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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

History Column 279 Dave Petersen I went through my carferry albums and tried to pick out some views that I don't believe have been seen before in previous columns. Lately I've been working on our family genealogies again and re-connecting with family members to identify those mystery people in some of the family albums. I'll share some of those with you later this spring and talk about genealogy resources that have improved in the past few years on the internet. If you are your families genealogist, or keeper of the family memorabilia and wish to have your local families history featured in a column please feel free to contact me at 757-3240, email to davep@blackcreekpress.com or mail in care of the Ludington Daily News PO Box 340 Ludington Mi 49431 With Community clean up days coming up you'll see me out foraging for keepsakes. I generally find scrapbooks, photographs, school yearbooks, old newspapers and other local memorabilia and while I am always happy to rescue these treasures I'm going to appeal to everyone cleaning out corners not to throw these things in the trash. It's our history and we need to preserve it. Pic1 As we move toward the turn of the century (1900) boats were being built increasingly larger but there was only so much that could be done with a wooden hull. Boats of that construction were on the verge of becoming obsolete as steel hulled boats would soon be taking over the work on the Great Lakes. (Photograph Courtesy of Steve Elve.) Pic2 The PM 6 is heading out from the Port of Manistee with a ship full of residents out for a days trip on the Big Lake Michigan. The boat was eventually sold, cut back down to the steam barge it was originally constructed as and in 1936 the boat was burned on the lake by the City of Manitowoc as part of their Centennial Celebration. (Photograph Courtesy of Steve Elve.) Pic3 The Illinois was built by the Chicago Shipbuilding Company in 1899 for the Northern Transportation Company. At 225 feet in length and 40 feet in width this steel hulled ship was an impressive sight as she cruised into ports along the Lake Michigan shoreline to bring mail, freight and passengers. Pic4 The movement of the freight from railroad car to boat and back off again provided more opportunities for damage to goods and there was a desire to find a way to move more freight across the lake more easily, quickly and year around. This challenge was met by the new Pere Marquette Carferry in 1897. Pic5 Pere Marquette 19 lies hard aground with her machinery spaces full of water after a hard grounding off Big Sable point in January 1916. Before the advent of modern navigational aids both onboard and ashore, such accidents were commonplace. Pic6 The car ferry crews were a tight-knit group that entertained each other by forming musical bands and boxing events during their off-watch hours. They also had nick names for each other (such as Jibber Jabber) that were used so commonly that they sometimes did not know a persons given name. Photograph by Erhardt Peters,

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