The Port of Sheboygan is the seat of Sheboygan County, Michigan. The Port of Sheboygan is located on the shores of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Sheboygan River. It is part of the Lake Michigan and Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Seaway Waterway systems. The Port of Sheboygan is about 50 nautical miles (82 kilometers or 51 miles north-northeast of the Port of Milwaukee and about 128 nautical miles (229 kilometers or 142 miles) north of the Port of Chicago. The 2010 US Census reported a population of almost 49.3 thousand people in the City and 115.5 thousand in the Port of Sheboygan metropolitan area.
The Port of Sheboygan was at one time a busy shipping port. Today, it is an industrial center with diverse manufacturers that make things like furniture, household equipment, plastics, automotive parts, air compressors, metal products, and paper and wood products. The Port of Sheboygan is also well known for its cheese and bratwurst.
The Potawatomi people inhabited the area before it became the Port of Sheboygan. They were part of the Council of Three Fires alliance that also included the Ojibwe and Ottawa. The first Europeans to arrive in the area were French explorers Jean Nicolet in 1635 and Joliet and Marquette in 1643. Many years later, Father St. Cosme came to a Pottawatomi village on the Sheboygan River.
The Potawatomi fought for the British and the Americans in Tecumseh's War, the War of 1812, and the Peoria War, their allegiances shifting depending on politics. In the late 1820s, they signed treaties that started their removal to reservations. The reservations shrank as settlers continued to enter the territory. The Treaty of Chicago in 1833 began their forced removal west of the Mississippi River. Despite this, many Potawatomi remained in Michigan or fled to Canada. There are several active bands of the Potawatomi Nation in the United States and Canada today, particularly in Michigan.
William Farnsworth first landed at the site of the future Port of Sheboygan in 1814, and he returned in 1818 to establish a fur trading post. In 1822, Colonel Oliver Crocker joined him and built two log cabins and a small sawmill. More settlers began to arrive in the Port of Sheboygan area in 1830s.
In 1845, the first schooner, the Pilot, was built in the infant Port of Sheboygan. The Village of Sheboygan was incorporated the next year, and the city was chartered officially in 1953. The early Port of Sheboygan was known for its large German community. In its early years, most people and supplies arrived in the Port of Sheboygan by boat. In 1856, construction of the Sheboygan/Mississippi Railroad started, and a land mail route was established in 1858. By 1860, there were 4271 residents in the Port of Sheboygan.
The Port of Sheboygan's growth continued in from the 1860s to the 1880s. Schooners and ships brought people and cargo to the city. The harbor was dredged, and docks were constructed. Gas lights came to the Port of Sheboygan in 1872. By 1877, there were 49 licensed saloons in the Port of Sheboygan. In 1882, a smallpox epidemic invaded the Port of Sheboygan, and citizens were forced to get vaccinations.
In 1887, the Port of Sheboygan launched the Helena, its largest ship, at the Reibolt and Wolters shipyards. Electric street cars replaced horse-drawn carriages in 1895. In 1900, a fire destroyed the C. Reiss Coal Company's Dock No. 1.
The Port of Sheboygan continued to grow in the early 20th Century. A typhoid fever epidemic struck the Port of Sheboygan in 1907, and the city water works started operating in 1909. The Port of Sheboygan police department started using automobiles in 1915. By 1931, there were almost 122 kilometers (76 miles) of paved roads. In 1939, buses replaced the earlier street cars.
Despite the decline in nearby fisheries, four commercial fishing companies still operate from the Port of Sheboygan. The city's immigrant heritage continues, with vital Hispanic and Hmong communities now complementing the established German community.