Door County is named after the strait between the Door Peninsula and Washington Island. The dangerous passage, known as Death’s Door, contains shipwrecks and was known to Native Americans and early French explorers.
The county was created in 1851 and organized in 1861. Door County is a popular Upper Midwest vacation destination. It is home to a small Walloon population.
Native Americans and French
Door Peninsula & Potawatomi and Menominee Indian Tribes
Porte des Morts Legend
Door County’s name came from Porte des Morts (“Death’s Door”), the passage between the tip of Door Peninsula and Washington Island. The name “Death’s Door” came from Native American tales, heard by early French explorers and published in greatly embellished form by Hjalmar Holand, which described a failed raid by the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) tribe to capture Washington Island from the rival Pottawatomi tribe in the early 1600s. It has become associated with shipwrecks within the passage. The earliest known written reference to the legend is from Emmanuel Crespel, who termed the peninsula “Cap a la Mort” in 1728.