The Early Days

The Horseshoe Bay Name

The story begins with the naming of Horseshoe Bay. Increase Claflin, an early Door County settler, is credited with naming Horseshoe Bay. While running  a team of horses from Fish Creek to Sturgeon Bay in the 1860’s, one of the horses lost a shoe. Mr. Claflin re-shoed the horse overlooking an inlet on Green Bay and named it Horseshoe Bay.

Horseshoe Bay Settlement

Horseshoe Bay Settlement is less well known, but at one time was the ‘live spot’ on the Door County peninsula. Egg Harbor was small and Fish Creek and Ephraim were fishing hamlets. Horseshoe Bay settlement on the other hand was a busy lumbering camp.

A.J. Andersen built a fine home there. The Bay was alive with schooners and steamers that docked at Mr. Andersen’s pier  on Horseshoe Bay, and payday night in Horseshoe Bay settlement was something to be remembered.

Around 1870, Andrew Andersen built a pier south of Murphy Park. The purpose was to ship cordwood. He established a saw mill, opened a general store, a blacksmith shop and a coopers shop nearby.

The coopers sold their barrels to local fisherman who used them to pack their salted fish, which were shipped to larger cities around the Midwest. Horseshoe Bay also became known as Cooperstown.

The sawmill was sold to the Hamilton Company who added an ice business to keep the employees busy during the winter. The community expanded and boasted a school house, post office and about  a dozen homes. About 60 men were employed in the business. The sawmill business lessened over time and in 1890 the ice business closed and Cooperstown soon became a ghost town.