Early Vessels that Transported Lumber and Pulled Tows
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Early Vessels that Transported Lumber and Pulled Tows
Prepared by Robert J. Nelson
Shown above is one of the very earliest of scenes depicting the loading of sawed cargo on to the three-masted schooner Henry Baldwin and a second, unnamed schooner laying in wait. For fifty years prior to Wachsmuth mill calling it quits in 1924 many a similar scene played out, only on the much expanded waterfront wharfs designed specifically to store planks and lumber products for out-bound shipment. Hereafter follows the narrative of the storied Minnie V., Favorite and Maple Leaf all who played huge roles in the early shipping of timber products from the Bayfield Peninsula.
STEAM TUG MINNIE V: Port to port delivery of forest products in the Great Lakes by schooner was in vogue until the early application of the steam tug, often with consort, [a schooner or barge] in tow. One such tug was the Minnie V. owned by Samuel S. Vaughn, one of Bayfield’s early pioneers. Hank O. Fifield Editor of the Bayfield Press shares the history, statement of work done and miles run by the tug Minnie V for the year 1870 as offered by Engineer Patrick on December 12, 1870.
“The Minnie V. was built at Blackrock, New York New York in 1869, was 38 feet in length, 7 feet in breath and 3 feet deep uphold; capacity hundred tonnage deck five tons. The Minnie V. has one high-pressure boiler 6 feet long, 32 inches in diameter; one high-pressure engine, 7 inch diameter cylinder, with a 6 inch stroke. She has a stanchion deck, with seats fore and aft of the engine; and can comfortably seat 45 passengers. She was purchased in Blackrock, in June 1869 by S. S. Vaughn, of this place, and steamed from there to Bayfield, being the smallest craft that ever passed to the Sault Ste. Marie”.
“Enclosed find statement of work done number of trips made and miles run by the little steam yacht Minnie V of Bayfield for 1870: total trips and miles, 305 trips and 5000 miles, the Minnie V has towed 4500 cords of logs in different rafts; five full loads of wood hay and shingle bolts; towed three different vessels out of the harbor; and taken a large number of full loads of lumber, etc., to the islands.
Ports of call included the following sites; Madeline Island North end with 16 stops, Oak Island, Chapman and Company eight stops; Sand Island 2 stops; Red Cliff 20 stops; Ashland 10 stops; Ashland West side six stops; Pikes Bay 12 stops; Michigan Island lighthouse 2 stops; Bad River 10; Raspberry Island lighthouse one; Bass Island Stone quarry 15; Presque Isle island 6; pleasure trip to Eastern excursion caves, 5; Sand River 4; LaPointe 20; Sioux River 10; Cisco would they i.e. Cornucopia one; Outer Island one; Wood yards Basswood Island 40; McClelland (Washburn area) 12; the Lighthouse Sand Island 1; Onion River 25; Buffalo Bay 20; pleasure trips to Ashland Bay and numerous other places of which no account has been said 50.
STEAM TUG FAVORITE: Early in the summer of 1880, the large stream tug Favorite was purchased in Detroit, Michigan by Fred Fisher, R. D. Pike and Ervin Leihy. The Favorite found employment in towing logs to the mill, lumber vessels and scows between here and Duluth. I. H. Wing, proprietor of the Bayfield Press on June 5, had previously stated, “The Favorite was a splendid looking boat, large and powerful—eighteen inch cylinders, eighteen inch stroke, and a six foot wheel that drew seven feet of water aft. Her tonnage was forty-one. She makes ten miles in an hour with sixty-five pounds of steam. The Favorite’s first pull was when she went to Buffalo Bay at Red Cliff to take on a raft of logs”. She was brought up from Detroit by Captain Andrew Downy, of that city, and a crew of seven men – mate, two engineers, two firemen lookout and a cook. Rough weather was encountered all the way up Lakes Michigan and Superior, fogs and gales alternating. Much difficulty was also experience in obtaining fuel at various places along the route. Her tow, the barge Belle Stevens, was left at Eagle Harbor to work her way into Ashland as best she can. She would also make a good ferry in this place – from, being able to carry with convert from 50 to 75 persons. The Favorite is truly a valuable addition to Bayfield’s fleet. Bayfield Press– I. H. Wing – Proprietor, June 5, 1880
SCHOONER MAPLE LEAF: In March of 1872 Captain Nils Larson built the schooner “Maple Leaf” for R.D. Pike. Captain Larson sailed the schooner, loaded with lumber to many of the great lake ports, but her usual run was to Chicago.  The Maple Leaf not only was a transport but was often offered up by owner R. D. Pike for special civic events, such as the Fourth of July, of which this event was cancelled.
“The Schooner Maple leaf returned from Eagle Harbor Friday, after an unusually quick trip. At this writing she is in Ashland taking on lumber for Duluth. She will not be here to be used in the excursion on Monday next. It seems that the band was a little hasty in issuing its bills – which they assume too much. The understanding with Mr. Pike was that if the vessel arrived here Sunday, when she was expected, he would donate her use to the Bayfield band the next day. He cannot be expected to detain her and her crew three or four days, thereby losing one freight, besides the crew’s wages. To keep the Leaf in Port from Friday until Tuesday would entail a loss of about $150, and perhaps the loss of a large contract. The excursionists, if some other schooner doesn’t come to hand, will have to content themselves with the steamer Favorite alone, or with a scow in tow. But cheer up, repent, and fix up the matter in some way that a day of much pleasure may not be lost to those who look forward to it with such widely anticipation. Bayfield Press, July 3, 1880
Like all the great wooden schooners of her day the Maple Leaf met her maker. In the fall of 1882 the Leaf floundered outside the Iron river in western Lake Superior, thirty miles by water shy of Superior, Wisconsin. Here follows snippets of Captain Pike’s loss.
“The N Boutin [Nelson Boutin’s steam tug] went to Iron river Saturday of last week and returned with Capt. Pike’s lighter (sic) which is wrecked at that point last fall. The lighter was but little damaged and can be repaired at a trifling expense. While there Captain Pike examined his schooner Maple Leaf, which was wrecked at the same time, thinks she can be secured without a great deal of expense. He will make the attempt in a few weeks and if successful will take her to Duluth for repairs.” May 12, 1883 Bayfield County Press
“Capt. R. D. Pike, the well-known and energetic lumber manufacturer Bayfield, did business in Duluth this week. He reports that during the past winter his sawmill was improved at inexpensive over $5000. He will saw about 8,000,000 feet of logs this season. His schooner, the Maple Leaf, which has been lying partially wrecked near the Iron river since last fall, will be raised just as soon as possible, and brought to Duluth where she will be refitted as a tow barge, to concert here after with the tug Favorite, also owned by Captain Pike.” – Duluth Tribune and May19, 1883 Bayfield County Press
“Captain R. D. Pike with a crew of men visited the mouth of the Iron river Tuesday for the purpose of examining his schooner Maple Leaf, wrecked at that point last fall. After a thorough examination the Captain came to the conclusion to attempt to get her off the rocks would be a useless expenditure of time and money, and stripping her of everything of value abandoned her to her fate.” July 14, 1883 Bayfield County Press
 Tales of Bayfield Pioneers: A History of Bayfield, Eleanor Knight, p.25
This history brief was written by Robert J. Nelson. Generously sharing our local history through his research and writing.