On the Manistee River

On the Manistee River

The surface level of Lake Michigan can vary by as much as five feet in a non-periodic cycle governed by weather. The year 1903 was a period of exceptionally low water which caused significant problems for the large freighters carrying cargoes from Manistee. In early June of that year, the 180-foot steamer 'Marion,' outbound with 7,000 barrels of salt, did not make it over the sand bar at the foot of Oak Street in Manistee. In this photo, taken at 9:00 a.m. by Jennie E. Smith, cargo is being transferred to the schooner 'Quickstep' from the 'Marion' to lighten the vessel and float it off the sand bar. The larger 'Minnie E. Kelton,' loaded with 6,600 barrels of salt is tied to the Maple Street Bridge waiting for the 'Marion' to get out of the way. All three vessels were underway June 5th. Table salt was manufactured by the lumber companies of Manistee using the waste wood produced by the mills to produce steam to evaporate brine. Since energy was the primary cost of table salt manufacture, the product produced large profits for Manistee industrialists.

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