South Haven in Van Buren County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
A Long History
In 1939, the Sturgeon Bay Boat Works built the Evelyn S for William Seliman Fisheries of Manistique, Michigan. A typical wooden gill net fish tug design prevalent during this period, the tug was sheathed in steel as protection against winter ice. In 1943, a commercial fishing company in Frankfort, Michigan, purchased the tug and operated it until 1952 when it was sold to the Muskegon Towing Company. In 1979, the Michigan Maritime Museum realized the importance of this vessel as an example of a dwindling aspect of the diverse maritime economy and acquired Evelyn S for an on-water exhibit. After 40 years of serving as a working vessel, Evelyn S became an educational tool.
Commercial fishing was part of a thriving diverse maritime economy on Lake Michigan from the 1860s to the 1970s. For nearly 40 years, Evelyn S plied the waters of Lake Michigan and brought in the catch that made local communities like South Haven flourish.
Evelyn S exhibits the diverse use of vessels through time to fit the needs of a changing world.
Evelyn S exhibits the technologies used for commercial fishing on the Lakes. From the Kahlenburg engine and mechanical equipment used for gill nets, to the steel sheathing and enclosed deck to protect the crew against the weather, the tug exemplifies vessels that represented a once thriving industry and our reliance on it.
Labor of Love
Great Lakes Boat Building School graduate Hans Wagner conducted much of the restoration of the woodwork, which included removing a large portion of the dry rot. Museum staff, interns, and many volunteers sanded, painted, and helped make the tug
The Michigan Maritime Museum offers our most heartfelt thanks to Michigan Coastal Zone Management and the following people and organizations for making this project possible:
DEQ Cottage Home Giesler Family of All Seasons Marine Advantage Tree Service City of South Haven deBest Excell Concrete Service GC Detailing Jensen's Excavating Lakeshore Paint & Glass Mitchell & Morse Land Surveying Plaggemars Construction Ridgewood Home Construction Servinsky Engineering TNT Roofing Wolters Electric Zeeland Lumber & Supply
Great Lakes fisheries heritage is the story of how we relate to aquatic ecosystems, biodiversity, water quality and environmental change. The fishery is the thread running through all of these, and serves as a gauge of resource sustainability and quality of life across our Great Lakes coastal communities.
Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Trail sites include museums, coastal fishing communities, fish
Industry Innovations and Evolution
Fishing from Shore Native Americans and early settlers fished from shore using hand methods such as seine nets that could be pulled through shallow waters.
Mackinaw Boats Originally used in the fur trade, these sailing boats were considered the 'pickup trucks' of their time for their versatility. As fur trading began to decline, many Mackinaw boats were retrofitted for commercial fishing.
The Great Lakes Gill Net Tug Designed for gill net fishing methods, this boat design and gear dominated commercial fishing activities through the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A design unique to the Great Lakes, this enclosed 'turtle back' boat allows fishermen to fish in the coldest waters of the Great Lakes.
Modern Trawling Boats Trawlingor dragging a huge parachute-like netwas made possible by advances in engine technology
Trap Net Boats Trap nets can be set in deeper waters and can be extremely large.
Pound-Netting (or Pond Netting) Standing nets in shallow water funnel fish into a small pen. Boats that could be rowed (hand-powered) or sailed (wind-powered) provided the ability to take the nets out farther from shore.
Gill Netting Gill nets are size-selective, meaning the mesh allows only certain sizes of fish to swim partially through before they become entangled. Smaller fish are able to swim right through the net without getting caught.
Trap Netting Trap nets funnel fish into an enclosed box net (i.e. trap) where they can still swim freely prior to being retrieved. This allows fish that are undesirable due to their size or species to be released without harm once the net is retrieved.
Great Lakes, Great Fish, Great Food
At the peak of commercial fishing in the Great Lakes, 150 million pounds of fish were being harvested annually. U.S. and Canadian Great Lakes commercial fishing operations sustainably harvest around 50 million pounds annually, providing a significant food source shared around the world. Home to 134 species of fish, Lake Michigan provides popular recreational salmon and steelhead fishing while producing nearly 6 million pounds of commercially caught
Erected by Michigan Maritime Museum.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1939.
Location. 42° 24.365′ N, 86° 16.514′ W. Marker is in South Haven, Michigan, in Van Buren County. Marker is on Black River Street, 0.1 miles south of Dyckman Avenue, on the left when traveling south. Marker is located on the Harbor Walk, at the South Haven Maritime Docks, beside the sidewalk, overlooking the Michigan Maritime Museum's Evelyn S exhibit. The restored 1939 wooden gill net fishing tug is on display here. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 268 Black River Street, South Haven MI 49090, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Commercial Fishing (a few steps from this marker); A Historic Harbor (within shouting distance of this marker); Captains of Industry (within shouting distance of this marker); Catskills of the Midwest (within shouting distance of this marker); Local Pioneers (within shouting distance of this marker); Coastal Crossroads (within shouting distance of this marker); Strike Up the Band! (within shouting distance of this marker); A Farming Heritage (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in South Haven.