The most legendary shipwreck in the Great Lakes is the Edmund Fitzgerald. But, the story of another shipwreck captures the hearts of those in the Great Lakes region even more . . ..
The "Christmas Tree Shipwreck" of the Great Lakes schooner Rouse Simmons captures the hearts and mind of people over 100 years later.
The Great Lakes Schooner was a type of sailing vessel common on the Great Lakes even after steam-powered vessels arose, well into the early 1900s.
The southernmost and one of the busiest ports on the Great Lakes was Chicago.
The last opportunity of the year to make money for the schooners of the Great Lakes was around Christmas. Schooners would line Chicago's port, selling Christmas trees that they had procured from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
The most famous Christmas Tree ship is the Rouse Simmons. It was captained by Herman Schuenemann, who called himself "Captain Santa."
Encountering rough seas, the Rouse Simmons went down off the shore of Kewaunee, Wisconsin, a little south of Door County, on November 23, 1912. Captain Santa and his entire crew were lost.
Clues about the fate of the Christmas Tree Ship would roll in. For many years, Christmas trees would wash up on the shore of Wisconsin.
A while after the Rouse Simmons disappeared, a message in a bottle, sealed with pine wood, was found at Sheboygan, Wisconsin . . .
It read: "Friday ... everybody goodbye. I guess we are all through. During the night the small boat washed overboard. Leaking bad. Invald and Steve lost too. God help us."
To commemorate the Christmas Tree Shipwreck, every year the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinac brings a load of Christmas trees to Chicago from Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
The Great Lakes are an amazing place to visit. Door County, Wisconsin is a premier Great Lakes vacation destination. Swipe up to learn more about Door County and other vacation spots.