Sturgeon Bay's Waterfront History: Fishing Industry

© Photographed May 28, 2015
Erected 2007 by City of Sturgeon Bay and
Wisconsin Coastal Management Program
Sturgeon Bay, Door County, Wisconsin
44.830766,-87.37686
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Sturgeon Bay's Waterfront History
Fishing Industry
Commercial fishing began in Sturgeon Bay in the mid-1800's. By the 1900's a number of families ran commercial fishing operations here. At one time, Green Bay waters supported the largest commercial fishery in Wisconsin. Commercial fishermen caught herring, perch and whitefish that inhabited the shoals throughout the bay and fished for trout in the deeper, colder waters of the northern bay. On Lake Michigan, the primary catch was chub, perch, trout and whitefish. At the peak of commercial fishing activity in Sturgeon Bay, thousands of pounds of fish were smoked or salted and packed to be sent to markets in Milwaukee, Chicago and cities in the East. This provided employment for many at the local fish packing houses in Sturgeon Bay. 
Active commercial fishing operations ceased in the 1990's with the decline of the fish population. While commercial fisherman no longer use Sturgeon Bay as a home port, commercial fishermen are still operating out of ports in northern Door County. Descendents [sic] or relatives of the Sturgeon Bay fishing families are still active in Two Rivers and Sheboygan. 
The State of Wisconsin operated a fish hatchery near this site from the 1910's until the 1950's. Commercial fishermen would bring spawning trout and whitefish to the hatchery in the fall and would assist with the planting of the fingerlings in the spring.
The marker is located on Sturgeon Bay's Waterfront at Graham Park, and is accessible from the westernmost end of Pennsylvania Street, west of its intersection with Qunicy Street, at or near 10 Pennsylvania Street, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin 54235.

NOTE: Graham Park consists of 1.2 acres between Oregon Street Bridge and Pennsylvania Street and was the former PBI Shipyard site. The creation of the waterfront park is a key part of the redevelopment efforts for the former shipyard area.



The Wisconsin state fish hatchery operated for over 40 years from it's [sic] location on the downtown waterfront. The Allie family's commercial fishing business was based on the adjoining parcel. Both facilities were eventually purchased and demolished to make way for the expanding shipbuilding industry. Original street names are shown.
The Allie Brothers fish house where fish were sorted, smoked and packed for sale or shipping. Allie Brothers ceased operations in the early 1960's. The boat in the photo is the tug Allie. Built in 1938 the Allie was the last wooden fish tub to be built at Sturgeon Bay Boat Works.
ca. 1938
Fishing nets being reeled on "wheels" to dry.
ca. 1944
Fishing tugs J.B. Nelson (owned by Leonard Nelson), Neptune 
(owned by Emil Nelson), Fawn (owned by Knipfer Bros.),
Allie (owned by Allie Bros.), breaking ice to get to Lake
Michigan. Working together they were more effective in
breaking up the ice.
ca. Dec. 1948
Gill nets drying at Allie Brothers dock and fish tug Gervase
ca. 1934
Catch for the day -- about 300 lbs. of trout
ca. 1948
The State operated fish hatchery.
ca. 1915
The marker is visible around the bend to the left.

The pathway leading to the marker's location.

The marker is located at Graham Park.

Plenty of parking to access the marker.

The marker is located at Sturgeon Bay's Historic Downtown Waterfront.

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