Immigration to Ephraim, c. 1850 – c. 1880: Ephraim was founded in 1853 by a group of Norwegian Moravians led by Rev. Andreas Iverson. After the town was established, immigrants from Europe came and settled in Ephraim. While these immigrants came from all over Europe, they primarily were from Norway, Sweden, and Germany/Prussia. These hardworking immigrants built homes, stores, docks, and farms in Ephraim and the surrounding area. It is because of their self-sacrifice and determination that the tiny village of Ephraim survived during those early years. These immigrants were true pioneers on the Wisconsin frontier, and they endured on subsistence living.
Arrival of the Goodrich Line to Ephraim, 1888: To Ephraim’s residents, water was their lifeline. Travel over land was difficult and dangerous, and it was easier to travel across water or ice. Shortly after the founding of Ephraim, Rev. Iverson made an agreement with Norwegian brothers, Aslag and Halvor Anderson, and the brothers built the Anderson Dock in 1858. Ships would occasionally stop in Ephraim, which enabled Ephraim’s residents to get goods and news, but these stops were only periodic. In 1888, the Goodrich Line began making regular stops in several Door County ports, including Ephraim. It was quite a sight to see when huge ships, like the SS Carolina, would dock at Anderson Dock. The Goodrich Line went bankrupt in 1933; however, the company left a lasting impression on the identity of Ephraim. Being a regular port of call opened new opportunities for residents to trade and to travel; the Goodrich Line also brought in tourists, which had a tremendous impact on the village of Ephraim.
Rise of Tourism and Hotels in Ephraim, c. 1880 – present: With the SS Carolina and other ships making regular stops in Ephraim, people began to discover the peaceful beauty of this quiet town on the shores of Green Bay. The resulting flood of tourists had a major impact on the local economy, which had been primarily subsistence living; hotels, such as the Evergreen Beach (est. 1897) and Stonewall Cottage (est. c. 1906), and other businesses related to tourism now became the main source of income for many of Ephraim’s residents. Some visitors fell so deeply in love with the town that they purchased property and became summer residents, further adding to the heritage and identity of Ephraim. Today, Ephraim and many of its residents still rely heavily on tourism as a mainstay of the local economy.