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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



david k petersen

Northern Michigan Line History Column 236 Dave Petersen I really love old paper stuff, and have for a long time, the graphics, the touch and the smell (as long as its not moldy that is) Today's column is based around a timetable and advertising piece for the Northern Michigan Line from 1914. In the early part of the last century Ludington was a port of call for a number of different shipping lines that brought weary city dwellers and those looking for a little escape from the daily grind on excursions around the Great Lakes. Antoine Cartier who was twice Mayor of Ludington and of the Cartier Lumber family also had a connection to the Northern Michigan Transportation Company. He served as Vice President of the corporation among his many other concerns that he was involved with. Quoting from the Portrait And Biographical Record Of Northern Michigan of 1895 Antoine was heavily involved in many enterprises. "Among other concerns in which he is now interested are the following: the Ashland Lumber Company, of Ashland, Wis.; the Cartier Enameling Company; the Central Package and Basket Company; the Crawford & Manistee Railroad Company, and the Citizen's Development Company, all of which organizations he is President. Of the following he is Vice-President: the Northern Michigan Transportation Company; the Ketcham Lumber Company, of Chicago; and the Ketcham Steamboat Company, of the same city." Ludington is mentioned in the write up of the stops in the brochure, it says that Ludington is a charming place that not only has several nice hotels but that rooms are also available in the homes of private citizens. The write up on the city itself is smaller then the other attractions that the company promoted to boost ridership. The available fishing at inland lakes and the famous trout stream the Pere Marquette River is high on the list. Much is also written about the Students Military Instruction Camp at Lincoln, the five week program cost 22.50 with 5.00 being returned if the issued clothing was not damaged. I guess you could drop off your high school boys on the way up north to enjoy your cruise for a fraction of the cost of the cruise. Epworth heights is promoted as being an attractive resort with a variety of entertainment including golf, tennis, boating and bowling alleys? To finish off the sales pitch for our area is a plug for Hamlin Lake Resorts it says " The fishing is all that the most ardent of sportsmen could desire." Pic 1 The cover of the timetable shows the Steamer Manitou, she was built in 1893 and spent many years on the Chicago Mackinac run. She burned in 1936 at Manistee and was converted to a Barge. Other ships in the line included the SS Missouri and the SS Illinois. Pic2 The SS Manistee was built in 1882 and while it is shown here in the 1914 timetable the ship burned and was declared a total loss on June 28th 1914 at Ferrysburg. Originally built by J.H. Randall and named the Lora she was renamed the Alice Stafford in 1897 and the Manistee in 1905. She was scheduled to make the Chicago to Sault Ste Marie run. Pic 3 The SS Missouri was a common site in the Ludington harbor as she also brought mail. These grand ships were the preferred mode of transportation at a time when the roads were unimproved and the automobile more of a novelty. As roads improved and the automobile became more prevalent in the driveways of American's homes passenger numbers dropped. The Depression all but completed the inevitable decline and destruction of these ladies of the lakes. Pic 4 The cost of a trip by todays standards would be cheaper then driving to Traverse City and Back. At 40.00 for a weeks trip which included meals and a place to sleep the average Joe working for maybe 20 cents an hour in 1914 would have to save his pay for 200 hours. Pic 5 This map shows all of the routes that were available in 1914 to take a trip on one of the many ships operated by Northern Michigan Transportation Company. There were many stops along the way from Pentwater and Ludington all the way to the Georgian Bay and back to the Soo and Mackinac Island.

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