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OLD PRESQUE ISLE LIGHT



NEW PRESQUE ISLE LIGHT
 



 



 

40 MILE POINT LIGHTHOUSE
 

 

   


Did You Know? 01

Produced by the Presque Isle County Historical Museum

 The “Castles” of Presque Isle County

          No, there aren’t really any castles in Presque Isle County . . .but we do have three lighthouses that have tall towers, very similar to the towers on castles in Europe. 

            Most of the lighthouses were built in the 1800’s to guide ships operating on the Great Lakes.  The bright lights shone from their towers warned ships of shallow water.  With the invention of radar and sophisticated navigation systems, however, ships no longer have to rely on the lighthouses.  Most of them have been decommissioned, and many have been turned over to groups that operate them as tourist attractions.

There are 122 lighthouses in Michigan, and Presque Isle County is fortunate to have three of them.  They are Forty Mile Point Lighthouse, Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, and New Presque Isle Lighthouse.

The Old Presque Isle Lighthouse was built in 1840, and is the oldest manmade structure in Presque Isle County.  It is located on Lake Huron, about halfway between Rogers City and Alpena.  Its four-foot-thick stone tower has hand-carved steps and a chain banister to guide you to the top.

The New Presque Isle Lighthouse was built in 1870, farther out on the point than the old lighthouse.  Its brick tower rises 113 feet from its limestone foundation, making it the tallest lighthouse on Lake Huron.  To get to the top, you have to climb 130 steps.  You can see the tower’s light from twenty-one miles out on Lake Huron.

The Forty Mile Point Lighthouse, built in 1896, is northwest of Rogers City on Lake Huron.  Aptly named, it is located 40 miles southeast of Old Mackinaw Point Light and 40 miles northwest of Thunder Bay Island Light.  The lighthouse has a brick duplex residence attached to its 52-foot-high tower.  The lighthouse keeper and his family lived on one side, while the assistant keeper and his family occupied the other side. 

During the summer season, all three of the lighthouses in Presque Isle County are open to the public.

 

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BLUE HIGHWAYS

Did You Know? 02



This  photo shows the passenger and freight steamboat Marine City at a dock in Rogers City.  It was the first steamboat to regularly call at Rogers City, and it brought many of the earliest settlers to the area.  The Marine City was propelled by “sidewheel” paddle wheels.  You can clearly see the decorative covering over the sidewheel.  The big wooden arch strengthened the hull, and kept it from bending too much.  Most passengers stayed in cabins on the upper deck.  The lower deck was used mainly to carry freight.  The boat’s wheelhouse at the bow was in the “birdcage,” or Gothic style.

 

Early settlers traveled to and from Presque Isle County mainly on the “blue highways.”  The “blue highways” were the lakes and rivers that make up the Great Lakes’ system.  They were the same “highways” the Indians had used for hundreds of years. 

In 1870, when the first settlers arrived at Rogers City, there were about 2,500 ships operating on the Great Lakes.  About 1,900 were sailboats, mainly schooners, while the other 600 were steam-powered.  The number of sailboats had peaked in the1860s, and their numbers were shrinking each year.  At the same time, the use of steam-powered boats was increasing each year. 

Sailboats depended on the wind.  If there wasn’t any wind, the sailboats couldn’t make any progress.  The steamboats could operate whether there was wind or not, so they were much more reliable.

Most settlers traveled on passenger and freight steamers like the Marine City.  The wood-hulled Marine City had been built in Marine City, Michigan, in 1866.  It was 192 feet long and 28 feet wide.  It had two decks of cabins for passengers, and all sorts of freight could be carried on the lower decks.  On a typical trip up the lakes, the Marine City might have carried several cows, crates of chickens, bales of hay, bags of corn, crates of merchandise, kegs of salt and gunpowder, and all sorts of lumbering tools and farm implements.  Virtually everything needed to sustain life in the north woods came on the boats.

The Marine City traveled between Cleveland, Detroit, and Mackinac Island, with stops at many communities located along Lake Huron’s shore.  Like many of the early steamboats, it was propelled by paddlewheels located in the middle of the ship.

The sailboats carried mainly freight, lumber, and bulk cargoes, like stone, coal, iron ore, and grains.  Many were also used as barges, towed along behind steamers or steam-powered tugs.  It was common for a steamer to tow four or five such barges.

