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Captain Santa and the Christmas Tree Ship



Captain Santa and the Christmas Tree Ship

"The loss of the vessel known throughout Chicago as the “Christmas Tree Ship” is a symbol of dangers faced by the ships and sailors who braved the storm ridden great lakes in the age of sail." from video introduction



Captain Santa and the Christmas Tree Ship
Captain Santa and the Christmas Tree Ship

The ‘Christmas Tree Boat’ Shipwreck That Devastated 1912 Chicagoans

"Marine archaeologists are beginning to understand what really happened to Captain Santa’s ill-fated ship.

ON NOVEMBER 23, 1912, THE storm sweeping down from the north had ships running for cover throughout Lake Michigan—among them, a three-masted schooner, the Rouse Simmons, filled with thousands of evergreens. Having harvested its load from the coniferous forests of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Rouse Simmons was eagerly anticipated at its regular berth along the Chicago River. But with no sign of the ship by Thanksgiving, five days later, families of the crew began to fear the worst.

Reports soon reached Chicago of a distressed but unidentified schooner, spotted on the 23rd, seen limping its way along the Wisconsin coast. By December 4th, the city woke to heart-wrenching reports of orphaned trees washing up onto lakeside beaches, driving local anxiety to a fever pitch. A crew member—who had refused to board the Simmons in Michigan for its return south—had since traveled to the booming city by train, and contacted the papers with haunting claims that the vessel had been overloaded and unfit to sail: “RATS FLED DOOMED XMAS SHIP,” the banner headline read. Holding out hope that the boat had simply run aground while seeking safe harbor, the search for survivors continued for weeks. A December 5th edition of the Chicago American, however, did not mince words. “LOST HOPE FOR SHIP,” it blared. “SANTA CLAUS BOAT LOST.”..from the article: The ‘Christmas Tree Boat’ Shipwreck That Devastated 1912 Chicagoans



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