Racine's Maritime History
In the beginning.....
Swamp and marsh land covered an area south of the main channel to present day 2nd Street.
There was a 30 foot bluff along the south bank of the river that extended south to 3rd Street.
When the wind blew from the north a sandbar formed at the mouth of the river and at times caused water to fill the lowlands area back to 6th Street
Due to the narrow and shallow inlet, boats had to anchor off shore. Smaller boats were then used to ferry passengers and cargo further up river.
In 1836 Racine realized that a wider and deeper inlet was needed. The U.S. Engineers drew up plans for moving the mouth of the river to its present day location with the anticipation that Federal money would be received to complete the project.
For a larger view of the map, click here.
The appropriation bill was passed by the House, but rejected by the Senate and the funds were given to Chicago for waterfront improvements.
Through donations, subscriptions, taxes, and loans Racine County residents raised the money to complete a portion of the project on their own. The final loan to complete work they could was the first public bonding in Racine County.
Through the efforts of General Henry Dodge, Federal money was secured for completing the piers and dredging of the harbor channel.
In July of 1844, the first lake streamer, the Chesapeake, entered and docked at the Racine harbor.
Racine's harbor was the first artificial harbor in Wisconsin.
Research by R.A. Jaeck
Racine Daily News