Shipping Timeline

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Construction begins on the 130 ft. bridge pier in Lake Michigan at the end of Lake Street. The pier would later be extended to 1000 ft.  


The first lumber is shipped from the pier. The schooner Arab makes regular trips back and forth across the lake.  


The Schooner Arab shipwrecks twice. The second one is a permanent loss.  


Timbers and planking are cut in the local mill and shipped to Milwaukee where the steamer Arcadia is constructed.

The Arcadia is used primarily to haul lumber.  


Construction begins on a channel between Bar Lake and Lake Michigan and a harbor, so ships can enter the lake and tie up at docks built along the shore line.  


The channel and harbor are completed. Bar Lake becomes a safe harbor for shipping on the Great Lakes.

The pier in Lake Michigan is no longer used.

The Minnehaha wrecks in an autumn gale. Pieces of this 200 ft., 4-masted schooner wash up on the shore near Arcadia.  


At least 507 large vessels use the harbor. Many more smaller, uncounted vessels use the harbor too.  


The combination of lumbering, farming, commercial fishing, other local industry, and good transportation by both rail and ship makes Arcadia a major hub in northwest Michigan.  


At least 514 large vessels use the Arcadia harbor.  


Act of 1902 orders an examination of the Arcadia harbor to estimate the cost of maintaining the piers and channel.

District Officer of the Corp of Engineers states that, for proper maintenance of the harbor, both piers would have to be rebuilt and the north pier extended at a cost of about $90,000. (The harbor was built and maintained privately from 1892 through 1906 for about $75,000.)

In their review of this report, the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors agrees with the District Officer that the expenditure of $90,000 plus $5,000 annually for maintenance is justified by the amount of local commerce. However, the Board decides to dredge the channel for five years at $3,000 per year and decide at the end of that time whether to do more.  


Private interests continue to improve and maintain the harbor, which is free for public use and open from the earliest to the latest dates of navigation each season. Throughout this 13-year period, the channel is dredged properly to a depth of 14 feet, and the piers are kept in good repair. Arcadia's harbor supports interstate commerce between this area and cities across Lake Michigan.  


The US Government begins a program of trying to keep the channel open by dredging only, not by making any repairs to the piers.  


Steamer John D. Dewar, which carried passengers and freight between Frankfort and Manistee since the late 1800's, ends its service in Arcadia.

The John D. Dewar operates between Pentwater and Ludington for a while, is sold to a Chicago parties; and finally burns.

The steamer Arcadia is sold.  


The Pere Marquette, part of the fleet of "black boats," begins carrying passengers and freight between Pentwater and Ludington including stops in Arcadia.

The Steamer Arcadia sinks with all hands: 12 men, the captain's wife, and a girl.  


Large fires destroy practically all of the manufacturing plants.

Severe drought destroys nearly all crops.

The channel deteriorates, and inefficient dredging has made the channel unfit for boats trying to make regular trips.  


Since 1905, nothing is done to maintain or repair the piers. Sand taken out of the channel is soon replaced by sand washing through defective portions of the pier. Boats have trouble using the channel even in calm weather.

Based on the River and Harbor Act of 1909, the harbor is reviewed again. Because of natural disasters and poor harbor maintenance, commerce has declined, and the Corp of Engineers recommends against further maintenance.  


Representatives from Arcadia convince Major Kellor that his unfavorable report should be revised. He agrees to change the report when he can and recommend $5,000 per year for dredging and additional funds for repairing the south pier. He also recommends that the delegation secure a hearing in Washington, D.C.

Hearings before the Board of Engineers on Rivers and Harbors in Washington, D.C. and before the House Committee on Rivers and Harbors go nowhere. However, with the help of local senators, the delegation secures an amendment to the River and Harbor bill in the Senate, which appropriates $20,000 to carry out Major Kellor's promise. Unfortunately, in a conference between members of both houses, the amendment is stricken from the bill because of the unfavorable report on the harbor.

A request for another inspection of the harbor is granted. The people of Arcadia and their government representatives prepare to make a good impression on Major C. S. Riche from the Corp of Engineers in Detroit.

Major Riche arrives late to the inspection and presentations by local business people and politicians; skips the tour and other demonstrations; and heads back to Detroit early because of urgent business. Major Riche delivers an unfavorable report, but Senator Smith secures $10,000 without the support of the Corp of Engineers.  


Following the dredging, sand washes in almost immediately making it difficult to ship a huge potato crop to Chicago. The potatoes are shipped by rail.  


Through the persistence of the Arcadia Developmental Association and Senator Smith, Arcadia receives $20,000 for harbor improvement.  


The piers are repaired but not lengthened. Most of the superstructure of the north pier has washed away. The end of the south pier is broken.

Additional money for harbor repairs is requested, but aid is increasingly difficult to get because of the harbor being blacklisted by the Corp of Engineers.  


Pere Marquette No. 8 is carrying passengers and freight through Arcadia.  


The harbor is closed to all shipping, because shifting sand that filled the entrance is not removed.  


A public notice from the United States Engineer Office in Milwaukee states that as a result of a preliminary investigation, the War Department is considering whether to recommend abandonment of the project to improve Arcadia's harbor. Reason: Lack of commerce using the improvement.

Charles Starke argues that the lack of commerce is due to the neglect of the government to keep the harbor open. He also stresses Arcadia's role in tourism, with 800 summer visitors requiring housing and hotel accommodations and with the Lutheran Walther League's large summer camp.


The Township of Arcadia, with financial assistance from the Waterways Commission and the Accelerated Public Works Program of the Federal Government, reopens the channel between Bar Lake and Lake Michigan and rebuilds the jetties.

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