Posted: Dec 10, 2013 6:00 PM by Pat Shingleton
The Rouse Simmons sank during a winter gale on November 23, 1912. For 30 years the schooner brought Christmas trees from Michigan and Wisconsin to Chicago. "The Little Blue Book" notes that it would arrive at Chicago's docks in early December, decorated with Christmas lights. The public boarded the ship, purchasing balsam, pine trees, garland and wreaths; dubbed the "Christmas Tree Ship," the ship's captain, Herman Schuenemann, gave trees to poorer residents and was named, Captain Santa. Following the sinking of Rouse Simmons and its cargo of 5,000 trees, the tradition continued. Today, trees grown in Michigan are purchased by the Christmas Ship Committee of Chicago. In December they navigate Lake Michigan, escorted by the U.S. Coast Guard.