Learning About Nature Is Fun With The Art & Nature Center's Scavenger Hunt

The Washington Island Art & Nature Center has teamed up with the Washington Island App to create a Scavenger Hunt for a fun adventure learning about nature on Washington Island.

For over 50 years, the ANC has been dedicated to the promotion of creative arts and natural history of Washington Island. Although the ANC provides a terrific opportunity for children and adults to interact and learn on-site with displays, insects and animals, along with hikes and classes and even a bee hive, they are always looking for more ways to reach out to the community and visitors. 


The app provides a way to make it fun for the whole family. With an activity sheet available at the ANC, kids can check off what they see and answer questions. The app provides a map of the sites, with detailed information and photos and even a “Did You Know?” section for extra details and fun facts.



To get started, download the Washington Island App (www.washingtonislandapp.com), available on iTunes and GooglePlay, and check out the Explore section. This is where you will find the Art & Nature Center Scavenger Hunt. Stop by the ANC and pick up your Activity Sheet when you are ready to get started. Take your time exploring these sites and when you are done, bring your finished sheet back to the ANC to receive your badge of completion. You will also be entered into a drawing to win a prize!

Don’t forget to check back to the Scavenger Hunt as more sites will be added.

Have fun!

The Schooner "George Washington" And The Story Of Our Naming 200 Years Ago

A shift in navigation by the schooner "George Washington" in 1816 on the way to take reinforcements to establish Fort Howard in Green Bay would change the name of the northernmost harbor as well as this Island.

Early inhabitants to Washington Island and visitors had previously given their own name to this special place, such as Huron Island, Potawatomi Island, Isle de Poux by the French and the most poetic, Wassekiganeso.

After the Treaty of Ghent was signed and the War of 1812 was over, the Great Lakes were opened up to American expansion and trade. The merchant ships being built at this time were mainly two masted schooners about 70 feet in length and 100 tons register. The schooner "George Washington" was known as the largest of the fleet, but not many more details are known.

Artist Portrayal of the schooner "George Washington" by Patricia Cauldwell

Artist Portrayal of the schooner "George Washington" by Patricia Cauldwell

At this time, sightings of Indian bands were few but the visitors to this area proceeded with caution. The ship anchored in the harbor and sent scouts to determine threats and the crew was allowed to go ashore, staying for three days. Upon leaving, the name of Washington was added to the harbor and the Island.

Several of the ships crew have left their impressions and stories of their voyage but one of the most colorful was the Captain of the ship, Daniel Dobbins.


Captain Daniel Dobbins was known to have a "lordly, imperious disposition" and as an experienced sailor, was involved in many narrow escapes before being captured by the British during the war of 1812. He managed to escape, was taken prisoner again and eventually made his way to Washington, where he reported the surrender of Fort Michilimackinac and Detroit to President Madison. Madison knew the way to secure victory was to control the lakes, and he commissioned Dobbins to take preliminary charge of building a naval fleet.

Artist portrayal of Captain Daniel Dobbins by Patricia Cauldwell

Artist portrayal of Captain Daniel Dobbins by Patricia Cauldwell

In 1829 he became captain of the US Revenue Cutter Service which is known today as the US Coast Guard and retired in 1849.

He was credited during this time with helping slaves on their journey to freedom through the Underground Railroad.

Wikipedia: Daniel Dobbins
"The Naming" by Conan Bryant Eaton

Check out Harbor Tales, Washington Island Through The 1800's by Patricia Cauldwell for an illustrated collection of mini-stories and Island folklore in the early days of Washington Island.

Download the Washinton Island App on iTunes and GooglePlay!



Den Norske Grenda (Little Norwegian Village) on Washington Island

As you travel down Main Road on Washington Island, you will notice a small grouping of buildings with some very distinct features. When you've reached the grassy roofs, notice the detailed carvings on the posts, and possibly a Gnome, you've reached Den Norske Grenda, or Little Norwegian Village at Mann's Mercantile Shops.


Brought over from Telemark, Norway in 1989, these log buildings were built and assembled with the help of three Norwegians, to establish a building complex that represented the heritage of Washington Island's Scandinavian immigrants.

The fine craftsmanship of the Norwegian carvers is shown in the intricate details of the posts and trim on these buildings. Wood carving has been a popular hobby and lifetime work of many Norwegians for centuries.


A stabbur traditionally consists of a main, cube shaped room for storing food, which was usually grain. On top of that is a slightly larger room used for more storage of food, usually fruits and vegetables as well as furniture, spare living quarters, or for smoking meat. It placed upon pedestals to deter pests.

Stabbur in Figjan, Numedal, Norway.

Stabbur in Figjan, Numedal, Norway.


Be on the lookout for Gnomes, the mythical creatures of Scandinavian folklore. Also known as Tomte, or Nisse, they are generally described as being no taller than three feet, having a long white beard, and wearing a conical or knit cap in red or some other bright color, according to Wikipedia. It is also said, the Tomte / Nisse live in the houses and barns of the farmstead, and secretly act as their guardian. If treated well, they protect the family and animals from evil and misfortune, and may also aid the chores and farm work. 

photo credit: Mann's Mercantile

photo credit: Mann's Mercantile

Don't forget to stop off and get a pic with your family and friends!

Download the Washington Island App on iTunes or GooglePlay today!

Getting To Washington Island Is Part Of The Fun

Door County’s best kept secret lies 5 miles off the tip of the peninsula...and getting here is part of the fun!


Since 1940, Washington Island has relied on the dedicated service of the Washington Island Ferry for safe, year-round ferry-service. Breaking through the ice in the winter, a slow cruise through the night on a Friday Night Boat, or basking in the sun on the top deck on a glorious summer day, this approx. 30 minute ride will transport you “North of the Tension Line” in many ways.

The treasure lies across what is known as Portes des Mortes, or Death’s Door, a passage where the waters of Lake Michigan and Green Bay meet.

Legend has it, Death’s Door was named for it’s treacherous waters by the French for all the close calls, catastrophes and steep bluffs and shoals. One well-known tale is of a group of Indians who were resting near the bluff when strong waves washed them in the water. As they attempted to climb to safety, they were attacked with tomahawks from an enemy tribe. Storytellers have their own version of these myths which continue to fascinate us to this day.



Once you get here, it’s up to you what to do. There is an abundance of natural beauty, cultural and historical sites, beaches, restaurants, and more. Take a tour, bring your bikes or car, and enjoy … you are now “North of the Tension Line!”