Christmas Tree Ship
The Rouse Simmons was one of the last schooners on the Great Lakes. Built in 1868 to carry lumber, the three-masted vessel became Chicago's "Christmas Tree Ship" when Herman Schuenemann purchased an interest in it in 1910. Around 1876 the Schuenemanns had begun transporting trees from northern Michigan and Wisconsin to Chicago. In November 1898 Herman's brother August perished in the wreck of the schooner S. Thal, but Herman continued the business. Bound for Chicago on November 22, 1912, he boarded the Simmons which was loaded with trees from Thompson's forests, and sailed into a fierce snowstorm that plunged the ship, and its crew and passengers, to the lake bottom. Herman's wife and daughters delivered trees to Chicago each Christmas until around 1934.
The Delta Lumber Company of Detroit, headed by E.L. Thompson, platted the village of Thompson in 1888. Seven different lumber companies ran the mill in the village. By 1907 the population had reached 900. Three churches and four saloons served the residents, as did a general store, a hotel, and a hospital. Stagecoaches carried passengers twice daily to nearby Manistique, located along the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railway. The Thompson
Railroad, used primarily for hauling logs to the docks, also took tours to the Big Spring, Kitchi-ti-ki-pi. Lumbering activities in Thompson died out quickly, and by 1919 the town's population had dropped to only 150. Thompson was the last port of call for the "Christmas Tree Ship," Rouse Simmons, which sank in 1912.