Transportation and Numismatics in Door County

Door County was the last county in Wisconsin to have railroad service. It was also the first to lose it. The Ahnapee & Western Railway opened in 1890 and had its last run in March 1986. It connected the Lake Michigan cities of Sturgeon Bay, Algoma and Kewaunee with the rest of the world meeting the Kewaunee, Green Bay & Western tracks at Casco Junction.

Passenger service ceased in 1937 (except for transporting German prisoners of war in WWII to work the orchards). Freight service declined as trucking became more economical. The bridge in Sturgeon Bay was condemned in 1968 and service there ended the next year. By this time the Algoma line served only Algoma Plywood and was down to two cars per day. Service ceased altogether when the Kewaunee River bridge washed out in 1986 and was not rebuilt.

The tracks were removed and the corridor became the Ahnapee State Trail.

The bond pictured above was printed by the American Bank Note Company and issued in 1906. Although it was intended as a thirty-year bond, it was not redeemed until 1942. The central vignette is a stock image used by ABNC and is not a representation of any portion of the railway’s tracks.

A stock certificate for one share of the Ahnapee & Western Railway issued to Homer E. McGee. McGee was president of the Green Bay & Western, the parent company of the Ahnapee & Western in 1934.

In Sturgeon Bay, the Ahnapee & Western crossed the bay on the toll bridge that had been built in 1887 by the Sturgeon Bay Bridge Company. The Bridge Company had a twenty-five year charter to operate the bridge. The tokens above were used for tolls on the bridge. The aluminum token on top was replaced by the brass token. Tokens in denominations of ten and fifteen cents are also known to exist but are very scarce. Paper chits were also used for the bridge. The representation of the bridge on the tokens is a simplified version of the span of the swing bridge in Sturgeon Bay.

The final pieces of Door County transportation numismatics are these two tokens for the Sturgeon Bay Transit Company. The brass token on top is for a child’s fare and the cupro-nickel token on bottom is an adult fare. The Transit Company was founded in 1943 to serve the expanded labor force that came to Sturgeon Bay to work in the shipyards for the war effort. It ceased operation in 1953.

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