Ship Building in Caseville


Caseville was considered a very large lumbering town in the late 1800’s with lumber yards, industrial size evaporators called salt blocks to process brine pumped from deep wells and even an iron works. Ship building was also an important industry. In 1861 Francais Crawford built a lake schooner. The “Frank Crawford was a large masted schooner that plied the waters all over the Great Lakes in the late 1800’s.

An entry from July 29, 1861 from the Buffalo Daily Courier noted:

A NEW VESSEL. — The new vessel built at Pigeon River, Saginaw Bay, of which we made mention a few weeks since in our columns, passed up yesterday to load at the above point with lumber for parties in Cleveland. She has an elegant fit out, fore and aft rig, neatly painted, and called the FRANK CRAWFORD. She is sailed by Captain Edward Gaffet, of Cleveland. — Detroit Tribune.

However, it seems that the vessel was noted with problems. Running aground, suffering a collision, losing a boom-jib and being sold. Her story finally culminated in 1882 on Lake Superior with this entry.

The schooner FRANK CRAWFORD, of Chicago, ashore at Portage Bay, has been abandoned to the underwriters. She measured 213 tons, was built at Pigeon River, by R. Calkins, in 1861, rated A 2, and was valued at $9,000. William Shaw & Brother, of Chicago, were the owners. – J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, No. 2, November, 1882

The oak trees that dominated the area were pronounced to be among the best for ship building. Other industrial shipping was produced including the “Perseverance” a large lumber barge holding up to 5000 linier feet of finished lumber. The barge was towed by tug but eventually wreaked in a storm near Port Huron.


GREAT-LAKES-SHIP-CROPPED-


Later in 1872, the “Charlie Crawford” a three masted shallow draft scow freighter used to carry raw iron ore from the Upper Peninsula to Caseville’s Iron Works. The iron works were run about a year, and then due to the Long Depression (1873-1879), depressed iron prices and high fuel prices the operation ceased. The furnace stood vacant and idle for years. The red brick kiln was torn down and each brick was cleaned for reuse. Today some of these bricks can be seen in several buildings in Caseville. The Blue Water Inn is one of the most notable businesses where the original chimney bricks were used.

The Charlie Crawford also seemed to suffer its share of events. The Indianapolis News reported in November of 1879 that:

The schooner ashore at Port au Barques is supposed to be the Charlie Crawford, with her mizzen gone. She left Caseville on Saturday night.

The Port Huron Daily Times reported in October 1893:

The schooner CHARLIE CRAWFORD, ashore on the north side of Bois Blanc Island, will be salvaged.

There are no other mentions of the large schooner after 1893.


Featured image “Schooner” Wikipedia Commons

Oil painting “Off the Coast (Lake Superior)” 1886 Alexis Jean Fourier Minneapolis Institute of Art. Personal photo 


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“All Hands On Deck”


The term “All Hands On Deck” is used to indicate (the need for) the immediate involvement or efforts of all the members of a party, or of a large number of people, especially in an emergency. The rapid and determental changes proposed by the current Administration against the ongoing funding to restore the Great Lakes have alarmed the entire region. There is a grass roots effort now underway to generate awareness and action that we can clearly see other people are concerned and share the value of keeping and restoring the Great Lakes for generations to come. 

great-lakes-spaceThe Great Lakes –Superior, Huron, Michigan, St. Clair, Ontario and Erie – make up the largest body of fresh water on Earth, accounting for one-fifth of the freshwater surface on the planet. 40 Million people get their drinking water from the Great Lakes.

But the Great Lakes are being threatened. Some of the threats are: Invasive species like carp and zebra mussels, radioactive waste to be dumped in Lake Huron, sewage overflows in Erie and other head waterways, pipelines that leak, water bottling companies with unlimited access to our water, manufacturing waste run off, funding cut backs of the NOAA that monitors changes in the Great Lakes and Coast Guard cuts that maintain the safety of all who enjoy our Great waters.

In early March, Kimberly Simon of Charlevoix, Michigan was meditating after hearing about proposed budget cuts to the GLRI (Great Lakes Restoration Initiative) and envisioned an “All Hands On Deck” event where people would join hands all around the Great Lakes. Currently there are over 50 events planned in five states and in Canada. More than 1,400 people have joined the All Hands On Deck discussion group on Facebook.

 “The idea resonates with people across a very broad region because they all realize theimage Great Lakes are precious resources that are essential for our environment, our economies and our way of life,” Simon said. “Sites may differ by community but on beaches or boardwalks or any other places, the intention is the same; to bring people together in an expression of unified concern about something we all can agree on. We all want to take care for our Great Lakes.”

Simon said the goal of All Hands On Deck is to unite communities around the Great Lakes in a non-partisan way and demonstrate the need to base policies for regulating and researching water issues on science.

Thumb Sun RiseI personally live on an inland lake in Michigan but vacation every year on one of the Great Lakes. Nothing compares to the beauty and majesty of the Great Lakes and its beaches! I, along with my family and some friends, became involved with Kimberly’s efforts and will be Captains of events in Port Austin and Caseville. This is a nonpartisan event for all ages and we invite all to come to join us on the beach or join us in your boat on the water.

