Why This Cursed Part of Lake Michigan is Known as “Death’s Door”
Enter at your own risk!
As the Halloween season is upon us I'm itching to uncover some of the more bizarre and lesser known urban legends that circulate throughout the state. Sure, we've heard of the Michigan Dogman and the Paulding Light, but what about "Death's Door"?
Not to be confused with the legend of the Lake Michigan Triangle, our version of the infamous Bermuda Triangle, the narrow passage known as Death's Door is situated between the tip of the Wisconsin peninsula and Plum Island in the waters of Lake Michigan-- and is equally as shrouded in mystery!
The dangerous yet necessary passage was once one of the only ways to connect the trading post in Green Bay to the rest of the Great Lakes; originally known as "Porte des Morts", how did this passage acquire such an ominous name?
Some Say It Was Rival Tribes
A group of Potawatomi warriors had set out to attack the Winnebago on the mainland. Meanwhile, a group from the Winnebago tribe had been sent out to attack the Potawatomi who lived on the islands. Although the waters were calm when the two tribes set sail the weather quickly turned. Canoes capsized, warriors were trapped on the rocky shores of Ellison Bay, and many Winnebago warriors were never seen again. According to Door County, "In all, hundreds of warriors died, giving the thin stretch of water its name."
Or the French Explorers
Some historical accounts claim it was the French explorers of the 1700s who dubbed the narrow strait "Porte des Morts" upon hearing the natives' tales of sailing the treacherous passage themselves. Others believe the French gave the strait an ominous name to discourage British fur traders from using it, as it was the only way to get to present-day Green Bay-- smart!
But How Deadly Is It, Really?
With over 275 shipwrecks located in the waters of Door County, you won't find me splashing around there any time soon! However, officials who live there say that while,
...Known for taking lives and many vessels, it’s a wonder why the waters dubbed “Death’s Door” remain such a popular maritime passageway. While traveling through this area does present its own challenges for boaters, the tragic stories of shipwrecks are now more the stuff of legends than reality.
Will you be passing through Death's Door any time soon?