Wisconsin Marine HISTORY


Shipping made invaluable contributions to the development of 19th century Wisconsin, bringing people, goods, and other products to the frontier. (Dictionary)


Milwaukee and Manitowoc were home to the first Wisconsin shipyards, opening in the mid 1830's. (Dictionary)


The first wooden sailing ship built in Manitowoc was launched. The tradition of shipbuilding was born! (Seeing)


People streamed into the Midwest. Grain, lumber, and iron poured out and created thriving maritime cities such as Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Chicago. (Great Lakes)


The Burger Boat Company was established, primarily constructing 20 to 30 foot Mackinaw fishing boats for local fishermen. They eventually started building wooden sailing ships called schooners.


More than 200 schooners, tugs, and steamers had been built in the Manitowoc shipyards. (Seeing) In 1901, Burger Boat Company began building motor launches.


Thompson Boats was founded in Peshtigo, Wisconsin and would later be called Cruisers Yachts.


Bay Shipbuilding traces its roots regarding the building of Great Lakes vessels back to 1918. (Total Marine Solutions)

1939 - 1945

During World War II, under the name of Sturgeon Bay Boat Works, Palmer Johnson created over forty 45' air-sea rescue boats and four 65' "T" class freighters


The Navy contacted the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co. for construction of ten Gato Class Submarines. The contract was later expanded to 41 submarines, of which 28 were completed before World War II drew to a successful close. (Pilger)


Marinette Marine Corporation was founded along the Menominee River in Marinette, Wisconsin. From humble beginnings with a contract to build five wooden barges, MMC has grown into a world-class shipbuilder. (Internationally Recognized)

1954 - 1956

The humble beginnings of Carver Yachts began in a Milwaukee garage by Charlie Carter and George Verhagan. They built mahogany-planked high speed runabouts. In 1956 they moved to Pulaski, WI to turn their hobby into a business.


Manitowoc remained the center of Wisconsin shipbuilding until 1970. That is when Bay Ship & Yacht Company moved to Sturgeon Bay, as a result of the river and port being too small to construct the preeminent 1,000' freighters. (Seeing)


A new shipyard, ACE Marine, is established in Green Bay, WI. As an all aluminum shipbuilder, they build Response Boats for the United States Coast Guard. (Total Marine Solutions)


* Dictionary of Wisconsin’s History. n.d. Wisconsin Historical Society. 7 Mar. 2012

* Great Lakes, Mighty Rivers. n.d. Smithsonian NationalMuseum of American History. 8 Mar. 2012 https://americanhistory.si.edu/onthewater/exhibition/4_2.html 

* Internationally Recognized. n.d. Marinette MarineCorporation. 8 Mar. 2012 – https://fincantierimarinettemarine.com/ 

* Pilger, Gerald. Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company History.n.d. Jim’s Diodon (SS-349). 07 Mar.2012

* 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