Wisconsin Marine History

  • 1800's: Shipping made invaluable contributions to the development of 19th century Wisconsin, bringing people, goods, and other products to the frontier. (Dictionary)
  • 1830's: Milwaukee and Manitowoc were home to the first shipyards in Wisconsin, opening in the mid 1830's. (Dictionary)
  • 1847: The first wooden sailing ship built in Manitowoc was launched and the tradition of shipbuilding was born. (Seeing)
  • Mid-1800s: People streaming into the Midwest-and the grain, lumber, and iron pouring out-created a maritime industry across the Great Lakes. Fleets of ships served industries around the lakes and helped create thriving port cities, such as Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Chicago. (Great Lakes)
  • 1863: The Burger Boat Company was established, primarily constructing 20 foot to 30 foot Mackinaw fishing boats for local commercial fisherman.  The yard moved to building wooden sailing ships (schooners) and in 1901 moved to building motor launches.
  • By 1900: More than 200 schooners, tugs and steamers had been built in the Manitowoc shipyards. (Seeing)
  • 1904: Thompson Boats was founded in Peshtigo, and would later be called Cruisers Yachts.
  • 1918: Bay Shipbuilding traces its roots in building Great Lakes vessels back to 1918. (Total Marine Solutions)
  • 1939-1945: During the Second World War, under the name of Sturgeon Bay Boat Works, Palmer Johnson created over forty 45 foot air-sea rescue boats and four 65 foot "T" class freighters.  In 1956, the company was officially named Palmer Johnson Yachts.
  • 1940: The relationship of Submarines to the Manitowoc Shipyard began in 1940 when the Navy Dept. contacted the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co. for construction of 10 Submarines of the Gato Class.  The contract was later expanded to 41 submarines, of which 28 were completed before World War II drew to a successful close. (Pilger)
  • 1942: Marinette Marine Corporation was founded along the Menominee River in Marinette, Wisconsin to meet America's growing demand for naval construction. From humble beginnings with a contract to build five wooden barges, MMC has grown into a world-class shipbuilder, having designed and built more than 1,500 vessels. (Internationally Recognized)
  • 1954-1956: The humble beginnings of Carver Yachts began in a Milwaukee garage by Charlie Carter and George Verhagan building mahogany-planked high speed runabouts in 1954.  They were so successful selling to their friends that in 1956 they moved to Pulaski to turn their hobby into a business.
  • 1970: Manitowoc remained the center of shipbuilding in Wisconsin until 1970, when its largest shipbuilder moved to Sturgeon Bay (now known as Bay Ship & Yacht Company) as a result of the river and port being too small to construct the pre-eminent 1,000 foot freighters. (Seeing)
  • 2008: A new shipyard, ACE Marine, is established in Green Bay.  It is an all-aluminum shipbuilder and the builder of the Response Boat Medium for the United States Coast Guard. (Total Marine Solutions)



Dictionary of Wisconsin's History. n.d. Wisconsin Historical Society. 7 Mar. 2012 <http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/dictionary/index.asp?action=view&term_id=11565&term_type_id=3&term_type_text=things&letter=S>.

Great Lakes, Mighty Rivers. n.d. Smithsonian National Museum of American History. 8 Mar. 2012 <http://americanhistory.si.edu/onthewater/exhibition/4_2.html>.

Internationally Recognized. n.d. Marinette Marine Corporation. 8 Mar. 2012 <http://www.marinettemarine.com/>.

Pilger, Gerald. Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company History. n.d. Jim's Diodon (SS-349). 07 Mar. 2012<http://diodon349.com/Stories/Stories_SS/manitowoc_shipbuilding_company_history.htm>.

Seeing the Light. 23 Feb. 2004. Terry Pepper. 07 Mar. 2012 <http://terrypepper.com/lights/michigan/manitowocpier/manitowoc.htm>.

Total Marine Solutions. n.d. Fincantieri Marine Group. 7 Mar. 2012 <http://www.fincantierimarinegroup.com/>.