Death’s Door Maritime Museum
Gills Rock, WI
Venture to the Tip of Door County
The Death’s Door Maritime Museum traces the area’s commercial fishing tradition. It boasts the wooden fishing tug Hope and a replica net shed complete with fishing boxes, net reel and other traditional fishing supplies. Visitors have the rare opportunity to explore – inside and out – the 45-foot wooden fishing tug Hope. It was built in 1930 by Sturgeon Bay Boat Works and owned by the well-known Stanley Voight fishing family. A video of the tug’s final fishing trip in 1992 is also part of the exhibit.
New in 2023 is an updated photography exhibit about the Washington Island Ferry Line. The museum also features a shipwreck and scuba diving exhibit, artifacts brought up from the bottom of Lake Michigan, and information on the area’s dangerous passage known as Death’s Door. The small fishing village of Gills Rock, WI is a hidden gem located at the very tip of the Door County peninsula on the shores of Porte des Mortes (Death’s Door).
Click here for admissions information or directions to the Gills Rock museum.
Death’s Door may be famous for having lent its name to both the Door Peninsula and Door County, but this strait of water that passes between Washington Island to the north and the Door Peninsula to the south is rich in history and legend. The exhibit explores the origins of Ports des Morts, as it was referred to by French explorers, all the way back to the native American tribes and the legends associated with them. Some of the many shipwrecks which went down in the treacherous strait are explored as well as thrilling accounts of the hearty fishermen who regularly work its waters.
Visitors to the Death’s Door Maritime Museum can also see the bronze sculpture – a tribute to commercial fishing in Northern Door – that was created by artist Mary Ott Davidson and unveiled in the summer of 2018.