A Speech Requesting Appropriations for the Arcadia Channel
By Charles Starke
"To our Hon? Senator Wm. Alden Smith, our Hon? Representative J?C. Mc Laughlin [Michigan's Ninth District] and Major Riche [from Detroit and the Corps of Engineers] :--
"That this community of people highly appreciates the kindly consideration which you are giving it, and the matter which is so dear, to the hearts of all in honoring it with your special visit for investigating conditions regarding our harbor goes without saying, and we all extend to you a most hearty welcome.
"We realize the great importance of this visit, and that upon the impression which you carry away with you and upon the report which will be made to the government depends the future of this harbor and that of the entire community living in the country tributary to it.
"We know of nothing which is materially of greater importance to us all than the maintenance and further improvement of this harbor.
"Thirty-two years ago this large section was a dense forest with here and there a pioneer, who with his family almost entirely shut out from the world ached out a mere existence.
"Enterprising men who foresaw opportunities for business began opening the natural route for commerce by building wharves or piers from the shore into the deep waters of Lake Michigan at various points in order, to facilitate loading the products of the country into boats for the markets on the other side of the Lake, and while these piers were built and maintained entirely by private persons or companies, they were also extensively used by the general public in connection with regular lines of Freight and Passenger boats which plied between these points and the ports on the other side of the lake.
"A pier of this kind was also built at Arcadia in the year 1880, and for all purposes which the owners business required and with proper repairs, it was sufficient for all times.
"But here was a condition which seemed to apply especially to this section:
"The favorable location, surrounded by the splendid fruit and farming lands the water transportation facilities and especially this splendid inland lake of sufficient depth for all boats which now enter our harbor, originally separated from Lake Michigan by only a narrow strip of land attracted settlers, built up this community and encouraged the people to look hopefully forward to that time when a harbor at Arcadia would be a reality.
"The hard and incessant labor which was required in clearing the lands from the heavy growth of timber and the unfamiliarity of the people with the processes of legislation no doubt were responsible in a great measure for the delay in obtaining government assistance. But nevertheless the enterprise of the people prevailed.
"In 1890 one of the enterprising citizens began the building of piers for break-water and opened the channel, and since that time all the lake commerce of this section has passed in and out of this harbor.
"Finally the government lent its assistance by appropriating $15,000.00 for dredging which has been expended.
"I will advance only a few reasons why this harbor should be continued for the use of the people.
"1. The harbor has been used by the general public and by boat lines for over 20 years and through it has been developed important lake born inter-state commerce as evidenced by the gradual increase in tonnage since the opening of this harbor, except for years when severe draughts destroyed all the crops throughout the country and large fires in the village destroyed practically all the manufacturing industries; which however, have been rebuilt increased in capacity and in number.
"2. The maintenance of this harbor and the water route is important
"3. The great difference in the lower freight rates by water as compared with those by rail an[d] all classes of freight and especially to avoid the great loss, inconvenience, delay and additional exhorbitant refrigerator charges by the private car lines on rail shipment of perishable fruit to across the lake markets.
"4. The development of the country the trend of the extensive and expensive system of roads following the natural courses have all been towards this natural outlet, the harbor at Arcadia.
"We do not come to you alone in this appeal. The business men of the two most important cities across the Lake, Milwaukee and Chicago, realizing the great loss which will result to them in the closing of this harbor join us in our appeal to you for further maintenance and improvement through their different commercial associations and I herewith present you letters and resolutions in respect thereto as follows:--
"I assure you gentlemen, that from its early conception until the present time this harbor has been a project for the benefit of all the people and that expenditures and contributions towards it made by individuals have been made in that spirit.
"We all believe that there are few harbors which benefit the community as a whole more than this one does and we hope that the presentation of these facts and your own personal investigation will result in a favorable report and an early and sufficient appropriation for its proper maintenance and improvement by the government."
Charles Starke was the adopted son of Henry Starke, Arcadia's founder. This is the text of a speech Charles gave on August 29, 1910, when he ran the Arcadia Furniture Company.
Remember that this is a speech. It was not intended for any of us to read, but rather to be read to us. As a result, the speech includes errors no one but the orator would have seen. Our notes appear in square brackets ([ ]).