Marine News from the Great Lakes

Door County Maritime Museum Announces Maritime Speaker Series Lineup

Published: Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Maritime Speaker Series returns to the Door County Maritime Museum for the 2017-2018 season. This year boasts an impressive lineup of speakers to educate and entertain maritime enthusiasts. The series runs the first Thursday of each month and kicks off on November 2 with award-winning columnist and author of ten books, Rochelle Pennington, who will speak about the Rouse Simmons, The Christmas Tree Ship.

Pennington’s talk will cover the true account of the Christmas Tree Ship, considered “the most loved story of the Great Lakes” over the past century. Pennington’s presentation includes original photographs and focuses on little-known facts—clues washed ashore over the decades following the ship’s mysterious disappearance, ghost ship sightings and omens believed to have fixed the fate of the vessel before it set sail on November 22, 1912. Artifacts raised from the sunken ship will be on display, along with underwater photos of the ship in its current state at the bottom of Lake Michigan.

On December 7, Captain Robert “Bob” Desh, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired) will speak on the history of the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal. A long-time maritime and Coast Guard history buff, Bob is the former Executive Director of the Door County Maritime Museum. He is on the Foundation for Coast Guard History and presently serves on the organization’s Board of Regents. Join Bob as he explores the history and influence of the Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan Ship Canal.

Model boat builder Larry Herbst will speak on January 4, 2018. He will focus on how to build model ships and what goes into it. He’ll discuss how to construct a hull—using a mine sweeper to make his points—and explain how detailing is the most time-consuming and difficult part of model ship building. Don’t miss this chance to learn from an expert. Larry Herbst grew up in a household of model boat builders where he was mentored by his father, Bill Herbst. Since 1975, Larry and his brother Terry have made about 40 models for shipyards on the Gulf Coast, fisheries on the West Coast, Alaskan shipping companies, jet fuel shipping companies, Marinette Marine, the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum, and the Door County Maritime Museum.

George Oram, born in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, will speak about life on the Great Lakes on February 1, 2018. He has been sailing on ore boats and freighters all his adult life. Wilford Sykes, Elton Hoyt, Joseph Block, Adam Cornelius, and Edward Ryerson are just a few of the ships he has called home. ‘Life on the Great Lakes’ will be the entertaining talk from George Oram as he explains what life is like away from your family, feeding the guys, and living aboard a ship for months at a time. Find out about his favorite recipes, and maybe get to try a dish too.

On March 1, 2018, Barb and Ken Wardius will speak on Door County lighthouses. Both are life-long residents of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They have authored four excellent books on lighthouses. Barb and Ken lead lighthouse tours and are sought after lighthouse lecturers, offering presentations that reflect their lighthouse books. During their presentation,” Exploring Door County Lighthouses—Beacons That Guide the Way,” all of the county’s lighthouses will be featured, with special emphasis on Cana Island—Door County’s most visited lighthouse. Archival and contemporary photography highlights the presentation.

Paul Schumacher serves on the Board of Directors of Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands (FOPPI). He will be speaking on April 5, 2018, about the restoration of Plum and Pilot Islands. Paul, a retired professional engineer, is active with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in leading projects to restore maritime structures on Plum and Pilot Islands. He will describe the history of Plum and Pilot Islands, the shipwrecks around the islands, and the USFWS and FOPPI efforts to restore the historic Coast Guard buildings on both islands. He will discuss the projects, along with the recently completed Historic Structures Report which is used as a guide to prioritize projects and he will highlight the long-term plans for the islands.

The Door County Maritime Museum holds their Maritime Speaker Series on Thursday nights at 7 p.m. in the winter and spring. You can find the Door County Maritime Museum at 120 N Madison Avenue, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. With the exception of the November 2 Rochelle Pennington talk that the museum is asking for a donation of $5 to defray the cost of the speaker, all of the other evening programs are free of charge with a non-perishable food donation requested. For more information please visit or call (920) 743-5958.

tags: Lake Michigan, History


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