May 23, 2017


Kurt Krueger, left, who spent two years restoring this abandoned 1917 Kahlenberg steam engine, is introduced to Niles Weborg of Ephraim, who fished as a young boy off the “King” fishing tug of which the engine powered for 45 years. Weborg’s father Marvin also fished the boat which was built by the Sturgeon Bay Boat Works in 1920 for Victor Johnson of Ellison Bay. Krueger was among the maritime specialists on hand at the Gills Rock Maritime Museum for an open house highlighting some of its exhibits Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016.

 The Door County Maritime Museum at Gills Rock will open May 26-28 for Memorial Day weekend. The museum will open daily for the season on June 3 and remain open through October 15, 2017. 

After taking the scenic trip to the tip of Door County, visitors will find a wealth of maritime history awaiting them at the Door County Maritime Museum at Gills Rock. The museum traces the area’s commercial fishing tradition and features a shipwreck and a scuba diving exhibit including artifacts brought up from the bottom of Lake Michigan. It boasts the wooden fishing tug Hope built in 1930, 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.

Recent additions to the museum include the newly restored 1917 Kahlenberg engine as well as the Plum Island Fresnel lens. The Kahlenberg engine was built in 1910 for the yacht Cherokee by the Kahlenburg Brothers. The Plum Island light was constructed in Paris, France, in 1889 and served until 2015 when the U.S. Coast Guard replaced it with an LED light. These exhibits and many more will be under the care of the museum’s new site manager, Kirsten Linder.

Linder joined the museum this spring. Born and raised in Tennessee, she went to college in California. She loves to travel and spent the summer after college in France, Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg. Her love for small towns and a small community were born when she moved to Port Clyde, Maine, where she worked at a bed & breakfast and general store. Her husband, Derreck, worked in Ellison Bay a year before she moved up. They had a Door County wedding held not far from the museum in Gills Rock.

“I’m so excited to meet new visitors,” Linder said. “I’m looking forward to sharing with them the great history of the families who have really built up Gills Rock. I love the Hope — a magnificent fishing boat that is on display here at the Gills Rock location. You can walk through it and explore all the nooks and crannies yourself. I’m looking forward to the summer of 2017 and all the visitors that come with it.”

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 occurred in the treacherous strait are explored as well as thrilling accounts of the hearty fishermen who regularly worked its waters.

But there’s even more as our interactive technology, called Augmented Reality, assists in telling our stories. Using a tablet provided by the museum or your own personal smart phone, visitors will experience maritime history in a whole new way.

The museum will be open for Memorial Day weekend from 10 am-5 pm Friday-Sunday.  Beginning June 3 the museum will be open daily from 10 am-5 pm.  For more information or directions to the museum visit or call (920)743-5958.

Media contact:

Amy Paul

Executive Director

(920) 743-5958