Early Lake Superior Detroit Free Press,
July 14, 1847
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Sail Craft on Lake Superior

We notice in some of our exchange papers, various accounts of the number of vessels on Lake Superior, which are very imperfect. Many seem to be under the impression that until a few years past, there was no vessel of any considerable tonnage on that Lake. This is an error.

As early as 1808, the fur companies owned two or three schooners that navigated those waters. Mr. Houghton,* in his excellent work on the minerals of that section, gives an account of several. The schooner Recovery belonged to the British North-Western Company, before the last war. As soon as the two countries were known to be at odds, a stratagem was resorted to in order to save her. She was secreted in a narrow bay, on the north side of Isle Royal, and stripped of her spars, and covered with brush wood, where she lay until peace was declared. She was afterwards run down the rapids of the Ste. Marie, and used in the lumber trade on Lake Erie, by Capt. Fellows. Her hull now lies off Fort Erie.

The schooner Mink was in commission there before the war. She was also run down the rapids, and Tom Hammond, an officer who served under the gallant Perry on Lake Erie, employed her as a freighting craft for some years in this vicinity. She was finally sunk in the river Rouge, a few miles below us.

The third vessel from Lake Superior, which had been employed there - name not recollected - was run down the rapids, and unfortunately went to pieces.**

From 1815 to 1822, we learn from Mr. Houghton, the lake was navigated by only a small schooner.

Some twelve years since, the fur business was again prosecuted with much success, and the American Fur Company built the Astor, of 112 tons. Her timber was got out at Charleston, Ohio, in the fall of 1834, and shipped to the Soo in the spring following, by Oliver Newberry, Esq. The timber and plank was carried to the head of the rapids and put together. She was finished in August, and sailed for LaPointe, by Capt. C. G. Stanard, who continued to command her until 1842, when his brother took charge of her. She was wrecked at copper harbor in 1844, where her hull is still to be seen.

In 1837, the Fur Company built two other vessels of some 20 tons each; one of them, however, was never launched. The Madeline was sailed by Capt. Angus, and employed in the fish trade.

In 1838, the Fur Company built the schooner Wm. Brewster, of 75 tons, John Wood, master. Four years after, she was run down the falls, and is, we believe, now on Lake Erie.***

The fleet on the lake is now rapidly increasing. Since the mines on its shore have commenced working, considerable tonnage is required, and will rapidly increase yearly. The present force on that Lake is -

Steamboat Julia Palmer 280 tons

Propeller Independence 280 tons

Schooner Napoleon 180 tons

Schooner Algonquin 70 tons

Schooner Swallow 71 tons

Schooner Merchant 70 tons

Schooner Uncle Tom About 40 tons

Schooner Chippewa About 40 tons

Schooner Fur Trader About 40 tons

Schooner Siskawit About 40 tons

Schooner White Fish About 50 tons

Total, 1,161

The amount of tonnage now exceeds that on all the lakes in 1819.

*Douglass Houghton, first Michigan state geologist, who is generally credited germinating the copper and iron industries in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

**Probably refers to the Astor schooner FUR TRADER.

*** Out of Cleveland in 1850.