How Manistee Became a Major East Rim Logging Center

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article originally appeared in the Manistee News Advocate on October 6, 1984.

By 1890, Manistee’s lumber industry had stabilized with an annual production of 250 million board feet of lumber. As other Great Lakes logging centers declined in importance, Manistee tried to expand its industry to include hardwood furniture.

Recognizing these factors, the industry’s leading journal, the Northwestern Lumberman, published the following article about Manistee in early 1890:

“The topography of Manistee bears in its general characteristics, especially when viewed from the lake, a remarkable resemblance to most ports on the eastern shore. of pine and cedar, the conventional government piers along the channel to the port, the lighthouses and the lifeboat station.

“The town of Manistee, which to the outside world comprises the immediate suburbs locally known as Eastlake, Filer City and Stronach, runs along the river and lake, extending inland from the main shore and s’ extending inland for a few kilometers to the head of the lake, where the last named village is located.

“The commercial part of the town proper occupies a narrow plateau parallel to the river, which between its mouth and Lake Manistee is a narrow stream. From this plateau the residential quarter rises quite abruptly 50 to 75 feet and s extends to the right going upstream, towards the main shore of Lake Michigan. A rather singular geological phenomenon here is the presence of a clay formation in the middle of a sandy desert.

“The early days of the place are invested with the usual legendary romance that the poet and novelist threw around the Indian character. Even the name ‘Manistee’ is connected with ‘the spirit of the woods’, and that it has a not purely whimsical foundation can be forged in pretty word pictures that are in no way disagreeable to the imaginative.

“Coming to the more practical matters which concern us in Manistee, a town which is now estimated, together with the named suburbs, to contain about 16,000 people, the place is found to claim pre-eminence in several very important details. asserts that there is today more pine timber belonging to the Manistee Lumbermen’s Tributary than can be claimed by any other point on this shore, if not in the State.

The statement is also asserted with confidence that the ownership of vessels vested in the Manistee parts exceeds that of all other ports on the east coast combined. The biggest and best salt blocks would also be located in Manistee. The place offers six weekly publications, has a good water supply, a library, a reading room, a gymnasium, a public hospital, a complete set of churches, splendid public schools, a fine hall – the gift of Mrs. RG Peters – and other paraphernalia of social and religious advancement all current at the time.

425 River Street, Manistee, MI

Hours of operation: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday (weekdays vary by season)


Contact: Mark Fedder, 231-723-5531

“Of course, Manistee is nothing if not essentially a lumber town, though it has special attractions for other manufacturing industries, especially that of furniture, its resources in this direction being practically inexhaustible. Three well-ordered factories have already been established in this line. , and considering the advantages equaling those of any other point, and their superiority over the majority, the prospects of future additions are certainly very encouraging.

“The Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad was the first to enter the place, beginning operations in 1881. The city’s water works – Holly system – were established the following year. The boom companies of Manistee and Filer City were organized in 1862, the latter to operate on the little Manistee River, a tributary of the lake.These two companies handled from 1869 to 1882 annual inflows ranging from 96,000,000 to 221,000,000 feet and amounting for this period to 2,171,083,714 ft. The annual produce of the mills since 1882 has been about 250,000,000 feet in operation largely at a higher class of invoice stuff.

“In 1881, the first step was taken to develop the salt industry, which has since reached enormous proportions of almost 1,000,000 barrels per year. The deposit in the form of rock lies at a depth of 2,000 feet and would be 35 feet thick.Generally understood, the pursuit of industry is in connection with the sawmills, an alliance necessitated by the economic demands of the traffic.The cheap steam needed for evaporation purposes and the use of otherwise waste pines in the manufacture of the barrels, are essential in the production of salt at the current price to avoid losses.

“Production from the Manistee mills has always found its principal markets in Chicago and Milwaukee, the only automotive-only haulage yard being that of GF Stearns & Co., a reputable and up-and-coming firm. The RG Peters Salt & Lumber La The company does a considerable car-hauling business, but with these two exceptions, it is believed that all of Manistee’s shipping volume is by water.The port’s towing fleet consists of exceptionally fine and powerful tugs. »

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