Egg Harbor. It's an unusual name and you may have wondered how
it came to be. There are many conflicting stories about the name
"Egg Harbor." Some say Egg Harbor was named by Mr.
Increase Claflin because in the process of retreiving a horseshoe
out of the harbor, he found a nest full of duck's eggs. Some say it
was named after a nest of eggs found on the shore by Door County's
first settler. Others say it received its name because
seagulls nested along the shore and one could gather a basket of
eggs from their nests.
A more appealing story is told in the Door County
Advocate of April 26, 1862. The story indicates that a
number of Mackinac boats left Green Bay to deliver furs to the
trading post on Mackinac Island. The boats stopped at the yet
unnamed harbor to rest for the night. While rowing ashore,
there was a race to see who would reach the shore first. The
village is named after a legendary egg battle that took place in
our harbor. A witness was Mrs. Elizabeth Baird, who recorded that
fateful day of June 23, 1825, in her journal.
She wrote that the battle began when men among a six-boat
trading flotilla began throwing hardtack at each other while
approaching a spot of land. This first bout ceased due to their
continuing need of the staple. Shortly thereafter the young Mrs.
Baird saw eggs flying in the air, some of which occasionally struck
her in the head. The leader tried to stop the battle, but the fun
was "too fierce to be readily given up." When they camped on that
spot of land, she wrote that a storm was brewing ... another egg
The great egg battle stopped only for want of ammunition, and
the men "laughed until exhausted." The next morning the battlefield
was so strewn with egg shells that before leaving shore, speeches
befitting the occasion were made, and the spot was formally
christened Egg Harbor.
Egg Harbor was the tenth organized town in Door County and was
established on July 9, 1861. A portion of the town organized
its own government and boundaries and incorporated as a separate
governmental unit in August, 1964. The incorporated area is
today known as the Village of Egg Harbor. There is also a Town of
The first settlers in Egg Harbor were Jacob and Levi Thorp.
They purchased land and began lumbering operations.
Their efforts included building a pier to ship their
product. Levi eventually bought Jacob out and branched the
operation to include farming and orchards. He built the
impressive Cupola House in 1871. Ownership subsequently moved to
C.A. Speaker and then to the Cady family. The Cupola House is
one of the Village landmarks located on State Highway 42 and is
listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
French Canadian families began arriving around
1865. Charles and Delia LaRouche played an important part in
organizing the first Catholic Church.
John Bertschinger, a Swiss, came to Egg Harbor in 1904. He
bought the Kewaunee House at the corner of what is now Highway 42
and County G. He enlarged, remodeled and added a dining room
to the facility which he named the "Harbor Inn." In 1912 he
sold the Harbor Inn to try other ventures in lumbering, fruit and
dairy farming. He sold the Harbor Inn to Murphy
Moore. "Murphy's" was a popular dinner stop for many
years. The building is now a drinking and eating establishment
known as "Shipwrecked." John Bertschinger eventually went back to
the hospitality business and with his brother Paul built the Alpine
Resort, which opened in 1922. Orin Glidden developed the first
9-hole golf course adjoining the resort and called it the Alpine
Golf Course. Financial difficulties forced him to sell the
course and the Bertschinger's added it to the resort in
1926. The Alpine remains one of the oldest resorts in the area
and is still owned by the Bertschinger Family.
Jerry LeMere's saloon and dance hall was located where
Casey's BBQ & Smokehouse now stands. The
LeMere's came from Canada and purchased the land in 1865.
Another early business was a saloon-hotel built by Canadian
Antone La Plant. The building burned, and was rebuilt as a
stagecoach stop called the Concord Hotel. Today it is called
The first doctor in the area, Dr. David Graham, arrived in
1858. He was an untrained medical man. After 16 years he
was joined by a young doctor, Horace Eames, who was a graduate of
the medical school of Valparaiso University in Indiana.
"Doc" Eames remained in the Egg Harbor community for the rest of
his life. Besides medicine, he farmed and was well known for
his large orchards of cherries and apples. He was also trained
as a chemist and provided prescriptions for his patients. He
made home visits with his horse and buggy or sleigh in every kind
of weather. His home on County E has been moved to the Cupola
Early residents of the area managed small
businesses. Harborview Park was the site of a grocery store
built in 1910 by Jim and Rose Wilson. Tom Carmody's tavern was
the site of many dances in the early years. The facility
became Lena's Sip and Chat and is now the home of John
Henry's. Woldt's Hall was also a popular spot for dances and
basketball in the 1920's.
Two churches were established in the area's early
development. St. John the Baptist Catholic Church was founded
in 1876. The church was located on the corner of Hillside Road and
Highway 42. Early in the new century some parishioners wanted
to build a new church at a different location. The controversy
ended with the gift of land from Charles and Delia LaRouche in
1901, and the new church was built on Highway 42 and School Road in
1909. Calvary United Methodist Church was organized in 1912
as the Egg Harbor Union Society. The early stone church was
completed in 1924. The building is used for special
events. A larger church was built and dedicated in
1965. Both are near the intersection of County E and Highway
The decades of the 1950's and 1960's were a time of growth in
business and building. The Village included a drugstore,
grocery store, saloons, restaurants, a hardware store, a thriving
feed mill, car dealership, gas station/garage and a two-room school
on the border. However, as the community changed, the make-up
of the Village also changed. More residents became seasonal
and businesses began to adjust by providing "summer only" stores
and shops. The school eventually joined others in the county
and consolidated into the Gibraltar Area School District.
The Egg Harbor Fire Department is a cooperative venture of the
Town and the Village of Egg Harbor. It was established in the early
1930's with Lee Adams as the first fire chief. First
Responders were initially trained in 1979-80 and remain some of the
best in Door County.
Traditions grew quickly. The Pumpkin Patch celebration
first began in October 1984. Blossoms throughout the area have
made it a delight to visit in the spring and the first Blossom
Festival was held in 1993. In winter, the village displays
holiday decorations and has now developed Holly Days.
Historic Driving Tour Brochure |
Historic Walking Tour
Brochure | Egg Harbor
Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XIV,
p. 396 of Holand, History of Door County, Wisconsin,
Thomas, Bruce. Door County: Wisconsin's peninsular
jewel. Printed by Sells Printing Company, New Berlin,
Door County Advocate, April 26, 1862; June 14, 1939;
Martin, Charles I. History of Door County,
Wisconsin. Expositor Job Print, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin,
Lotz, Marvin. Discovering Door County's Past, Holly
House, Fish Creek, Wisconsin, 1994.
Egg Harbor Village Records.
St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 1976-1986