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Mason County Memories


"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus" ~ Mark Twain


History Columns are arranged by year of publication in the Ludington Daily News



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In past columns we've taken a look at some of the business's in operation around Ludington in 1905 and today we'll continue our walk around town. Joseph Sahlmark was a druggist who opened his store in 1897 and was located at the corner of James and Filer Street in Ludington. A graduate of North Western University in Chicago he came to the Ludington area shortly after his graduation. Another Pharmacy we don't hear much about was the Dowland Street Pharmacy that was established about 1904 by B.S. Hutchinson Prior to that time he had a Candy, Tobacco and toy store at the same location at 329 East Dowland Street. Another Dowland Street store was located at 143 E Dowland and owned by John H Cota "Dealer in fine and staple groceries." Sometime take a look at the addresses of where some of these business'es of a century ago were located and see what is there now, how it has changed over the past 100 years. Established in 1899. Down near the Dowland Street intersection of 622 South James we find C.A. Rohn dealer in coal and ice. There was a large icehouse and his advertisement boasts of 3 teams keeping busy year around delivering ice and coal to area residents. At this time in 1905 another icehouse was being built at the north end of Charles Street [Rath] near Lincoln Lake in order to take advantage of the ice ready to harvest there during the winter. As we enjoy the summer weather that has come our way recently and the convenience of our beverages cooled by ice from the freezer think for a minute how our early residents had to go about planning for the ice they needed for the family icebox and cooling their lemonade during the summer. I find the harvesting of ice to be an interesting facet of history, one I'm sure most people don't stop to consider when we plop those cubes into that glass of pop. In 1905 they would have had to use teams of horses and sleds out on the lake to haul the ice. Even before they go that far thought they had to wait for good ice which would be about a foot thick, the ice had to be marked, cut by hand, loaded into sleds and hauled to the icehouse. There it would be unloaded stacked and packed in straw. Teams of men and horses would work together, often helping each other to fill their respective icehouses whether they were commercial or private ice houses. Farmers would harvest from the pond, others from Pere Marquette, Lincoln, or Hamlin Lake. The ice harvest was as important as any other harvest during the year and generally took place the end of January or the first part of February when conditions were right. We all know however that sometimes Mother nature plays tricks on us and ice had to be put up at times when the conditions may not have been ideal. NC Madsen Dealer in hardware who we have spoken of Earlier was located at the corner of Dowland Street and Washington Avenue. At 416 South James Street we had the People's Furniture Company owned by Charles Johnson. Established about 1885 after Mr. Johnson Emigrated from Sweden. In the next block taking over 3 storefronts we find A. Poirier's grocery and tobacco store. A long time Ludington Businessman he established his store in 1883 This is an area of town that has seen many many changes over the past 100 years and is going through another change right before our eyes as new development is re-designing South James Street. Don't despair too much over the change, for 100 years from now the Condos, like the grain elevators and freight docks will be only a memory and other new developments will have taken their place and changed the face of our waterfront once again.

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