Most of the lumber shipped out of Presque Isle County was loaded aboard wood-hulled boats called “steam barges,” or “lumber hookers.”  Lumber was loaded in their cargo holds, and stacked high on their decks.  One of the steam barges, the C. H. Starke, operated out of Rogers City for many years. 

When the Michigan Limestone plant at Rogers City began shipping limestone in 1912, most of it was carried in giant, steel-hulled lake freighters like the Calcite.  The 420-foot-long Calcite was built for Michigan Limestone.  It was the first boat in the company’s fleet of self-unloading limestone carriers. 

While most of the passenger and freight business around the Great Lakes was eventually taken over by railroads, trucks, automobiles, and airplanes, giant steel freighters still carry limestone from Rogers City to ports around the Great Lakes.  Some of today’s freighters are more than 1,000 feet long — longer than three football fields laid end-to-end!  They steam up and down the lakes on the same “blue highways” used for hundreds of years by Indians in birch-bark canoes.

 

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BLUE HIGHWAYS

Did You Know? 03


Rogers City’s Bradley Boats

 

In 1910, the Michigan Limestone and Chemical Company was established.  The company began building a limestone quarry and processing plant at the village of Crawford’s Quarry, just south of Rogers City.  At the same time, the company contracted with the Detroit Shipbuilding Company to build a large steel freighter.  The freighter would be used to haul stone from the plant at Rogers City to ports around the Great Lakes.

Production of limestone began at the company’s Calcite Plant in the summer of 1912.  The second ship to load at the plant was the company’s brand new Steamer Calcite.  The Calcite was the first of seven “self-unloading” ships that would eventually be built for the Bradley Transportation fleet, which was owned by Michigan Limestone.  In the 1950s and 1960s, four ships from U.S. Steel’s Pittsburgh Steamship fleet were also transferred to the Bradley fleet.  Before they began hauling limestone from the plant at Rogers City, the four were converted to self-unloaders.

 These self-unloading ships were unique.  A self-unloader has a conveyor system that carries limestone from the cargo hold to an “unloading boom” on the deck.  A conveyor belt on the long, steel boom then carries the cargo to the end of the boom. This boom can be raised and turned so it extends over the side of the ship, where the cargo falls into a pile on the dock.  With this system, a self-unloading ship can unload just about anywhere.  Ships that aren’t self-unloaders can only go to ports that have equipment, such as big cranes, that can dig cargo out of a ship’s cargo hold.  Many small ports around the lakes don’t have that kind of equipment. So if they want a load of stone or coal, it has to be delivered by a self-unloading ship.

When the Steamer Calcite and other early Bradley boats were built, there were very few self-unloading ships.  Today, however, almost all the ships on the Great Lakes are self-unloaders.

Most of the sailors who worked on the Bradley boats were from Rogers City or other communities in Presque Isle County.  Some of these sailors were lost at sea.  Two of the Bradley ships were victims of shipwrecks.  The Steamer Carl D. Bradley sank during a Lake Michigan storm in the fall of 1958.  Thirty-three crew members died in the sinking.  In 1965, the Steamer Cedarville sank in the Straits of Mackinac after it collided with another ship.  Ten Cedarville crewmen were lost as a result of the accident. 

Of the ships built for the Bradley fleet, only the John G. Munson is still in service.  Three of the converted ships are still in operation, but are owned by other companies.

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 Photo Above - The brand new steamer Calcite loading for the first time at the Michigan Limestone dock at Rogers City on Wednesday, June 26, 1912.  Many Rogers City residents were on hand to watch the giant ship load.  In order to demonstrate how a self-unloading vessel could unload its cargo, the Calcite’s boom was swung out over the water and part of her cargo was discharged.  The Calcite was retired during the 1961 season, after 48 years of service with the Bradley Transportation fleet.  During that time, she had carried 4,605 cargoes.  When the ship was cut up for scrap, her pilothouse was removed and returned to Rogers City. 
It can be seen today on the grounds of the Forty MilePoint Lighthouse, north of Rogers City. 

 

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THE SINKING OF THE CARL D. BRADLEY

Did You Know? 04


 

Sinking of the Carl D. Bradley

 

            One of the most tragic events in Rogers City’s history was the sinking of the Steamer Carl D. Bradley.  The Bradley was a limestone freighter whose home port was Rogers City.  On November 18, 1958, the Bradley got caught in a severe storm on northern Lake Michigan, with twenty-five to thirty-foot waves, and wind gusts around seventy-five miles an hour.

