June 23, 2017


If you or your guests have not toured one of the largest tugboats on the Great Lakes, now is the time and the Door County Maritime Museum is the place. Visitors can enjoy an all-access, 40-minute guided tour of the tug John Purves, an immaculately restored 1919 Great Lakes tugboat. The tour includes exploring the entire 149-foot tug, from her engine room to crew cabins, galley and wheelhouse and getting a feel for the daily life of her hard-working, 13-man crew.

John Purves is permanently docked at the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, just outside the museum doors.  She’s sailed everywhere from the Great Lakes to the Caribbean to the Bering Sea. She had at least 10 different action-packed careers, including rescuing foundered ships and serving in World War II. The tug began her long career serving as a floating radio station for the U.S. Navy in the Caribbean. Later, she worked towing barges of pulpwood on Lake Superior and then served in WWII as a supply boat to Army garrisons in the Aleutian Islands.

In December 1956, Roen Steamship Company of Sturgeon Bay purchased the tug John Purves and put her to work on all five Great Lakes taking on towing and salvage jobs. The Purves was well known throughout the Great Lakes for her strength and towing capabilities. In fact, due to her might, she made a good living after the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, rescuing many a saltwater vessel that ran aground in the tricky channels of the Great Lakes.

In 2003, she was donated to the Door County Maritime Museum and sports the crisp colors of the Roen Steamship Company once again. More than 27,000 volunteer hours were invested to bring the tug back to her glory days to look like she did in the 1960s.

Admission is $13 and includes the museum’s galleries, plus a guided tour of tug John Purves. Youth admission (5-17) is only $10. For safety, children must be at least 4 years old and 38” tall to tour the John Purves.  Visit the tug John Purves and the Door County Maritime Museum at 120 N Madison Ave, Sturgeon Bay, WI.  Tours are available daily from 10:00 am-3:30 pm May 1 through October 29. For more information visit


Media Contact:

Amy Paul, Executive Director