Wisconsin Marine History

  • 1800’s: Shipping made invaluable contributionsto the development of 19th century Wisconsin, bringing people,goods, and other products to the frontier.(Dictionary)
  • 1830’s: Milwaukee and Manitowoc were home tothe first shipyards in Wisconsin, opening in the mid 1830’s.(Dictionary)
  • 1847: The first wooden sailing ship built inManitowoc was launched and the tradition of shipbuilding was born.(Seeing)
  • Mid-1800s: People streaming into theMidwest-and the grain, lumber, and iron pouring out-created amaritime industry across the Great Lakes. Fleets of ships servedindustries around the lakes and helped create thriving port cities,such as Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Chicago. (GreatLakes)
  • 1863: The Burger Boat Company was established,primarily constructing 20 foot to 30 foot Mackinaw fishing boatsfor local commercial fisherman. The yard moved to buildingwooden sailing ships (schooners) and in 1901 moved to buildingmotor launches.
  • By 1900: More than 200 schooners, tugs andsteamers 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 inbuilding Great Lakes vessels back to 1918. (Total MarineSolutions)
  • 1939-1945: During the Second World War, underthe name of Sturgeon Bay Boat Works, Palmer Johnson created overforty 45 foot air-sea rescue boats and four 65 foot “T” classfreighters. In 1956, the company was officially named PalmerJohnson Yachts.
  • 1940: The relationship of Submarines to theManitowoc Shipyard began in 1940 when the Navy Dept. contacted theManitowoc Shipbuilding Co. for construction of 10 Submarines of theGato Class. The contract was later expanded to 41 submarines,of which 28 were completed before World War II drew to a successfulclose. (Pilger)
  • 1942: Marinette Marine Corporation was foundedalong the Menominee River in Marinette, Wisconsin to meet America’sgrowing demand for naval construction. From humble beginnings witha contract to build five wooden barges, MMC has grown into aworld-class shipbuilder, having designed and built more than 1,500vessels. (Internationally Recognized)
  • 1954-1956: The humble beginnings of CarverYachts began in a Milwaukee garage by Charlie Carter and GeorgeVerhagan building mahogany-planked high speed runabouts in1954. They were so successful selling to their friends thatin 1956 they moved to Pulaski to turn their hobby into abusiness.
  • 1970: Manitowoc remained the center ofshipbuilding in Wisconsin until 1970, when its largest shipbuildermoved to Sturgeon Bay (now known as Bay Ship & Yacht Company)as a result of the river and port being too small to construct thepre-eminent 1,000 foot freighters. (Seeing)
  • 2008: A new shipyard, ACE Marine, isestablished in Green Bay. It is an all-aluminum shipbuilderand the builder of the Response Boat Medium for the United StatesCoast Guard. (Total Marine Solutions)

– Dictionary of Wisconsin’s History. n.d. WisconsinHistorical 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