The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
About North Manitou Island
Door County Advocate (Sturgeon Bay, WI), 12 Oct 1911, p. 4, column 4

Full Text

North Manitou is credited with an area of 14,000 acres, and is about seven miles from the mainland of Michigan. Practically the whole of it is the property of John Newland of Chicago, who has a fine orchard on a part of it. This produces apples, peaches, cherries and plums in great profusion. A submarine cable connects it with the mainland by the way of the South Manitou.

There is a sawmill on the island and what is doubtless the most remarkable pier on the Great Lakes. This structure is built wholly of piles, which are driven as close together as possible, and which have thus far proved irresistible to the tremendous sea that gathers force and momentum for a stretch of seventy miles of open way on the northwest side. It is related that here may be seen one of the greatest seas on the lake, and during the winter months ice embankments forty and fifty feet high are formed.

The sawmill is no longer operated, but the logs are transported to Empire on the mainland and converted into lumber. During the past season the steamer Edward Buckley has been engaged in this trade. There is still much merchantable timber left on the island, but the owners are conserving this as much as possible.

One of the most exciting as well as notable events in recent years was the grounding on North Manitou about a year ago of the big steamship Bethlehem, belonging to the Lehigh Valley line. She met with disaster during thick weather and remained hard and fast until a good part of her cargo had been lightered off. This comprised flour, bran, flax seed, etc., which had been consigned to Germany. As soon as news of the disaster had been sent abroad by cable a wrecking expedition was organized under the direction of Capt. Reid, who was early at the scene with the Favorite. It having been found useless to attempt to float her with the hold full of water, lightering was decided upon. Among the vessels that were engaged in the service was the steambarge J. S. Crouse, Capt. Chas. Anderson. This craft was kept busy for some time in carrying cargo to the landing, and when this part of the undertaking was finished there was a mountain of freight piled on the wharf, which is about the same size as the old Merchants dock was in Sturgeon Bay. Besides this one or more schooners and gasoline launches were assisting in the work of saving cargo. Much of its, however, was spoilt by water, altho it was found that the flour, with the exception of about two inches of dough and crust on the outside was not injured, and it is quite probable that there are still a great many people on the lower end of the lake that are eating bread today that was made from the jettisoned flour.

Here was also seen the wonderful effects of the oil that exuded from the flax seed, which covered the surface of the lake for miles and made calm water for weeks afterward. It is not known how much of the mill products were eventually lost, but this must have been a large sum, and was subsequently made good by the underwriters, which took charge of the wreck soon after it had been abandoned by the Lehigh people. It is said to have been one of the most costly mishaps that has ever happened in that region, and must have run into many thousands of dollars from first to last. The Bethlehem is a steel vessel, 290 feet long and 41 feet beam, with a gross tonnage of 2,633 tons.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Publication:
12 Oct 1911
Personal Name(s):
Newland, John ; Reid, Captain ; Anderson, Charles
Corporate Name(s):
Lehigh Valley Railroad
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 45.0540175483011 Longitude: -85.9852144335937
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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About North Manitou Island