Journeys of Discovery: Door County, Wisconsin’s Cherryland USA legacy

Aug 18, 2020

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with 87 year-old Dale Seaquist who’s great grandfather emigrated from Sweden to Door County, Wisconsin 150 years ago. Patriarch, Anders Seaquist was among the first settlers in the county to plant apple and cherry trees in the 1890s. Neighboring farmers quickly followed suit. Before long the legend of the farmers’ tangy, tart cherries became the rage nationwide and the Door County peninsula was dubbed Cherryland USA. According to Dale Seaquist, at the height of production, between the 1920s and 1960s, approximately 730 Door County peninsula growers annually shipped more than 50 million pounds of tart cherries.

Market conditions eventually depressed wholesale prices, combined with alternative land-use options, tempted most of the growers to tear out their orchards. Today, less than eight growers remain in Door County, with the Seaquist family retaining title as the largest and oldest cherry and apple producing enterprise.

Even though Door County lost their crown as America’s largest cherry producer the county remains as number one in Wisconsin. The Lautenbach Orchard Country farm has been a family affair since the 1950s, Three generations of Lautenbachs welcome vacationers who come to partake in the Lautenbach’s u-pick cherry experience and much more. Join Chris Lautenbach as he shares stories of his family’s diverse ag-tourism attractions—including the ever-popular annual cherry seed-spitting competition.

You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas Award-winning travel show podcast, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured on the NPR Podcast DirectoryApple Podcast, the NPR One App & Stitcher.com. Twitter: TomCWilmer. Instagram: Thomas.Wilmer. Member of the National Press Club in Washington D.C. Underwriting support provided by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.