Manistique’s Great Fire of September, 1893

Pictured above is a circa 1890 photo of the corner of Cedar and Walnut Street in Manistique. The great fire of 1893 began in the rear of Paul Rediker’s Saloon on Walnut Street and quickly spread to adjacent buildings.

Pictured above is a circa 1890 photo of the corner of Cedar and Walnut Street in Manistique. The great fire of 1893 began in the rear of Paul Rediker’s Saloon on Walnut Street and quickly spread to adjacent buildings.

          The great fire began at 11:15 in the evening on September 15, 1893. The undisputed cause of the fire was arson. Blue vaporous flames were seen leaping from the ground to the roof in the rear of the Alexander Richards building on Walnut Street. Splashing liberal amounts of either gasoline or coal oil against the side of the structure, the arsonist applied a match and disappeared into the shadows. The culprit was never brought to justice and his motive forever unknown.

          Citizens spotted the flames almost immediately and turned in an alarm—but when the fire department arrived they confronted a raging inferno. All of the businesses and residences on Walnut Street were constructed with wood and were extremely dry.  Gale force winds out of the northwest spread fiery embers to nearby buildings on Walnut Street and to businesses on Cedar Street. The Richards building, which was occupied by the Paul Rediker Saloon, was soon transformed into a pile of ashes. Occupants on the second floor of the building barely escaped alive.  Other businesses on Walnut Street including saloons owned by Antowine Vassau and Fenton Gorman, along with the John Hackenbrach and Robert Knudson barbershops, the Bebeau Brothers livery and the John Kirstine tailor shop soon succumbed to the flames. Read More...

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. Read More...

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. Read More...