Information is available at www.allhandsondeckgreatlakes.org

I can be contacted at: PortAustinahod@outlook.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1164392330338398/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

Or give me a call: 1-810-441-8378

The event is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. on July 3. Sign in starts at 8 a.m. for those who wish to come early.

Denise Rowden


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M25: the Ribbon around the Thumb


M25_SignA favorite tour for motorcyclist is the State Highway M-25. It’s a 147 mile road running from Port Huron to Bay City Michigan. With waters of Lake Huron or Saginaw Bay on one side and rolling pasture and farmland on the other it’s one of the more interesting drives in southern Michigan.

Officially M-25 is a state trunk line highway in the US state of Michigan. M-25 is part of the Lake Huron Circle Tour for its entire length. Starting at a junction with Business Loop I-69/Business Loop I-94 in Port Huron M25_Maprunning north along the coast the highway passes through Lexington, Port Sanilac, Harbor Beach and Port Hope. At Port Austin is the northern most point of M-25. From here the road turns west and south running through Caseville, Bay Port, Bay, Unionville and ending in Bay City. The section of M-25 in Bay City was named what is now called a Pure Michigan Historic Byway by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). Originally called the Bay City Historic Heritage Route you can see historical neighborhoods and large Victorian homes constructed by the lumber barons of the 1800s.


Do you love Michigan’s Thumb? So do we. However we were frustrated on not seeing cool T-shirts that M25reflect our favorite spots. So we created ThumbWind-Mercantile. This on-line shop offers T’s unique to Michigan’s Thumb and can’t be found anywhere else. Check it out.

Roadside Parks and Scenic Turnouts

One aspect that is truly unique to M-25 is the number of places to stop, rest or take in the view. There are a number of interesting turn–offs provided by MDOT to get off the highway. Most are right on the beach.

77_LkHuron_sm_263618_7Lake Huron – Located South of Port Sanilac in Sanilac County. This stop has great views of Lake Huron, with stairs from the park to the beach. Historical Marker for “Great Lake Storm of 1913” when sudden tragedy took 235 lives and 10 ships sank.

Four Mile Scenic Turnout – Location is south of Forestville in Sanilac County. Offers some of the best views of Lake Huron, with stairs from the park on the bluff down to the beach.

White Rock – Located south of Atwater Road, Sherman Twp in Huron County. Great views of Lake Huron and White Rock. Steps to beach, observation deck, walking trails connecting to non-motorized path on M-25. White Rock is a large, white, off-shore boulder used as a boundary marker to define the territory released by the Native American tribes of Michigan to the United States under the Treaty of Detroit in 1807.

Jenks – location is 2 miles west of Port Austin in Huron County. Features a spectacular view of Saginaw Bay, with beach access, restroom and picnic facilities.

Thompson Scenic Turnout – located 10 miles southwest of Port Austin in Huron County. Thompson Park features 2 large grindstones and access to sandy beach on Saginaw Bay, picnic tables and benches.

Brown – located 3 miles south of Bay Port in Huron County. Contains the historical Marker for “The Great Fire of 1881.” A million acres were devastated in Sanilac and Huron counties.


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The Bay Port Hotel


The history of Michigan’s Upper Thumb is one of boom and bust. In the late 1800’s the lumber industry created frontier  millionaires and whole towns sprung up around mills. New industry such as salt blocks sprang up next utilizing tons of debris from the saw mills as fuel. The Bay Port Hotel was an exception. Using rail as transport, guests could get to the calm waters of Wild Fowl Bay in a 1/2 a day yet still have all the amenities of a big city hotel.  The days of frontier resorts would soon end in the early 1900’s as lumbering ended in Michigan. This is a clip found in Caseville’s museum collection.

Pictured here is the famous Bay Port Hotel. It was nestled among the beautiful trees on the shore of Saginaw Bay at Bay Port (1886-1907) This hotel was state of the art in its day. Well planned and built of the finest materials having 117 heated rooms, six excellent cooks, hot and cold baths, bowling alleys, pools tables and an electric lighting system, Casino and barber shop.

The culinary arrangements were second to none in Michigan. The ventilation and lighting system, as well as the fire protection offered guests was the best of its time.

Was it Haunted

About year 1900 despondent young man committed suicide in one of the lower rooms by slashing by slashing his wrists and throat. Before he died the young man succeed in making bloody hand prints over of the beautiful walls of his room. Because it was difficult to cover up the stains this was locked up and not used again.

Not long after the tragic death of the young man, the Bay Port Hotel had the reputation of being haunted. Guests were positive that throughout the nights, they heard voices even claimed to have seen the ghosts of the young man and his betrothed, who had preceded him in death.

The “Cincinnati Club” that rented the entire hotel for some weeks each summer, left and found a new summer home. Sail boats which dotted the bay near the hotel, disappeared. Excursion trains from the big cities discontinued their daily trips to the thriving port. In short the fancy hotel no longer was paying investors.


Bay Port Hotel


W.H. Wallace purchased it and sold the contents ‘by auction sale, before tearing down the building in 1907. Today all that remains are the front steps in front of an empty lot. 


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Images from Caseville Historical Society and Bay Port Chamber of Commerce.

 

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Fun in Michigan's Upper Thumb

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