The Port of Marinette is located on the shores of Green Bay off Lake Michigan in northeast Wisconsin. The Port of Marinette is part of the Lake Michigan and Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Seaway waterway systems. The Port of Marinette is just over three nautical miles (1.7 kilometers or one mile) southwest of the Port of Menominee and about 203 nautical miles (232 kilometers or 144 miles) north-northeast of the Port of Milwaukee. The 2010 US Census reported a population of almost 11 thousand people in the Port of Marinette.
Port of Marinette is located at the mouth of the Menominee River on Green Bay. The seat of Menominee County, the Port of Marinette has a long history of logging. Today's major industries in the Port of Marinette include the manufacturers of automotive parts, paper products, metal products, fire-fighting equipment, and fire extinguishers. Shipbuilding is important to the local Port of Marinette economy, and tourism is also an important sector.
The Minominee people inhabited the area that would be home to the Port of Marinette as long as ten thousand years ago. These Algonquian-speaking Eastern Woodlands tribe descended from the Old Copper Culture. Their livelihood was based on the wild rice and sturgeon that were abundant in the region.
When French explorer Jean Nicolet arrived in Green Bay and the future Port of Marinette area in 1634, the Minominee, Winnebago, and a band of Potawatomi were there to meet him. Nicolet believed he was in China, and he dressed in a Chinese silk robe and fired his pistols from his canoe. From Nicolet's visit until the early 19th Century, the Port of Marinette area was visited by European fur traders and missionaries who used the Green Bay and Menominee River water routes.
In 1814, the Minominee fought with the British and Canadians in repelling a United States assault during the Battle of Mackinac Island to the northeast of the Port of Marinette. From 1821 until 1848, the Minominee signed seven treaties that ceded their lands to the United States. They were then moved to the current reservation. At that time, there were about 500 Minominee men living in villages scattered around the future Port of Marinette region.
In the 1940s, the US Government attempted to terminate the tribe's status and dissolve the reservation. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) determined that the tribe was economically self-sufficient based on their timber industry. In 1954, the Congress passed a law phasing out the reservation, transferring the land to the tribe's Menominee Enterprises corporation.
After the transfer, the standard of living for the Minominee fell dramatically as the tribe's businesses were unable to provide basic services. In 1973, tribal status and the reservation were restored when President Richard Nixon signed the bill. Located about about 80 kilometers (50 miles) west-southwest of the Port of Marinette, the 95 thousand hectare Minominee reservation covers almost all of Menominee County.
The first European settler on the Menominee River, Stanislaus Chappu, was a fur trader from Canada who operated a trading post at the site of the Port of Marinette from 1794 until 1824. In 1822, fur trader William Farnsworth drove Chappu from the trading post with the help of Chippewa Indians. Farnsworth and his wife, a Native American named Marinette, operated the trading post. While Farnsworth engaged in other interest, Marinette managed the fur trading business at what would become the Port of Marinette.
With Charles Brush, William Farnsworth built the industry that would fuel growth in the Port of Marinette for the next 50 years. In 1832, they built a water-powered sawmill at what is today the Port of Marinette's North Raymond Street. Over the next couple of decades, several more sawmills arose in the modern Port of Marinette. A community of boarding houses arose to provide lodging for the workers. With seemingly unlimited supplies of timber surrounding the Port of Marinette and the need for lumber to build cities like Chicago and Milwaukee, logging and lumber supported tremendous growth in the Port of Marinette.
In 1858, Isaac Stephenson came to the Port of Marinette when he bought into the North Ludington Lumber Company's sawmill. Over the latter half of the 19th Century, Stephenson was a powerhouse for the Port of Marinette, becoming town supervisor, chairman of the county board, a member of the Wisconsin legislator, a US Senator, and publisher of the Milwaukee Free Press. He owned iron mines located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and stimulated the creation of the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal. Stephenson founded the Stephenson National Bank in the Port of Marinette, donated a public library, and built the Lauerman Brothers Department Store and the Stephenson Block.
The lumber boom in the Port of Marinette peaked in the late 1800s. By the turn of the Century, the Port of Marinette was home to over 16 thousand people. The Port of Marinette was home to many sawmills and lumber-related businesses. It was the 10th biggest city in Wisconsin. The Port of Marinette had a city hall, a courthouse, an opera house, street railway, two hospitals, and many boarding houses and saloons. Major industries in the Port of Marinette included the Marinette Iron Works, M & M Paper Company, A.W. Stevens farm implement company, and the Marinette Flour Mill.
During the early 20th Century, the Port of Marinette's lumber business lost its steam. Sawmills began to close. The last log drive on the Menominee River took place in 1917, and the last sawmill in the Port of Marinette closed in 1931. However, the Port of Marinette has continued to benefit from its location on Green Bay and the Menominee River. Italian company Fincantieri owns the shipyard in the Port of Marinette. Kimberly Clark operates a paper mill in the Port of Marinette. The ThyssenKrupp Waupaca Foundry, KS Kolbenschmidt US, manufactures automotive parts. Ansul/Tyco makes fire protection systems. Part of the Samuel Pressure Vessel Group, Silvan Industries makes pressure vessels in the Port of Marinette.
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