When Chicago's Christmas trees came on barges

December 16, 2010

Produced by Eight Forty-Eight

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(Wisconsin Historical Society/Tamara Thomsen)
The Rouse Simmons delivered Christmas trees to Chicago until it sank in Lake Michigan in 1912.

Nearly a century ago, residents would stand along the Clark Street bridge awaiting the arrival of ships that would bring a cargo of Christmas trees. One of the most famous vessels was the Rouse Simmons.

Rochelle Pennington has written a number of books about the ship and its captain, Herman Scheunemann, including "The Christmas Tree Ship: the Story of Captain Santa."

In 2006, WBEZ’s Steve Edwards spoke with Pennington who says the Christmas ships that traveled Lake Michigan were a long-awaited tradition.