Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Gills Rock in Door County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Pilot Island Site

Historic Shipwrecks

 

—Wisconsin's Maritime Trails —

 
Pilot Island Site Marker image. Click for full size.
By K. Linzmeier, September 16, 2008
1. Pilot Island Site Marker
Inscription.
J.E. Gilmore · Type: wooden schooner · Built: 1867, Asa Wilcox, · Three Mile Bay, N.Y. · Length: 137.7' · Beam: 25.4' · Propulsion: sail, 2 masted.

Forest · Type: wooden scow-schooner · Built: 1857, David Lester, · Newport, Mich. / rebuilt 1880 · Length: 87.5' / rebuilt 115.6' · Beam: 22.25' / rebuilt 23' · Propulsion: sail, 2 masted / rebuilt 3 masted.

A.P. Nichols · Type: wooden schooner · Built: 1861, Bailey Brothers, · Madison Dock, Ohio · Length: 145' · Beam: 30' · Propulsion: sail, 3 masted.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992
Depth: 20 ~ 50'
Location: NW side of Pilot Island, a seasonal mooring buoy marks the site.

On the night of Oct. 28, 1891, the Forest entered Death's Door en route from Chicago to Nahma, Mich. A gale struck and drove the schooner onto the reef at Pilot Island. The next day, the crew of five rowed to shore and took refuge at the lighthouse. The following fall the dangerous passage wrecked two more ships at the same spot. On Oct. 17, the Gilmore, sailing from Chicago to Elk Rapids, Mich., entered the passage in heavy, shifting winds and was blown onto the reef. The crew waited out the storm on board. On Oct. 28, fierce
Pilot Island Site Marker image. Click for full size.
By K. Linzmeier, September 16, 2008
2. Pilot Island Site Marker
Porte des Morts (Death's Door) Passage
Lake Michigan
winds and blinding snow struck the Nichols on its way from Chicago to Escanaba, Mich. The storm tore apart the Nichols' rigging and drove her onto the rocks near the Gilmore and Forest. In a daring rescue, the lighthouse crew helped the sailors leap from the rolling Nichols onto the icy deck of the Forest to reach Pilot Island.

The wrath of Death's Door battered the three stranded schooners for several years, scattering pieces in all directions. The tangled wreckage now allows divers to visit three victims of Death's Door in a single dive.

Through the Maritime Trails, the Wisconsin Historical Society and Wisconsin Sea Grant are working with local communities to preserve our maritime heritage. To learn more, visit www.maririmetrails.org.
 
Erected 2002 by the Wisconsin Historical Society's Maritime Preservation and Archaeology Program.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Wisconsin’s Maritime Trails marker series.
 
Location. 45° 17.423′ N, 86° 58.654′ W. Marker is near Gills Rock, Wisconsin, in Door County. Marker is on State Highway 42 east of South Port des Morts Drive, on the right when traveling east. Click for map. Marker is at the Northport
Marker and Lake Michigan image. Click for full size.
By Bob (peach) Weber, July 20, 2012
3. Marker and Lake Michigan
Ferry Terminal of the Washington Island Ferry. Marker is at or near this postal address: 215 Highway 42, Ellison Bay WI 54210, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 4 other markers are within 15 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Hotz Estate (approx. 4 miles away); Anderson Dock (approx. 13 miles away); First Permanent Colony in Door County (approx. 13.2 miles away); Steamer Frank O'Connor (approx. 14.4 miles away).
 
More about this marker. This is a Wisconsin's Maritime Trails marker.
 
Also see . . .
1. Wisconsin's Maritime Trails. (Submitted on November 23, 2010.)
2. Porte des Morts. "The strait is littered with shipwrecks. Some say it has more shipwrecks than any other section of fresh water in the world." (Submitted on November 23, 2010.) 

3. Northport Ferry Dock Web Cam. (Submitted on November 23, 2010.)
 
Categories. Waterways & Vessels
 
Pilot Island Lighthouse from Northport image. Click for full size.
By Bob (peach) Weber, July 20, 2012
4. Pilot Island Lighthouse from Northport
Northport Ferry Terminal image. Click for full size.
By K. Linzmeier, September 16, 2008
5. Northport Ferry Terminal
Lighthouse seen from marker image. Click for full size.
By Bob (peach) Weber, July 20, 2012
6. Lighthouse seen from marker
State Highway 42 image. Click for full size.
By K. Linzmeier, September 16, 2008
7. State Highway 42
The winding highway ends at Northport Pier.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 714 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.   3, 4. submitted on , by Bob (peach) Weber of Prescott Valley, Arizona.   5. submitted on , by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.   6. submitted on , by Bob (peach) Weber of Prescott Valley, Arizona.   7. submitted on , by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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