The lumbering era in Michigan’s Upper Thumb from 1860-1880 resulted in booming towns all along the shoreline. Sebewaing was no exception. While it did not benefit from proximity of being on Lake Huron like Sand Beach, (later named Harbor Beach), or having a deep river outflow like Caseville, it’s historical spot as a rich hunting area by native Americans and natural outflow to Saginaw Bay by the Sebewaing River predestined it as a natural gathering spot.
While researching another topic. I ran across these rare pictures taken in the Sebewaing river area in the late 1800’s. I was surprised such large ships could enter as the early plat maps show only a narrow river entrance into the town. It turns out that Sebewaing was a bit of a ship building and repair site. It’s yet another bit of history to savor. If only for a moment.
Schooner Viola in Sebewaing harbor. Source: Ralph K. Roberts
Schooner G.R. DURKEE, 1887, attributed to being taken in Sebewaing. (Doubtful) Dowling Collection, University of Detroit – Mercy
Steambarge J.C. Liken 1873, taken in Sebewaing. Source: Ralph K. Roberts
The Daytona of the North
Over the years I’ve encountered numerous folks from Southeast Michigan who have fond memories of heading to the beach in Caseville. The park’s waterfront offers a large sandy expanse with plenty of room to build sandcastles, play touch football, rent kayaks and swim the day away. Its proximity to the large campground and short distance to town means it’s frequented by many visitors. It’s one of the most Instagrammed and Facebook Selfie spots around.
Vista of Fun
While you can’t drive on the beach you can park close enough to get a great view of sunsets or the fireworks shot off the Caseville breakwater pier on July 4th. During the annual Cheeseburger festival key events such as the cardboard canoe race and the sand sculpture draw large crowds. If you’re hungry there is a lunch stand that offers some of the best French fries around.
Close to Everything
The beach is only a portion of this large city-side park. Caseville County Park sits on 40 acres, it hosts a large full service campground with large portions of it covered with a tree canopy. Many campers bring their boat along as launch ramps are available at the nearby marina, as is fishing off the Caseville Pier. The park also features pavilion rentals and offers a few prime beachfront sites. The park also has an open air theater which provides live entertainment during Ribstock BBQ competition in June and Caseville Cheeseburger festival in August. Once here you can reach all attractions by foot or bike as the city has sidewalks throughout.
I recently ran across a online resource for Great Lakes Shipping enthusiasts. The Fr. Edward J. Dowling, S.J. Marine Historical Collection offers an ever expanding data set of ships, shipbuilders and ship names that span back to the 1830’s.
“The collection also contains 52 notebooks filled with more than 70 years worth of compiled data on virtually every steamship (about 10,000) of more than 100 tons that has navigated the Great Lakes. The data includes the years of which the ships were built, their owners, the ships’ dimensions, type of equipment used on them, final disposition and other data. In addition, the collection has details on almost every fleet navigating the Great Lakes.”
I became very interested in ship building in the Thumb when I found that Caseville’s Frances Crawford built a schooner the Frank Crawford on the Pigeon River in 1861. See the post Ship Building in Caseville to find out more.
Fr. Edward J. Dowling was a noted Great Lakes historian, an associate professor of engineering graphics at the University of Detroit, and a special lecturer in marine travel and commercial shipping on the Great Lakes. He authored Lakers of World, published by the University of Detroit Press in 1967 and numerous journal article on Great Lakes shipping.
Ships depicted are the City of Alpena from the Dowling Collection.
With winter now firmly gripping the Upper Thumb and having an intense cold snap to boot it’s time to bring in the reinforcements. The Toddy.
A hot toddy, is typically a mixed drink made of liquor and water with honey, herbs and spices, and served hot. In Michigan, many toddy’s are found housed in an innocent thermos while the kids are sledding or playing ice hockey. They are the ideal cold weather drink. Here is a recipe should be experienced and derivatives are always welcome.
- Heat water in a tea kettle or the microwave.
- Once hot, add a tea bag and allow to steep for about 3 to 5 minutes. Use any tea but let it seep until nice and dark.
- Warm up a serving mug with more hot water. Empty and drizzle honey at the bottom of the warm mug.
- Add about 1-2 shots of bourbon and about a tablespoon of lemon juice.
- Pour your dark steeped tea into the mug and stir.
Garnish with a cinnamon stick or slice of orange. There are many variations to this so feel free to experiment. You may find it interesting that these basic ingredient are also the basis for America’s first cocktails. Adding tea was a common “soft” ingredient in powerful punches of the colonial era. Enjoy.