 At 5:30 p.m. a loud “thud” was heard aboard the ship. First Mate Elmer Fleming, in the ship’s pilothouse, spun around and noticed the stern of the ship sagging badly.  It was instantly obvious to Fleming that the Bradley was breaking in half. 

As mountainous waves and high winds tore at the ship, Fleming grabbed the radio microphone and broadcast a “Mayday” message to the Coast Guard and ships in the area:  “Mayday!”  Fleming yelled.  “This is the Carl D. Bradley.  Our position is twelve miles southwest of Gull Island.  The ship is breaking up in heavy seas.  We’re going to sink.  We’re going down!”

The Bradley sank quickly.  Fleming and three other crewmen made it to a life raft, but only Fleming and Frank Mays, a deck watchman, survived.  With search and rescue efforts hampered by the savage storm, the two clung to the raft for more than fourteen hours before being rescued by the Coast Guard Cutter Sundew

Thirty-three men perished in the sinking.  The bodies of eighteen Bradley crewmen were pulled from the frigid waters of Lake Michigan.  Fifteen other crewmen were never found.  Most of the men on the Bradley were from Rogers City, or other communities in Presque Isle County.  Over fifty children were left fatherless in the aftermath of the sinking.

No one knows exactly what caused the ship to sink, although many theories exist.  Today the wrecked hull of the Bradley lies 360 feet deep in Lake Michigan.   

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Below - A painting of the Steamer Carl D. Bradley battling a storm on Lake Michigan on November 18, 1958.  The painting by Ken Friedrich, a former Bradley crewmember, depicts the boat breaking in half.  Only 2 of the ship’s 35 crewmembers survived the sinking. 

  

 

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CCC Camps in Presque Isle County 

Did You Know? 05

            Millions of Americans were without work when Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in 1933, during the Great Depression.  To make work for unemployed young men, Roosevelt started the “Emergency Conservation Work Program,” better known today as the Civilian Conservation Corps.

            To be eligible for the program a person had to be a veteran, or a young man between the ages of 18 and 25 whose family was on welfare.  The men had to sign up for enrollments of 6 months to 24 months.  The first “CCC Camps,” as they were called, opened in the spring of 1933, and by July 275,000 men had joined.  Between 1933 and when the program ended in 1942, almost three million men participated. 

The men lived in camps that were set up by the Army.  They lived in tents, and ate meals in mess halls, just like soldiers did.  The CCC men mainly worked on conservation projects for the Department of Agriculture and Department of the Interior.  Enrollees were paid $30 a month, and each man was expected to send at least $15 to his family.

            The initial quota for Presque Isle County was 22 men, but more than 100 applications were received.  Very few of the men met the qualifications for the program.*

            Two camps were set up in Presque Isle County in 1933.  Both camps were made up of men who had served in the Spanish-American War or World War I.  Camp Hawks was located at Lake May, south of Hawks.  Camp Black Lake was located at Ocqueoc Lake.  Men at both camps were involved in building roads and bridges, planting trees on thousands of acres of barren land, planting hatchery-raised fish in lakes in rivers, fighting forest fires, installing telephone lines, erecting fire towers, and constructing buildings, water systems, fences, trails, benches, and tables at Onaway and Hoeft state parks.  Some men from the Black Lake camp also helped build a runway at the Onaway airport.

            By the early 1940s, the country’s economy had improved significantly, and it became difficult to enroll men in the program and many camps were shut down.  The CCC program itself ended shortly after the United States entered World War II in December of 1941.

            While more than sixty years have passed since the CCC camps ended, the Black Lake Camp is still in existence.  It is now owned by Presque Isle County and operates as the Ocqueoc Outdoor Center.  It is one of the few surviving CCC camps in the nation.

            *  The first men from Presque Isle County to join the CCC were:  Watson Labiak, Earl Lowe, Shirley Hartwick, Ernest Wright, George Duncan, Albert Dunbar, Loren Dinsmore, Jr., Angus Morgan, Eldred McLean, Norman King, Jack McClary, Clyde Davis, Donald Frazier, Vern Smith, Chester McQuaid, Vern Dickerson, Edwin Ducap, Melvin Lozen, Edmund Ferko, Adolph Filipiak, Edward Smith, Glen Storrs, Max Kaminski, Reuben Bruning, and Albert Stricker.  Some of the men may be the grandfathers, or great-grandfathers, of your students.

