Carlsville is an inland village between Sturgeon Bay and Egg Harbor, and the location of one of Door County’s fine wineries, producing 30 wines from 5,500 vines available for harvest. The villages of Valmy and Institute are nearby. Clustered along Highway 42 halfway between Sturgeon Bay and Egg Harbor, the tiny community of has been small in size but big in spirit throughout the past century and a half.
When Door County was being settled, it was unusual for a community to develop inland, away from the lake or the bay, but that's just what this unincorporated community did. A nameless crossroads community, it consisted in the late 1860s of a cheese factory, a school, and a general store. A blacksmith shop and a combination saloon and dance hall were added to the business mix later. The first settlers in the community were of Irish descent, but they were soon outnumbered by people of German heritage. It was these new settlers who gave the town its name. Karlsville was named for the relatively high number of men in the community with the first name Karl - as many as six at one point, according to historian M. Marvin Lotz. The name was later Anglicized to Carlsville.
At one point, the Carlsville area also boasted a small lake which was located in a low area about three miles north of today's cluster of businesses. Depending on rain, this small lake could at times be as deep as six feet in some places, and a livery that rented boats and canoes was located there. The lake disappeared about the same time as the dynamiting for construction of Highway 42 in the area began. "There are those who believe that the blasting opened up underground caverns that allowed the water to escape. There were reports of a slow swirling of the lake's water as it drained away," Lotz reports in his history of the county.
Today, the 10 businesses that make up the Carlsville community band together in the summer to bolster business and pride in Carlsville. Carlsville Days, which is held in mid to late July, features tours of both the local winery and the dairy farm/ice cream parlor, as well as food, live music, games for kids, a parade, a doggie contest, and more than 40 vendors displaying arts and crafts. Carlsville may be small in size, but it's large in pride and spirit.
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