by Sandra Murzyn
The barometer was falling as Captain Schuenemann entered the open water. The crew and ten lumberjacks brought on board to fell Christmas trees watched from inside the cabin as snow danced through the rigging. Those on duty pulled their collars up against a wind that blew with increasing strength. The spray of the rising seas lashed the Christmas trees on deck. There was nothing the crew could do as their cargo froze beneath a layer of ice. There was concern because any shifting of the frozen cargo could spell disaster.
|The Rouse Simmons|
by Charles Vickery
|"Sailing Into Eternity" by Eric Forsberg|
The snow closed in a final time and the Rouse Simmons vanished from view. Lost from sight of land, the Rouse Simmons slipped beneath the waves.
|"Yuletide Cargo" by Eric Forsberg|
Rouse Simmons arrives in Chicago at the Clark Street Bridge.
|"Christmas Tree Schooner"|
by Charles Vickery
|Captain Schuenemann continued this holiday trade until the fatal foundering, during a winter gale, of his schooner, the Ross Simmons, in which the doughty captain and his crew lost their lives.|
|Historic marker located in Thompson, Michigan.|
The Christmas Tree Ship remained lost until 1971, when the Rouse Simmons was discovered by a diver. The Rouse Simmons rests in 180 feet of water off Rawley Point, Two Rivers, Wisconsin.
|The largest artifact from the Rouse Simmons, its anchor, was raised in the 1970's and sits on permanent display in front of the Milwaukee Yacht Club.|
Various pieces of the wreck have be reclaimed and are on display at the Rogers Street Fishing Village Museum in Two Rivers and the Milwaukee Yacht Club.
|A key chain and cuff links, both carved from one of the initial Christmas trees raised from the sunken ship.|
|Capt. Schuenemann’s twin daughters, Hazel and Pearl Schuenemann, standing among Christmas trees for sale wearing garlands of greens around their necks.|
The tree business was continued by Schueneman's wife and daughters, but the practice of hauling by schooner was replaced by train and road by the 1920's.
|U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw|
Today the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw continues the Christmas Ship tradition each December by carrying about 1,200 trees from northern Michigan to Navy Pier in Chicago, where they are distributed to needy families. http://christmasship.org/
Follow the links listed below for more -
The Christmas Tree Ship: Captain Herman E. Schuenemann and the Schooner Rouse Simmons By Glenn V. Longacre - https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2006/winter/christmas-tree.html
Great Lakes Chanteys - http://schoolbag.info/literature/sea/170.html