WHO WE ARE
Washington Island is a year round Island community located approximately 5 miles off the northeast tip of the Door Peninsula in Door County, Wisconsin. The Town of Washington, includes five other Islands in this watery neighborhood. They include: Plum Island, Detroit Island, Hog Island, Pilot Island and Rock Island, a 900 acre island and Wisconsin’s only State Park on an island.
Washington Island is the largest of the thirty islands in Door County, Wisconsin. With a land mass of approximately 35 square miles, Washington Island is the only island community with a year round resident population and its’ own economy. The community has over 100 miles of paved roads. Visitors are advised to bring their vehicles for transportation on the Island. The local economy is comprised of several industries including hospitality, retail, construction, farming, logging and commercial fishing. As a popular retreat for visitors since the late 1800’s, many descendants still call Washington Island their summer home and tourism is the largest industry on Washington Island.
The Town of Washington was established on June 20, 1850. The local government is classified as a Town under Chapter 60 of the Wisconsin State Statutes. The year round population of Washington Island is approximately 718 ; with seasonal residents the population increases to approximately 1600.
The Potowatomi Indians were the first known residents of this Island grouping in Lake Michigan. They were here to greet the first immigrants who came from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Finland and Ireland. Washington Island is the second largest Icelandic community in North America. The Washington Island Archives, collects, stores and provides information on early settlers from as early as the 1850’s and ancestors who arrived and settled here in the early 1850’s.
Rock Island is home to the first United States commissioned Lighthouse (The Potowatomi Lighthouse) on Lake Michigan. The Lighthouse is open for public tours from May to October. It has been completely refurbished thanks to the efforts of the Friends of Rock Island, a non profit group. Access to Rock Island is via the Rock Island Ferry (the Karfi – click on “Ferry Schedules” for info) which is docked at Jackson Harbor on Washington Island from May to October. You will find additional information on the “Rock Island” heading on this website.
WASHINGTON ISLAND TODAY
Washington Island is a self contained community and includes the smallest public school district in the State of Wisconsin with grades K – 12. The Community Center building includes the Town Office providing governmental services, Medical Clinic, Dentist and Optometrist offices. It also houses the Washington Island Library which is a branch operating under the auspices of the Door County Library system.
The Town Shop handles physical plant maintenance for town buildings, land, parks, roads, public docks and airport. The community is also serviced by Fire, Rescue and Police Departments (911 service). Waste management services are provided by the Town Landfill which handles trash disposal and recycling while the Utility District addresses domestic and commercial sewage. The Washington Island Electric Co-op oversees routine and emergency power to the community residents and business owners.
The Washington Island community provides a comprehensive list of business services (see Business Directory) for Island residents and visitors. This includes grocery, gas stations, lumber yard, hardware and marinas (see Business Directory section). Retail shops, restaurants, lodging as well as cultural and historical organizations and their operations are also listed in the Directory. The Mosling Recreation Center, a gift to the Island Community from John and Jane Mosling, contains indoor swimming pool, exercise room, meeting room, outdoor tennis courts and provides classes in a variety of areas of interest for all ages and sponsors the “Rec Run”, a 10K run, 5K and 2 K walk/run annually each July. Visitors are encouraged to obtain “Day Passes” available at the Rec Center office.
The Washington Island Chamber of Commerce (WICC) is dedicated to providing services to visitors for over 70 years. It is one of the oldest chambers/business associations in Door County, Wisconsin. The WICC staffs the Island’s Welcome Center and the Northport Information booth which provides assitance and information to visitors. Help is available any time of year to answer your Island related questions. Please contact us for your Washington Island brochure and help with your travel plans!