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.

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The Christmas Tree Ships

Chicago may not have an ocean, but we do have Lake Michigan. We are a maritime city. This is one day to remember that tradition, with the story of the Christmas Tree ships.

Around the turn of the 20th Century, the German custom of decorating Christmas trees was taking hold in Chicago. The closest evergreen forests were in northern Wisconsin and upper Michigan.

Each November a few lake schooners loaded up with trees and sailed them down to Chicago. Customers would come over to the Clark Street dock, go aboard a ship, and select their tree. It was fun way for city families to get into the holiday spirit.

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The History of Kitchi-Tiki-Pi (Big Spring)

Thompson, MI -Passengers in-route to Big Springs by railroad.

Thompson, MI -Passengers in-route to Big Springs by railroad.

One of the most popular places for picnic and excursions was to go to the Big Spring at Indian Lake.  Initially, one crossed Indian Lake and then hiked to the Big Spring, but later, there was a narrow-gage railroad that took people from Thompson to the Big Spring.

In 1889, a Mr. Shaw of Manistique began regular trips from his yacht on Indian Lake three times a week with pickups at three different locations.  Big Spring is an oval pool area that measures 300 feet by 175 feet and has a depth of 40 feet. Initially, people built rafts so they could go out into the pond.

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