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Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal
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This is a multicache that will take you to three waypoints in Sturgeon Bay that are associated with the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal and Great Lakes commercial shipping. It is approximately 6 miles from beginning to end along paved city streets. It makes a nice bicycle ride through Sturgeon Bay or can be accomplished via moped or car. The final is a micro - remember to bring a pencil.
Sturgeon Bay was settled in 1850 when the first house was built along the waterfront. The town developed quickly, becoming home to more than 200 residents and three sawmills by 1862. In the late 19th-century Sturgeon Bay became a center for stone quarrying, and five stone quarries shipped limestone to many ports throughout the region for harbor improvements. In the 1880s, a canal was dug to link Sturgeon Bay with Lake Michigan, providing a fast, safe passage for ships that were previously forced to travel through the dangerous Ports des Morts (Death’s Door) Strait. The new canal quickly attracted thousands of ships and Sturgeon Bay became a center of maritime traffic and shipbuilding.
The coordinates of the first waypoint are:
44° 49. 873’
The construction of the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal was largely due to the effort of one man, Joseph Harris Sr. Soon after he arrived in Sturgeon Bay in 1855, Harris began writing of the need to construct a canal that connected Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan via the sandy ridges east of town. Touting the long-term economic impact of such a canal, Harris garnered wide support for the project. Construction of the canal in the 1870s and 1880s forever changed the Door Peninsula’s maritime landscape.
To decipher the coordinates for the second waypoint use the information written on the plaque at the first waypoint. Use the amount of money the canal cost to build and subtract the amount that the Federal Government later paid for the canal.
$2AB,C6B - $BDE,DDD = $BFFC6B
The coordinates for the second waypoint are:
CC° CF. E5C’
DF7° BA. FDA’
The second waypoint takes you to the start of the original canal that was 7,400 feet long, 100 feet wide, and 6 feet deep. This cut required the removal of more than one million cubic yards of earth - a considerable feat of engineering for the time!
Since its construction, the canal has received significant repairs and expansion, so that today the canal is now 7 miles long, 125 feet wide, and 16.5 to 21.5 feet deep.
To decipher the coordinates for the final waypoint, add the canal’s speed limit (at the second waypoint) to the number on green channel marker on opposite side of the canal.
(Speed limit) + (Number on Green Channel Marker) = AB
44° 47 68A’
087° A8 74B’
At the final waypoint, if you imagine you have gone back in time to the late 1800’s you would have looked out over the water and seen steamships and sailing craft entering and leaving the newly-built Sturgeon Bay Canal.
This cache was placed as a partnership with Wisconsin Historical Society, Wisconsin Maritime Museum, Door County Maritime Museum, and the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute. We hope you enjoyed finding out about the history of the Sturgeon Bay Canal. To learn more about Wisconsin’s maritime heritage please visit our other geocaches in Door County and throughout the state, or visit wisconsinshipwrecks.org!
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Last Updated: on 6/27/2018 8:42:57 PM Pacific Daylight Time (3:42 AM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum