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The graceful community of Fish Creek offers visitors the anticipated coffee-table pictorials. It may be the soul, as it were, of the county, and yet, it’s also “just” another Door County village—with a population right at 200.
Arguably the most picturesque view in the county is along WI 42 as it winds into the village from a casual bluff. The official village history describes the town’s situation succinctly—“with its back to a rock and its face to the sea.” A treasured stretch of road with a few hairpin perils, a roller-coaster gut-lifter, and suddenly you’re in a trim and tidy Victorian hamlet that could have come out of a Currier and Ives print. Fish Creek boasts the most thoroughly maintained pre-20th-century architecture on the entire peninsula, about 40 historic structures.
In 1844, trader Increase Claflin, the first non-native permanent settler in Door County, left Sturgeon Bay after a few less-than- propitious incidents with the Potawatomi and wound up here. About this time, an Eastern cooper afflicted with terminal wanderlust, Asa Thorp, made his way to Door County, searching for his fortune. With his two brothers, Thorp constructed a loading pier and began a cordwood cutting business to supply steamships plying the coast. Later, Fish Creek transformed itself into the hub of commercial fishing on the Door Peninsula. Tourism was fortuitously there to take up the slack when the steamship supply industry petered out. By the late 1890s, locals were already putting out “Tourist Home” signs. Within a decade, even the home of Asa Thorp had been transformed into the Thorp Hotel.
Boat and bike rentals are available in town at Nor Door Sport and Cyclery (4007 WI 42, 920/868-2275) near the entrance to Peninsula State Park, which is the place to get a hybrid bike, mountain bike, or a single-speed cruiser. Plenty of other equipment is also for rent. In winter, you can rent cross-country skis and even snowshoes and ice skates. At Edge of Park Bikes and Mopeds (Park Entrance Rd., 920/868-3344) your moped rental includes a state park sticker.
© Thomas Huhti from Moon Wisconsin, 5th Edition