One of Wisconsin’s biggest tourism areas around the Porte des Morts strait is better known by another name: Death’s Door. Exact lore varies, but the treacherous waters of the Door Peninsula claimed 24 sailing vessels between 1837-1914. Surrounding islands, shoals and bays took 40 others between the 1830s and 1940s. Shipwrecks prompted the construction of Sturgeon Bay’s canal in 1881, giving rise to the county’s famous lighthouses, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Maritime Preservation Program.
Door County’s maritime infamy has diminished, but visitors will find allusions to Porte des Morts in local culture and products, such as Death’s Door Distillery.