 Information provided by Gerald Micketti.

 

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Photo Below - One of the buildings at the CCC camp at Black Lake.  Today, the camp is known as the Ocqueoc Outdoor Center.  Many of the buildings built at the camp in the 1930s are still in use.


 

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Crawford’s Quarry—The County Seat 

Did You Know? 06

Before the first settlers arrived at what would become Rogers City, there was a settlement called Crawford’s Quarry, located where the Calcite Plant is today.  In 1864, Francis Crawford purchased property along the shore and moved his wife and three sons to the area.  He planned to cut wood to supply steamboats traveling up and down Lake Huron.

On his property, Crawford found a large hill of limestone that he thought could be used as building stone.  He cut and polished some of it, but when he sent samples to buyers, they found it was too porous and soft for building purposes.  Despite that, the little community that grew up around Crawford’s dock came to be known as Crawford’s Quarry.

When the settlement of the village of Rogers started around 1870, an intense rivalry quickly developed between Rogers and Crawford’s Quarry.  The village of Rogers built a courthouse on land donated by William E. Rogers, namesake of the little community.  Crawford’s Quarry, like Rogers, wanted to be the county seat, and there was much quarreling between the two communities.

In 1874, Leonard Crawford was elected supervisor, and the county offices were moved from Rogers to Crawford’s Quarry. Residents of Crawford’s Quarry authorized $1,000 to build a courthouse there. It was an octagon-shaped building heated by a wood stove that was purchased for $50.  On November 5 1874, the County Board of Commissioners met in the new courthouse at Crawford’s Quarry and voted to get rid of the courthouse in Rogers.  Residents of Rogers refused to allow their courthouse to be demolished.

In an 1875 election, the village of Rogers was established as the county seat. Following that election, the courthouse at Crawford’s Quarry was permanently closed, and the stove was moved to the courthouse in Rogers City.

Rogers continued to grow, while Crawford’s Quarry, once a community of 225 people and numerous businesses, saw its population dwindle.  In 1910, the newly-formed Michigan Limestone and Chemical Company purchased all the property around Crawford’s Quarry.  Crawford’s Quarry was finally going to become a limestone quarry.  Some residents stayed on at Crawford’s Quarry into the 1920s, but they were eventually forced out by the expansion of Michigan Limestone’s Calcite Plant.  Today, there are few signs that the community ever existed.

Most of this information is from Nina Ferdelman’s Virgin Forests to Modern Homes, published in 1947.

 

 

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Presque Isle County Assassin 

Did You Know? 07

The Presque Isle County Man Who Assassinated President McKinley

 

            He stood in line with other visitors to the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, in order to shake hands with the President of the United States.  But, when his turn came, instead of shaking hands he squeezed the trigger of his .32 caliber pistol and fired two bullets into President William McKinley. He was immediately knocked down and beaten by soldiers, police, and angry citizens.  In fact, the man was almost killed on the spot. 

The man was Leon Czolgosz, pronounced “Chōl-gŭsh.”  Prior to September 6, 1901, nobody had ever heard of Leon Czolgosz; after that date he became infamous.  President McKinley died on September 13, 1901, and Czolgosz was eventually tried and found guilty of his murder.

            This incident of American history is mentioned not only because Czolgosz was the assassin of President William McKinley, but because Czolgosz had once lived in Presque Isle County.  In fact, at the time of the assassination, members of his family were still living in the area.

            Leon Czolgosz was born in Detroit in 1873, a few months after his parents emigrated from the Prussian province of Posen, Poland.  Seven years later the family moved north, living six months in Rogers City and five years in Posen.  The family then moved to Alpena.  After five years in Alpena, the family moved to Natrona, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, and lived there for two years before moving to Cleveland.  An uncle, Joseph Czolgosz, lived on a farm six miles north of Posen, and was known as an industrious and prosperous farmer.  Another uncle, John Czolgosz, lived in Posen, and Leon’s brother Frank lived in Metz Township. 

            Czolgosz’s trial was probably the shortest on record, at least as far as presidential assassins go.  His trial commenced September 23, 1901, and Czolgosz was found guilty after only two days.  He was executed in the electric chair on October 29th.  Afterwards his clothes and effects were burned.  As Czolgosz was being buried, sulfuric acid was poured into his coffin to hasten disintegration of the body.

 Information taken from the Presque Isle County Advance, September 12, 1901, and the Detroit News-Tribune, September 8, 1901.

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