Pentwater in Oceana County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Ships and Shipping
Historic Village of Pentwater
What is now a park-like shore along the lake was the heart of Pentwater's industrial district during the lumbering era. Today's grass replaced many large neat stacks of newly sawn lumber awaiting shipment. Lumber was the principal outgoing cargo during the harbor's most active years (1865-1900).
Getting the lumber onto a ship that would take it to market was a tedious and grueling operation. A typical load of lumber might be made up of 7,000-8,000 pieces individually put aboard by longshorement called "lumber shovers". What couldn't go into the hold was piled on the deck. Deck loads were so high that schooners in the lumber trade had a "lumber reef" to raise the bottom of the sail above the load.
Sometimes a vessel was too large to come into the harbor. Then the cargo was first loaded onto light barges, winched out to the vessel anchored in Lake Michigan, and then reloaded piece by piece onto the pitching ship. Timbers destined to become ships' masts were too long to be loaded and had to be towed. According to the Pentwater News, lath and shingles were also shipped as were cranberries, potatoes, tan bark, and, in one year, 26,000 lbs. of maple sugar. Perishable goods such as fish and fruit went deep into the hold where Lake Michigan's cool water could keep them fresh.
Trade was mostly with Chicago.
From the harbor's beginning in 1856 traffic increased until, in 1891, 1,140 vessels carrying freight and passengers visited Pentwater. At first, masts and sails dominated the harbor scene as small (50-150 ton) schooners and sailing scows hauled away the large quantities of white pine from local mills. At one time the newspaper reported 20 vessels in the harbor waiting cargoes. Of the few steam vessels, Mears' flagship, the propeller driven C. MEARS, was the most welcome visitor, bringing, among other things, timely news of the Civil War. As the stream of lumber slowed to a trickle, sails became fewerin the harbor and steamboats became larger. Vessels such as the KANSAS brought summer visitors to the Sands and Maxwell pier to be greeted by the village band. By the early 1900's commercial vessels ceased to visit and, with the bridging of the channel in 1926, the commercial use of the harbor reverted to fishing tugs.
Erected by Pentwater Historical Society.
Location. 43° 46.653′ N, 86° 25.981′ W. Marker is in Pentwater, Michigan, in Oceana County. Marker is on Touch for map. Marker is at the Pentwater Municipal Marina, across the street from the water tower. Marker is at or near this postal address: 519 South Hancock Street, Pentwater MI 49449, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Graveyard of Ships / Veterans' Day Storm (a few steps from this marker); The Lumber Industry (within shouting distance of this marker); Brass Anchor (within shouting distance of this marker); Pentwater Wire Products (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Lites Drug Store (about 600 feet away); White Elephant (about 700 feet away); Gustafson's (approx. 0.2 miles away); Pet Hollywood (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pentwater.
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on August 18, 2017. This page originally submitted on August 18, 2017, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan. This page has been viewed 58 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on August 18, 2017, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan.