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Green Bay/Door County
Death's Door Passage
Shoreline Charters & Resort
Open to Public:
Pilot Island is located east of Northport at the tip of the Door Peninsula, approximately two miles from an area known as the Porte des Morts or Death's Door. This area is particularly dangerous with numerous shoals to the south. Strategically located on the eastern edge of the Door passage, the landmark Pilot Island received its name because it was used by early sailors as a pilot to navigate this tricky passage. The cream brick lighthouse was built in 1858 and was occupied by a keeper until 1862 when the light was automated. (Wisconsin Lighthouses Ken and Barb Wardius) By some accounts, Pilot Island holds the record for witnessing the most shipwrecks of any Great Lakes Lighthouse. Three wrecked schooners lying just off Pilot Island have been documented by the Wisconsin Historical Society and are featured on the Maritime Trails Historic Marker at the Northport Ferry Terminal. Although still an active aid to navigation, the lighthouse today is boarded up and the island is currently home to hundreds of cormorants and seagulls. The birds' droppings covering the island make it impossible to visit the lighthouse, however, it can be see from the Washington Island Ferry, which departs daily from Northport. You can also contact Shoreline Charters in Gills Rock to arrange a boat trip to view Pilot Island and other northern Door County lighthouses and shipwrecks.