Door County Compass
emagazine covering Door Co
Find A Grave
listing of the county's cemetery and partial burials
The Political Graveyard
where politicians are known to have been buried 
Government statistics
agriculture, population, demographics, and more
Rootsweb's Door County Resources
genealogy sites and stats
The Great Peshtigo Fire of 1871
the worst forest fire in North American history
Cyndi's List
genealogy sites on the internet covering Door county
The Wisconsin Mosaic (1848-1905) chronology based on the Frautschi letters
Wisconsin Stories Wisconsin history one town at a time
Door RickNet Door county's ISP
Door County Maritime Museum nautical history of Door county
Egg Harbor Business Association visitor center
Door county Chamber of Commerce official website


Far away from the thousand hills of Wisconsin the waters of Green Bay are gathered. They come purling out of the gushing springs and gather together into little rills and ramble seaward. Into mighty rivers they join, like the swift Menominee, the somber Peshtigo and the famous Fox River. From cataract to cataract they leap, until at last they spread themselves on the bosom of the Emerald Sea.


Away up at this head and beginning of the Bay, the waters spread out sluggishly, with shallow, weed-grown bottoms, where the wild fowl stop to chatter on their flight to the tropics. Here the banks are low and the waters turgid, as if seeking rest. Perhaps they are weary of the busy hum of the cities that dot the Fox River valley, and fatigued with turning the innumerable wheels of industry that line the banks.


Gently the waves roll seaward, caressing the timbered shores, tempering the chill western winds and graciously giving to the peninsula that lies on its eastern border a climate and seasons of wonderful efficacy for growing luscious fruits.


But the air of the Green Bay Basin is invigorating, laden with life-stirring ozone from its evergeen forests. Soon, too, the sea feels new life pulsating within its deep. From the East to the West and on to the North, it rushes, seeking a nearby opening to join its big brother Michigan.


Off to the east the green-topped hills fall apart, making a big opening for Sturgeon Bay. Into this bay the sea leaps and bounds exultantly, believing that it has found a channel to Lake Michigan. For eight miles the waves roll merrilly inward, fed by this delusion, only to be stranded at last on the sands of the narrow isthmus, almost within sight of the Big Sea beyond.


Enraged by this obstacle the sea now hastens out of the narrow confines of Sturgeon Bay and turns northward. It rushes past the palisaded cliffs of Door County and hurls itself furiously against the many crags and islands that oppose it.


Banish from thy mind all unclean thoughts and sordid passions, the idle pursuit of riches, the vain dictates of fashion and the frivolous gayety of the weak-minded. Fulfill thy destiny as we have ours and thou wilt be a blessing to others, as we have been to thee!"

You, reader. who hare sat in the shade of Eagle Cliff, towering behind you "like a great rock in a weary land," with the sea before you like a silver field, your ears entertained by the murmur of the rockborn spring, your eyes delighted with curving shores and emerald islands. while far up in the sublime heights an eagle is majestically poised-you have felt that nowhere is more perfect scenery. Other scenes mav excel in this point or that, but nowhere is there a more harmonious combination of land and sea and distant view.

Is a Sicilian sunset more fair than that which meets the view of Sunset Cliff! Are the waters of the Bay of Naples as limpid as those that lave these shores! Is the Mediterranean sky tinged with a fairer blue than that which vaults Peninsula Park?

Peninsula Park! Your graces are three: They are Purity, Harmony and Dignity.


The movement to create a state park in Door County had its beginning in 1907. In that year certain residents of Madison and the City of Baraboo endeavored to secure the adoption of a bill in the Legislature to turn the lands surrounding Devils Lake into a state park. The bill did not make much headway in the Legislature. In order to interest the Legislature in the project the members were invited to visit Devils Lake and personally examine its fitness for a park .


On a certain day the entire Legislature visited the proposed park lands and were there entertained with speeches and refreshments. Among those present were Hon. Thos. Reynolds, member of the Legislature from Door County, and Isaac Stephenson, who had just been elected to the national Senate to succeed Hon. John C. Spooner who had resigned the office. These two occupied the same seat on the trip back to Madison.


Being from Door County  Mr. Reynolds was not vastly impressed with the beauty of Devils Lake. Turning to Senator Stephenson, he said: "Up in Door County we have at least three sites which are far more picturesque and desirble for state parks than Devils Lake. These people of Madison want everything. They have the capital, the State University, the Agricurtural Experiment Station, now they want also want a state park.


Why can we not locate such a park in Door County!" The subject was further discussed and finally Mr. Reynolds asked Senator Stephenson if he would aid the project financially if a park was established in Door County. This the senator agreed to do.


 A day or two afterward Mr. Reynolds presented a bill in the Legislature for an appropriation of $78,000 to purchase lands for a state park in Door County. The members of the Legislature were at first inclined to laugh at the idea of locating a state park in such an out-of-the-way place as Door County.


But when Mr. Reynolds on the floor stated that he was authorized to promise a liberal donation from a man of wealth, they became seriously interested. A committee inteviewed Senator Stephenson to learn how much he would give, but were referred by him to Mr. Reynolds. Mr. Reynolds being given the liberty of naming the amount and said Senator Stephenson would give $25,000. 

In due course of time Mr. Reynolds' bill became a law and the park board was authorized to expend $76,000 in the purchase of lands for the park. In the meantime several large delegations of prominent citizens had visited Door County in company with the park board for the purpose of selecting the most desirable sites.

The three sites that Mr. Reynolds had in mind were, first, the Clark's Lake region; second, the Kangaroo Lake vicinity, and third, the tract at present included in the park. While Mr. Reynolds for obvious reasons favored the tract adjacent to Clarks Lake all the visitors including the park board and Mr. John Nolen, a prominent landscape architect and authority on state parks from Boston whose services had been retained for expert advice, were unanimious that the tract of land lying between the villages of Fish Creek and Ephraim and the bar shore was the best suited for a state park of any in the state.

It is needless to emphasize that no park would hare been established in Door County without Senator Stephenson's donation to dignify the project. The senator made this donation freely and without any strings tied to it. He was prompted to do so by the fact that Door County in all his political battles had been his best support. The suggestion that his name be fixed to the park was not made by him.


This suggestion came from Mr. Thomas Brittingham, chairman of the park board. He came to the house of Mr. Reynolds and asked him to send a telegram to Mr. Stephenson promising that the park would be named Stephenson State Park provided the senator would give $50,000. Mr. Reynolds curtly refused to have anything to do with the project from that point forward gave it none of his attention.