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Beyond the Windswept Dunes

The Story of Maritime Michigan

Elizabeth B. Sherman

Publication Year: 2003

Beyond the Windswept Dunes takes the reader into a world of maritime adventure as it was experienced by the sailors, passengers, rescue workers, shipping magnates, industrialists, and many other people whose livelihoods revolved around Michigan’s port city of Muskegon. At one time the leading edge of westward expansion, Muskegon was a place where lumbering and lakers merged and where rails met decks, a place situated midway along the coast of a great and sometimes stormy inland sea. Here Elizabeth Sherman offers both a shipping history and a portrait of the city. The events covered range from the visit by the British sloop H.M.S. Felicity in 1779 through Muskegon’s boom years as "Lumber Queen of the World," from the city’s revitalization with the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway to its recent establishment of a floating museum complex for historic naval vessels. The book’s focus is on the ships themselves—such as the Lyman M. Davis, Salvor, Highway 16, and Milwaukee Clipper—vessels that were noteworthy for being the first of their kind or for their popularity, unusual and distinctive careers, or tragic losses. A number of ships were lost in Lake Michigan near Muskegon Harbor, and the stories of some of the most notable wrecks and rescue missions appear in this book, including the psychic intervention that led the William Nelson to the exciting rescue of the crew aboard the sinking Our Son. The book offers many first-hand statements of shipwreck survivors and other witnesses, lending an authentic voice to the accounts.

Published by: Wayne State University Press

Series: Great Lakes Books Series


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p. 1-1

Title, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-8


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pp. vii-12

List of Maps and Illustrations

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xiv

I did not intend to write a book. The original plan was to write several articles on ships that frequented Muskegon from the lumber days on and see if the Muskegon Chronicle or a maritime journal would be interested in publishing them. However, as I dug into the books and microfilm in the basement of Muskegon’s Hackley Public Library, I realized there was a tremendous wealth of information, stories, and other “dirt”—much more than could be adequately covered...

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pp. xv-xvi

I am indebted to a number of people who assisted and encouraged me in the writing of this book. First of all, I wish to thank my aunt, Sue Wierengo, who suggested I turn my early research into a more extensive article or series of articles. At the time, neither of us knew what would evolve. There are a few people whom I came to rely on for assistance on a number of issues or who had access to little-known facts that I needed. Many thanks to Barbara Martin, archivist at the...

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1. Hewn from the Wilderness: Muskegon’s Earliest Day

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pp. 1-6

The early French explorers and voyageurs of the Great Lakes discovered on their travels that the coastlines of the Inland Seas presented an ever-changing panorama. From the marshy wetlands of western Lake Erie and the St. Clair River flats, to the rocky outcroppings of Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay and the forbidding, yet fantastic Pictured Rocks of Lake Superior, a rich variety of landscapes met their gaze as they paddled their birchbark canoes. Along the way, they envisioned...

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2. Lumber Days on Muskegon’s Waterfront

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pp. 7-52

The village grew gradually from 1840 through the early 1850s into a frontier town known as Muskeego.1 In about 1840, with the fur trade all but dead, the small number of fur traders gave way to another breed of men—a highly transient lot predominantly made up of land speculators and lumbermen who were tempted by the huge expanse of forested land that covered the northern half of the Lower Peninsula. The speculators followed the rivers deep into the wilderness, searching for...

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3. Steamships and Car Ferries of Muskegon

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pp. 53-112

Along the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, the dunes stretch for miles in seeming sameness. But a closer look over time reveals change—sometimes subtle, other times dramatic, but always unstoppable. As in human affairs, change is the one constant in the nature of the dunes. The grains of sand are blown into one formation or another by the winds that come howling down from an arctic air mass or tearing up from the southwest plains. They form new dunes...

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4. Maritime Muskegon in the Twentieth Century

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pp. 113-150

Only a few centuries have passed since Europeans first explored the region, but in that time the people of the Great Lakes have seen tremendous changes in the style and size of the boats and ships that sail these waters, from birchbark canoes to car ferries and thousand-foot freighters. These changes took shape as the Industrial Revolution brought a number of technical inventions and, once armed with the technology, ship architects and builders designed and launched innovative craft. Changes in ship design also developed in response to the types of cargo transported...

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5. Muskegon Today: New Ships and Old

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pp. 151-154

Commercial shipping in Muskegon has slowed considerably over the last few decades. While foreign vessels often came to call in the 1960s, hardly any do so now, their owners wanting to avoid the extra expense incurred in making frequent stops around the Great Lakes. Lakers enter the port on the average of four or five times a week, unloading coal for the B. C. Cobb generating plant...

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Poem: The Good Captain

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pp. 155-156

Ships and maritime life on theGreat Lakes have inspired many poets and songwriters over the years. In July 1915, William D. Totten, an attorney from Seattle, was a passenger aboard the Goodrich steamer Alabama, at that time commanded by Captain W. E. Franklin. He later penned a poem titled “The Good Captain,” which he dedicated to the shipmasters of the Goodrich...

Appendix A: Angus Linklater/The Granada

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pp. 157-158

Appendix B: Capt. J. D. Dunbar/The R. B. King

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pp. 159-160

Appendix C: Frank Dulach/The Waukesha

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pp. 161-164

Appendix D: Frank Dulach Reiterates

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pp. 165-166

Appendix E: Toronto Evening Telegram/The Lyman M. Davis

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pp. 167-168

Appendix F: Frank Blakefield/The Erie L. Hackley

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pp. 169-170

Appendix G: “Doc” Ray Cooke/The Alabama

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pp. 171-174

Appendix H: Guy E. Jones/The Naom

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pp. 175-176

Appendix I: Capt. Edward Miller/The Muskegon

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pp. 177-180

Appendix J: Lyman Nedeau/The Salvor

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pp. 181-184


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pp. 185-192


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pp. 193-196


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pp. 197-206


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pp. 207-216


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p. 236-236

E-ISBN-13: 9780814340011
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814331279

Page Count: 216
Illustrations: 60
Publication Year: 2003

Series Title: Great Lakes Books Series