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Mason County Memories

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Fishtown in Leland History Column Dave Petersen Fishtowns such as what we had here in Ludington existed up and down the shorelines of the Great Lakes and in most cases are all but gone and forgotten. The shanties and the boats, the weathered faces of the men who worked the nets and hauled the catches are long gone but hopefully will not be forgotten. Efforts are underway in Leland (near Traverse City) to preserve some of that history for generations to come. The Fishtown Preservation Society has been working diligently to raise funds to close the fishtown properties owned by the Carlson family on the north side of the river in Leland. Today I'd like to share some photos from my collection of the Fishing boats and shanties at Leland Michigan. 120-001 The Carlson Brothers Fish tug Lucille coming into Leland Harbor with the days catch. Owned by the Carlson Brothers William, Gordon and Edwin. The Lucille was wrecked November 9th 1926 while at anchor at North Manitou. It was first thought to have broken loose and set adrift but a search proved futile and upon inspection it was found that the boat was sunk at the dock at the end of her anchor. It was raised 2 days later. 120-002 Fish Tugs Nu-Deal and Irene along with 2 others. At times the ice between Leland and Manitou Island would fill the lake and harbor blocking passage of the mail and raising havoc with the fishing boats as they attempted to get out early in the year to set their nets. 120-003 Fishing boats were generally pulled out of the water for the winter at the end of December each year. There were some occasions when the weather was unseasonably warm and the harbor remained open into January where they could continue to put out their nets. The catch was not generally as good but those fishermen who went out felt that they were at least able to harvest some small catches that would have gone uncaught otherwise. 120-004 Another view of an attempt to make it into the harbor through the drift ice that has blown in and blocked the harbor. They are running the boat up on the ice and the men are placing their weight on the bow of the boat and attempting to push through the ice. 120-005 A last summer day at what looks like the seagull café in Leland's Fishtown. 120-006 During the winter layover the fishermen were busy with repairing nets and getting ready for the spring fishing season and the annual ice harvest. In November 1928 notice was given to all fishermen that in the next year's season that the fish harvest must be stored in ice immediately after being caught. Notice was given this early so that the fishermen would have ample time to put up the needed ice during their winter ice harvest for the following season. You can find out more about their efforts to preserve this important piece of Maritime history online at http://www.preservingfishtown.org/ If you have any stories or photos that you would like to share please feel free to contact me at davep@blackcreekpress.com or 757-3240 and please leave a message.

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