In Chicago, the locally famous "Christmas Tree Ship" brought evergreen trees to the Clark Street Bridge each November. Many Chicago residents considered the arrival of the ship as the official beginning of the holiday season. Today, the chore is handled by the U.S. Coast Guard ice breaker ship, the
Mackinaw, which delivers a thousand Christmas trees for needy families.
But, back in November, 1912, after 20 faithful years, the Christmas Tree Ship failed to arrive as scheduled. The ship's owner and captain, Herman Schuenemann, began the fateful voyage in October when the schooner left Chicago and sailed north through Lake Michigan, to port in Upper Michigan. There, the crew went off into the woods for three weeks of cutting evergreen trees, which are loaded onto the ship. With every available space filled with trees, the ship sets out for Chicago in November, 1912. As night falls, a heavy gale begins to blow, and icy Lake Michigan became treacherous. As the new day breaks, the sailors feel relief, but know that more danger lies ahead.
Listen to the tale of one maritime family and their charitable tradition of providing Christmas trees to Chicago children.
Cloudy with a chance of disaster: listen to the entire Storm Stories series from The Weather Channel.
©2007 The Weather Channel Inc. (P)2007 The Weather Channel Inc.