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Sturgeon Bay Stone Fleet

A cache by WiscMaritime Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 3/9/2011
3 out of 5
2.5 out of 5

Size: Size: small (small)

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Geocache Description:

The final location of the cache requires some knowledge of the history of Sturgeon Bay’s stone trade – both the quarries that cut the limestone from the hills and the ships that carried it, sometimes referred to as the “Stone Fleet”.

There is a distance of approximately 13 miles from beginning to end. The final cache is located on Potawatomi State Park property. A state park vehicle sticker is required. Geocachers must follow all state park rules. The cache is a ½ cup-sized Tupperware container.

Look for a sign near the following coordinates that describes the history of Leathem and Smith Quarry:
44° 54.282’
087° 24.290’

The stone industry developed slowly in Sturgeon Bay, and did not have a significant effect on the area’s economy and growth until the Laurie Stone Quarry opened in 1880. It was then that limestone joined fur, fish, lumber and ice as a major commodity in Sturgeon Bay.

You are standing at the Leathem and Smith Quarry where, in 1898, it became the largest crushed stone plant in Wisconsin. This quarry produced a capacity of 1,000 tons of crushed stone per day. By 1898, there were four quarries operating within Sturgeon Bay: the Leathem and Smith, the Green Stone Quarry, the Laurie Stone Company, and the Termensen and Jensen Company. Sturgeon Bay’s stone trade was the largest on the Great Lakes. Although the dolomitic limestone found around Sturgeon Bay was inadequate for building blocks or finished stone, it was excellent for the construction of breakwaters, harbors, and piers due to its density, strength, and lack of absorbency.

With the limestone bluffs so close to shore, stone was easily transported to the shoreline via narrow gauge rail and loaded aboard lake steamers and barges. During the nineteenth century, quarry docks, built especially to transfer limestone to waiting vessels, dotted the shorelines of Sturgeon Bay. Today, the remains of many of these docks can still be seen, and the ships of the Stone Fleet, which so proudly carried Sturgeon Bay’s limestone, still lie on the bottom of Sturgeon Bay, Green Bay, and Lake Michigan.

If you look at the mouth of the boat ramp canal you should see a floating buoy with an orange triangle. This buoy marks the remains of the steamer Joseph L. Hurd. Built in 1869, the Joseph L. Hurd was purchased by Leathem and Smith in 1895 and served in the stone trade as a steamer and later as a towed barge until her loss in 1913.

A few feet north of this historic marker you will find the propeller, shaft, and stern section of the lumber steamer Mueller. Ships like the Mueller, when they had outlived their usefulness in their specified trades, were scuttled and filled with rock to construct piers and breakwaters for the quarries. The rest of the Mueller still lies just southeast of this marina, but the stern section you are viewing was removed from the water during dredging operations.

Use information from the historic marker, and information from the Mueller’s stern section, to determine coordinates for the final cache.

_ _ _ _ = ABCD
The year John Leathem and Thomas Smith established this quarry (found on the historic marker)

“HEAT _ _ _” = XYZ
Markings on the Mueller’s propeller nut, or the retaining nut which holds the propeller onto the shaft.

The final cache is located at
44 Y2.ZB0
087 2Y.Y4Z

From this spot you can look across Sawyer Point and the mouth of Sturgeon Bay to see the massive footprint of the Leathem and Smith Quarry. Behind you is the towering Government Bluff. It was here that Sturgeon Bay’s stone trade first began. The U.S. government bought this land in 1834 in order to quarry stone for its own docks and harbors. Government Bluff was a major stone quarrying operation. It wasn’t until the early 1880’s that the first commercial quarry was opened on Government Bluff by Frank Hogan. Hogan was only a squatter on this land, however, and he was soon driven off to start the Green Stone Quarry in Sawyer.

This geocache was placed in partnership with Wisconsin Historical Society, Potowatomi State Park, the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, Door County Maritime Museum, and the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute. We hope you enjoyed learning about the Sturgeon Bay Stone Trade. To learn more about Wisconsin’s maritime heritage, please attend one of the interpretive programs at the park and visit our other geocaches in Door County and throughout the state, or visit!

The Geocache Notification Form has been submitted to the Potawatomi State Park Superintendent of the Wisconsin DNR. Geocaches placed on Wisconsin Department of Resources managed lands require permission by means of a notification form. This has been done and the Potawatomi State Park Superintendent, Don McKinnon, has been spoken to, giving permission for this cache placement. The DNR notification form and land manager information can be obtained at (visit link)

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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

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