James D. Moore III

Return to the Stone Age: The Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin's Dolomite Industry.

(Under the direction of Annalies Corbin) Department of History, December 2003.

This thesis explains that the city of Sturgeon Bay, located in Door County, Wisconsin, is economically rooted in the maritime-based stone trade, and this community may not have survived if it had not depended on its naturally abundant quantities of dolomitic limestone. Through the accumulation of historical and archaeological data, this work also presents the first comprehensive analysis of Sturgeon Bay's stone industry. The stone trade was financially profitable for the city of Sturgeon Bay due to the implementation of innovative cost-saving measures and ingenious business practices. Dolomite quarried from Sturgeon Bay was shipped throughout Green Bay and Lake Michigan from 1880 until the 1940s, and various operational tactics, such as the evolution of extraction and loading methods, ensured that the local quarries were efficiently operational. Archaeological surveys have also revealed that Sturgeon Bay's stone companies utilized every major type of Great Lakes vessel as stone barges. By utilizing old ships as stone barges, Sturgeon Bay's quarry owners could cheaply and readily acquire vessels for stone shipments.