Along the Lake Michigan shoreline is a historical marker near the town of Thompson. It marks the spot where the “Christmas Tree Ship” sailed from with a load of pine trees for Chicago. One of the last shipping schooners to sail the Great Lakes was the Rouse Simmons. The three-masted schooner was built in 1868 to carry lumber. At the end of the sailing season, Captain Herman Schuenemann loaded the ship with Christmas trees from the Thompson forests and delivered them to the port of Chicago. Captain Schuenemann was known there as Captain Santa and the Rouse Simmons had a pine tree tied to the top of the mast.
The Rouse Simmons left Thopmson for Chicago on November 22, 1912. The ship sank in a late November snowstorm near Two Rivers Wisconsin. The captain and crew were never seen again. Captain Schuenemann’s wife and daughters delivered trees to Chicago each Christmas until around 1934. Over the years several books have been written about the “Christmas Tree Ship”
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