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Sturgeon Bay in Door County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Joseph Harris, Sr.

 
 
Joseph Harris, Sr. Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devon Polzar, 2021
1. Joseph Harris, Sr. Marker
Inscription.  

Joseph Harris, Sr. recognized as the Father of Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal, was born in London, England in 1813 and emigrated to the United States in 1849. Coming to Door County in 1855, he became involved in real estate. He built the first brick house in the county (located across from the Friends Church on Maple Street). He was one of the organizers of Otumba, which became Sturgeon Bay.

He was the first Door County Clerk and Register of Deeds, and for six years was County Treasurer. In 1862 he founded the County's first newspaper, the Door County Advocate, and in 1864 was elected to the Wisconsin State Senate. Harris died in 1889.

A visionary, Harris realized the impact of a canal to Lake Michigan and talked of it tirelessly even though he was laughed at as a dreamer. But when the Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan Ship Canal and Harbor Co. was formed, Harris was taken more seriously. The President of Chicago and North Western Railway Co. headed the company.

While in the Senate, Harris drew up supportive legislation for the canal company and twice went to Washington to secure federal grants totaling 200,000 acres
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of land to provide financing for the project.

Work on the canal began July 8, 1872. A nationwide financial panic in 1874 caused delays, but work continued and in 1878 the waters of Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan met. The project was three-quarters finished. More than a million cubic yards of earth were removed before dredging was completed in the fall of 1881. Navigation through the passage started in 1882.

The canal, which cost $291,461 was sold to the federal government in 1893 for $103,000.

(Chan Harris is the great grandson of Joseph Harris, Sr.)
 
Erected 1995 by Door County Historical Society.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Waterways & Vessels.
 
Location. 44° 49.872′ N, 87° 23.201′ W. Marker is in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, in Door County. Marker is on West Juniper Street near North Lansing Avenue, on the left when traveling east. The marker is along the West Waterfront walking path along Sturgeon Bay and is near the intersections of W. Juniper Street and N. Lansing Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Sturgeon Bay WI 54235, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Old Bridge (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Schooner Rudder (about 800 feet away); Dunlap Reef Light Tower
Joseph Harris, Sr. Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devon Polzar, 2021
2. Joseph Harris, Sr. Marker
(about 800 feet away); Capstans (about 800 feet away); Propeller and Stirrup Bearing (about 800 feet away); 41-Foot Utility Boat Large (UTB) (approx. 0.2 miles away); Semper Paratus (approx. 0.2 miles away); Sturgeon Bay Bridge (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sturgeon Bay.
 
Sturgeon Bay side of the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devon Polzar, 2021
3. Sturgeon Bay side of the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 5, 2022. It was originally submitted on February 5, 2022, by Devon Polzar of Port Washington, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 400 times since then and 51 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on February 5, 2022, by Devon Polzar of Port Washington, Wisconsin. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.

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May. 19, 2024