Two Rivers in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Schooner Rouse Simmons
— Wisconsin’s Maritime Trails —
Type: Wooden schooner, three-masted
Built: 1868, Allen McClelland and Company, Milwaukee
Sank: November 23, 1912
Length: 124’ Beam: 27’
Cargo: Lumber, wood products, Christmas trees
Depth of Wreckage: 165’
Lives lost: 16
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places
About 12 miles northeast of this spot, 165 feet below the waves, lies one of the most celebrated shipwrecks in Lake Michigan. The three-masted Rouse Simmons spent her career like many lumber schooners of her day, hauling forest products from isolated towns on Lake Michigan to the hungry markets of Milwaukee and Chicago. She disappeared one late November day with a special cargo in her hold, and ever since she has been fondly remembered as the “Christmas Tree Ship.”
On November 22, 1912, the Rouse Simmons departed Thompson, Mich., with her annual load of Christmas pines and firs. Two captains (each one-eighth owners) shared command of the vessel, Herman Scheunemann and Charles Nelson. Scheunemann intended to sell trees in Chicago, from the ship’s deck directly to his customers, as he had done
On her second day out, the Rouse Simmons encountered a northwest gale. She was spotted flying a distress flag at about 3:00 p.m., as she passed the Kewaunee Life-Saving Station. The station telephoned the life saving crew in Two Rivers, who set out to help the struggling vessel. However, by the time the crew rounded Two Rivers Point (now Rawley Point), the Rouse Simmons was nowhere to be seen. She was lost without a trace.
For many years afterwards, Christmas trees from the “ghost ship” washed up along this beach. The Rouse Simmons was discovered by divers in 1971. She is celebrated today in songs, stories, and plays, her myth and mystery growing with the passing years.
Erected by Wisconsin Historical Society, UW Sea Grant Institute, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Disasters • Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Wisconsin’s Maritime Trails series list.
Location. 44° 8.998′ N, 87° 33.403′ W. Marker is in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, in Manitowoc County. Marker is at the intersection of Zlatnik Drive and Pierce Street, on the right when traveling Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Two Rivers WI 54241, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Steamer Continental (here, next to this marker); Two Rivers' North Pier Lighthouse (approx. 0.3 miles away); Steamer Vernon (approx. 0.4 miles away); St. Luke School (approx. half a mile away); St. Luke Catholic Church (approx. half a mile away); St. Luke Rectory (approx. half a mile away); St. Luke Convent (approx. half a mile away); Galecki Building (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Two Rivers.
Also see . . .
1. The Christmas Tree Ship: Captain Herman E. Schuenemann and the Schooner Rouse Simmons. Prologue Magazine, Winter 2006, Vol. 38, No. 4. National Archives (Submitted on June 6, 2012, by Paul Fehrenbach of Germantown, Wisconsin.)
2. The Tale of the Christmas Tree Ship. Wisconsin Historical Society (Submitted on June 6, 2012, by Paul Fehrenbach of Germantown, Wisconsin.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on June 5, 2012, by Paul Fehrenbach of Germantown, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 596 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on June 5, 2012, by Paul Fehrenbach of Germantown, Wisconsin. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.