stop to any further importunities. Congress in 1. 87.
Failing in this plan, Mr. Harris now tried another.
He was at this time secretary to Senator Sawyer and through. Government, and an examination of the lake shore for a. This bill was passed and prepared the way for another making an appropriation of $4. The survey was made in 1.
Capt. His estimate of the cost along the. During these years lumber thieves, especially in Marinette County had been busy in ruthlessly stripping the. A few of these thieves were brought to justice and about forty thousand dollars in. Congress appropriated $4. With. this appropriation, with the trespass funds and with other funds raised by the company it now felt able to begin. May 7, 1. 87. 2, a meeting of the directors was held in Chicago. Ogden was re- elected president; T.
Beebe, vice president; Joseph Harris, secretary; and W. Strong, assistant secretary and treasurer.
On the. executive board were chosen W. Gardner and Jesse Spalding. Casgrain was appointed chief engineer. This was shortly afterward increased.
Casgrain was instructed to advertise for bids to build one- fourth of the canal this season. July 8, 1. 87. 2, the first shovelful of earth was scooped from the bed of the future canal, by the dredge, Gutches. From that time the work. The governor's certificate to this effect. October 7th, and the company shortly afterward received one- fourth of the lands. The following year. In this year, however, another period of serious financial depression.
In order to enable the company to continue the work. Legislature, authorizing the company to mortgage all the lands as security for its bonds. This. delay greatly irritated a large faction of the population of Sturgeon Bay and vicinity.
Instigated by men who felt. Harris was sneered at as being only a tool. Three investigations were made of the affairs of the company and the deed to the second. It was finally proven that the management. Finally, on June 2. Green Bay and Lake Michigan rushed together. Two dredges worked toward each other until only two feet separated.
Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan. Superintendent Sager cut this with a shovel and the current soon. Captain Casgrain. This marked the completion.
The people of Sturgeon Bay had looked forward to this great hour with the liveliest anticipation. A great celebration. July. Delegations and bands were present from all the cities of. Green Bay region. After a dinner at the Music Hall, the invited guests and others proceeded to the public square. Strong presided over the ceremonies.
Speeches were made by U. Howe, Governor William.
E. Cassaday, Jesse Spalding, and T. Other prominent visitors. Congressman Philetus Sawyer, State Senator George Grummer, William Pitt. Lynde, George H. Lowe, Harrison Ludington, J.
The canal was formally baptized and its entrance into the world of commerce formally. Wisconsin. But it was completed merely in the rough. While small crafts at once began to use the canal, much dredging and excavation remained to be done to permit.
Late in the fall of 1. Government. officials and was declared fully completed.
More than one million one hundred thousand cubic yards of material. Government estimates called for. The canal proper is 7,4. Along its banks for 3,3. At right angles to these. Outside of the canal lies the.
Government. It is 8. At the outside opening the harbor is 2. The harbor was built directly by.
Government, for which Congress appropriated at different times a total of $1. The cost of the canal up to 1. Excavation - $2. 29,8.
Docking, rivetment, etc - 2. Civil engineer's department - 3. Total - $2. 91,4. In 1. 89. 3 the canal was purchased by the Government for $1. Due principally to Joseph Harris' initiative and dauntless perseverance this canal was built and Sturgeon Bay. As is common in such cases, however, the services of the. A striking illustration of this usurpation of credit is found in Hon.
Isaac. Stephenson's autobiography, where the ex- senator in describing his conquest of Northern Wisconsin and Michigan. A little credit is given to his business associates. Stephenson knows nothing.
Stephenson refers to the canal in the following statements. The project of building a canal across the narrow neck of land at Sturgeon Bay called the portage had. Peshtigo Company (of which Mr.
Stephenson. was a large stockholder and general manager) took the initiative in the formation of a corporation to undertake. A preliminary survey was made, largely through my efforts and at my expense. Later I succeeded in having the Government engineers make another survey.
This was adopted and a grant of 2.