Edwin Cookson – Pioneer Lumberman

1880s image of Edwin Cookson. Photo courtesy of Anthony Perkins

1880’s image of Edwin Cookson. Photo courtesy of Anthony Perkins

            Edwin Cookson was born in Greenfield, Maine, in May of 1854. He was the second oldest child in a family of six boys and 2 girls. His parents, Joseph and Maria Cookson owned a farm in Greenfield, but all of their sons worked as loggers and river drivers in Maine.

            During the early 1870’s Edwin Cookson migrated west to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. There in 1878 he responded to a “Help Wanted” ad posted in the Oshkosh papers. Ebenezer James was seeking laborers to work at the James Brothers sawmill east of Manistique.

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Last Log Drive of Big Pine Era – 1929

Log Drive on the Manistique River (1890s Photo()

Log Drive on the Manistique River (1890’s Photo)

           In July of 1929, the largest remaining stand of Michigan’s virgin white pine forest floated down the Manistique River toward the Stack Lumber Company sawmill in the town of Manistique. The giant pine had been scattered over 3,200 acres of swampy forest at the head of the Driggs River, a tributary of the Manistique River—in an area previously considered too inaccessible for logging operations. The 1929 drive included 600,000 feet of Norway and white pine, 1,000,000 feet of hemlock and 800,000 feet of hardwood (birch, oak, maple, elm and basswood). The log drive marked the end of big pine lumbering in Michigan which began along the Saginaw River valley in 1833. Once thought inexhaustible, the great pine forests were all logged off in Lower Michigan by 1895 and in Upper Michigan by 1905. A total of 190 billion feet of lumber had succumbed to the woodman’s axe.

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The Flood Of 1920-Palm Sunday

The Flood Of 1920-Palm Sunday (March 28th, 1920) Manistique, MI-The most catastrophic event to occur in Manistique other than the fire of 1883 was the flood of 1920. Floodwaters began pouring over the flume walls in the early morning of Palm Sunday, March 28, 1920. The immediate cause of the flood was an ice jam on the Driggs River that backed the river up. When the jam broke, the water and logs in the river rushed into the Manistique River. Since the winter had an exceptional snowfall along with warmer than normal temperatures and several days of rain, the rivers draining into the Manistique River were already swollen. With the torrent of water, a west bank wall broke, causing water to rush over the flume walls and into the west side of Manistique all the way down Deer Street and Chippewa Avenue.

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