Saturday, September 17, 2011


Still, cool morning on Detroit Harbor

Washington Island, Wisconsin -

The air is decidedly fall air.  Cool days with high pressure, and ever cooler nights.  Time to get caught up with items at work and at home, including some loose ends with this blog.

A few days prior to the Labor Day weekend I swept cobwebs off the Moby Dick and ferried Jim and Kathleen Morris to Detroit Island where they met Dr. Rod Johnson and his friend, mason and all-around handy assistant Dave Schmelzer.  Rod lives on the tip of Detroit Island known as Richter's Point where at the turn of the last century there was a fishing village of considerable activity.  A number of fish tugs moored there and their owners had cottages and sheds nearby, and a place to process fish.  At one time, according to Rod, there was a small railway to move the net boxes and the carriers of fish from the dock to a concrete block processing building.    In the ensuing century, the wooden structures have fallen in and rotted to the ground, but certain of the cement buildings and revetments are still there, even after some vigorous bulldozing by Ed Anderson as he began to develop lots on Detroit Island in the 1950s.

Rod, who has spent summers for the past 25 years on Richter Point, east of the Ferry Dock, moors his steel ketch to the old fishing dock.  Underneath that dock - or should we say, a major underpinning for that dock - is a cast-off boiler from a steam-powered tug, along with other cast iron parts.   While rummaging on the beach years back, Rod uncovered a cast iron piece that must have also come from a steam tug.   When asked my opinion, I thought the piece he showed me was a steam engine, but then I waffled and thought it could be a steam-powered water pump.  The only identifying marks are on a small brass plate:  5 x 3 1/2 x 5 1/2, which must refer to the bore sizes of the twin pistons.

Jim and Kathleen Morris with Dr. Rod Johnson.
Dave Schmelzer in background.
This will likely be an easy challenge for any steam engine buff out there, so let's hear from you!

Kathleen is the Director for the Jackson Harbor Fishing Museum, and following Rod's offer to donate this piece of old machinery, she and husband Jim (who came alone to handle lines and help move the piece from shore to pontoon boat) joined me to inspect this piece.   Rod estimated it might weigh in excess of 400 pounds.   The four of us wheeled it across planks spanning the difference to the Moby Dick's deck, where we took a few photos to remember the occasion.  (photo shows the piece alongside the Jackson Harbor museum.)

Motorcycle Trip Shortened

I've often thought that planning and looking forward to a trip is almost as good as the trip itself.  In the case of a planned motorcycle trip to North and South Dakota, which we began September 6, the morning following Labor Day, planning proved to be the primary reward.

After 415 miles that first day - perhaps a bit long of a ride - Mary Jo experienced vertigo before we
Steam engine, or steam powered
water pump?
checked out from our hotel, about 15 miles northwest of Minneapolis.  After recuperating for the remainder of the morning, and being hesitant to continue on, much less get back on the motorcycle again, we turned around and returned as far as Wausau, then home the following day.  There will be other opportunities, we think, to make this trip, even if by car.

A bonus, of sorts, is that when we arrived home the weather was quite nice, and with Mary Jo still not feeling 100%, I rededicated my efforts at painting our house.   In the next five days I pretty much completed that task, with only storm windows and a small amount of trim left to do.  This was a good project to put behind me as I think more about having to pick up fallen leaves at our home on Main Road...still for sale, still without serious interest from a buyer.  

Big Tree Search Continues 

Still fresh from a trip to Plum Island where we sought large hemlocks to measure, and found a Door County champion, I motored over to Detroit Island late one afternoon with friend Steve Schwandt.  I knew of a cedar not far from the boat landing, near the graveled road that winds its way southeastward through the island.  At one time, we had property near this tree, adjacent to WDNR land where the tree actually grows.   

Using my rough estimations and measurements, this cedar does not appear to be the largest in Door County, but it might be within the top five measured trees on a list kept current by Roy Lukes.  This tree, which appears quite healthy, owes its girth to the unusual slant of the trunk, and the fact its location is inland and well-protected from brutal winds that can pound the shoreline.  Steve Schwandt, who is 6'5", gives a good comparison of size standing next to the tree.

  - Dick Purinton

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is a pump either for general service or more likely for boiler feed. I would say it came off the L.P. Hill when she was converted to diesel and kept as a spare for other steam ships.

Dave Foss
P.S. Happy Birthday