The Peninsula we know today began with a March 1969 National Geographic article.
By Larry Majewski
When Ted Rozumalski photographed something in the 1960s, it was usually a significant occasion. Rozumalski and his Leica camera were in the motorcade during the JFK assassination, saw Martin Luther King speak, and chronicled the LBJ administration. His historic pictures graced the pages of Time, Life, and Newsweek. And, when the National Geographic of March 1969 published a feature entitled ‘Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula, A Kingdom So Delicious,’ it was largely Rozumalski’s images that gave gravity to the entire piece.
Sleepy, idyllic Door County was suddenly thrust onto the national stage by one of the leading publications of the time. The effects of that 26-page article on tourism and Door County’s hospitality industry were massive and permanent. Hotels and condos were built. A highway was created. Goats were put on a roof.
Re-reading “A Kingdom So Delicious” reveals a Door County familiar to today’s visitor: camping, hiking, fishing, ship building, cherry harvests, boating, ice fishing, bed & breakfasts, artists, and Packer fandom. The family names featured in the article are still abundant.
While the content is recognizable, the scale of the operation necessary to publish it is certainly not. National Geographic conceived it two full years before publication. Rozumalski shot in Door County for weeks at a time over an 18-month period in 1967 and 1968, generating thousands of images on film, of which only a handful were used. This time-intensive strategy would be too inefficient to pass muster in our modern era.
Luckily for us, 250 outtakes still survive in the archives of the Ted Rozumalski estate, a handful of which we are pleased to show here, courtesy of his son Robert. They offer a peek into Door County’s past, which still appears…oh so familiar.