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Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal facts for kids

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Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal
The Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal highlighted on a 1997 NOAA chart. The dredged channel is in red; the canal itself is in yellow.

The Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal is a shipping canal connecting Sturgeon Bay on Green Bay with Lake Michigan, across the Door Peninsula, at the city of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, United States. The canal allows shipping to transit directly from Lake Michigan to Green Bay, avoiding the dangerous Porte des Morts strait. The canal is approximately 1.3 miles in length, dug through the eastern side of the Door Peninsula in a northwest to southeast orientation. There are no locks. At its northwestern end, it connects to a dredged channel in Sturgeon Bay which in turn leads to Green Bay. The canal was dug by a private group headed by then-president of Chicago and North Western Railway, William B. Ogden, between July 8, 1872 and the late fall of 1881. Although smaller craft began using the canal in 1880, it was not open for large-scale watercraft until 1890.

The cost of completing the 1.3 mile cut in 1881 was $291,461.69.

In 1893, the Ogden private investors group sold all interest in the canal to the United States government. Since that time, the canal has been maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The original canal was 100 feet (30 m) wide and 6 feet (1.8 m) deep. As of May 2016, the canal was 125 feet (38 m) wide and 20 feet (6.1 m) deep. A jetty extends into Lake Michigan 1,350 feet (410 m) and 800 feet (240 m) wide at the mouth.

Several famous lighthouses mark the course of the canal and channel, including the Sturgeon Bay Canal Lighthouse at the eastern entrance on the northern side of the canal (approximately 230 feet from Lake Michigan) next to the Coast Guard Station Sturgeon Bay; the Sturgeon Bay Canal North Pierhead Light on the Lake Michigan coastline; and the Sherwood Point Lighthouse in Idlewild, on the far western end, on the southern shore of the outer edge of Sturgeon Bay.


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