Sand Hill City

Grand Haven Tribune Article Compilation

Spring Lake Iron works

Keywords:  iron, furnace, Fruitport, Pentland, Hinton

From:  “Grand Haven – Day by Day” project

 By Bob Beaton     March 10, 2009

May/June, 1891

“…It is a well known fact that the iron industry is being rapidly developed along the east shore of Lake Michigan, on account of its easy and cheap communication with the mines of the northern peninsula. Spring Lake is one of the best points on the shore for that industry. Her superior natural advantages alone form an inducement to manufacturers to locate there, unparalleled by any other town in Michigan. Added to all this, the enterprising property holders make the liberal offer that to any manufacturer employing fifty men the year around, they will give a splendid site with water front and competing railway and water transportation facilities.’ 

[Excerpt from Hi Potts On the Road Grand Rapids Democrat 1891 article presented in full in Sand Hill City’s “Grand Haven – Day by Day” project May/June 1891.  See Online Newspaper Version, Special Feature Section]



  The propeller Street, commanded by that popular captain, Thomas McCambridge, arrived in port last night loaded with about 800 tons of iron ore for the Spring Lake Iron company.



   The Street arrived yesterday from Escanaba iron-ore laden for the Fruitport furnace.



   Will Loutit went to Fruitport this morning to superintend the fitting up the buckets at the furnace so as to be ready at the opening of the iron ore trade.



   John Massicote, laborer formerly in the employ of the Spring Lake Iron Company at its smelting furnace at Fruitport, commenced suit in the Muskegon County Court Saturday for $10,000 damages.  He was injured Feb. 26 while wheeling ore from the dock to the furnace hoist, a pile of frozen ore falling upon him and breaking his arm so as to permanently cripple him.



   The steam barge Francis F. Hinton arrived on Tuesday with a load of stone for the pier.  Yesterday morning she went to Fruitport and cleared for Milwaukee last night with a load of pig iron.



   The steambarge Francis Hinton carried 500 tons of pig iron from Fruitport to Milwaukee on her last trip.



   A visit to the docks and piers this morning showed the largest storm bound fleet in port, of the year.  All the vessels that were here yesterday were still in port today, and two additions, the schooner Archie McDonald of South Haven and the schooner Green of Benton harbor.  The big schooner Rogers of Sandusky is also with the fleet, having come down from Fruitport with a load of pig iron.



   B. F. Lamoreux, a merchant in Fruitport, was a guest in the New Lexington yesterday with his wife.  “Fruitport is doing nicely,” said Mr. Lamoreux.  Our principle industry is the iron furnace.  That gives employment to a large number of men, but is running slow at present on account of the scarcity of charcoal.  However, that is something that will probably be temporary and then things will boom again.—G. R. Democrat.



   It is generally reported that the barge McGregor will go into the iron ore trade between Fruitport and Escanaba next season.



   The barge Mary A. McGregor which has served as a consort to steamer Boyce in the iron ore trade from Escanaba has been chartered by William R. Loutitt, will be converted into a steamer and next year go on the Chas. A. Street’s old route between here and Escanaba in the ore trade.  A fore and aft compound engine with cylinders 21 and ½ inches in diameter and 36 inch stroke is being built for her at the Trout Works in Buffalo.  Johnston Bros. will build the boiler which will be 12½ feet in diameter and 12 feet long, capable of a working pressure of 125 pounds.  Early in the Spring the McGregor will be towed to Milwaukee to have her bed plate and shafting put in, after which she will be returned here and the boiler and engine set up.



   A horse belonging to the Fruitport Iron Co., was drowned in Spring Lake Wednesday.  A team had been hitched to snow plow to make a road on the ice.  The ice broke and one of the horses went under and drowned.



   John Massicotta of Muskegon is suing the Spring Lake Iron Co., for $10,000 damages for a broken arm, in Muskegon on circuit court.



   The Spring Lake Iron Co. has put up a very large quantity of ice this winter.



   The Spring Lake Iron Co. has put up a very large quantity of ice this winter.



   The iron ore boat went up to Fruitport yesterday.



   The steamer Mary A. McGregor left at 2:30 this afternoon for Escanaba on her first trip of the season in the iron ore trade between the Fruitport furnace and Escanaba.  Her route is the same that the Chas. A. Street covered last year.  Capt. Thomas McCambridge, who commanded the Street, is captain of the McGregor.  The McGregor was built here in 1889 by Duncan Robertson as a tow barge and she sailed for the past several seasons as a consort to the Mary H. Boyce.  This winter she was converted into a steamer.



   This has been a busy day in Judge Pagelson’s court.  Drunks and vags to the number of four received sentence.  John McGovern who gave his occupation as an iron worker was sent up for five days for vagrancy.  Robert Thomas, drunk, 8 days, John Winter, vag, 7 days, Thomas Jones a carpenter for vagrancy was sent up for 10 days.



   Michigan is first in iron ore, lumber, furniture, salt, charcoal, iron, gypsum, farm products, fruit and peppermint.



   The annual customs report as published yesterday shows that 375 vessels entered and 386 took clearance papers from here last year.  The tonnage arriving amounted to 306,225 tons and clearing 307,288 tons.  These figures do not include the Goodrich boats, the iron ore boats, or the vessels that obtain brick near Fruitport.  The record of those vessels is kept at the original clearance port.  If their tonnage was figured in, Grand Haven would undoubtedly be far ahead of any port in the district.  As it is Manistee and Montague were the only ports that exceeded her last year.



   The steamer Pentland will have the capacity to carry 1400 tons of iron ore.



The Pentland.

   Grand Haven shipyards have built many fine vessels for the lake commerce but none more substantial or of finer model than the Pentland.  All last summer hundreds of men were employed in building this fine ship which was launched from the yards of the Grand Haven Ship Building Co., in the early autumn.  The vessel was built for Wm. H. Loutit of this city and nothing was spared to make it a ship worthy of the yard from which it came.

   During the winter the machinery has been placed in the vessel and everything put in readiness for the opening of navigation.  Yesterday she was towed to Robbins dock and coaled up.  She will be idle for a number of days yet but ready to go out at any time.

   The Pentland is 200 feet long, beam 35 feet, and her hold is 14 feet deep.  She has the capacity to carry about 1400 tons of iron ore; an immense cargo.  The engine, which was built by Frontier Irion Works of Detroit is a 20 and 24, 38 inch stroke.  The boiler is a home product, having been constructed by Johnston Bros. of Ferrysburg.  It is 13 feet square.        

   All the latest improvements in vessel machinery are to be found on the Pentland.  Her steam steering outfit and electric fog horn are examples.  Only one other boat built at Grand Haven is steered by steam and that is the Ionia.  When the Pentland encounters a fog bank the electric device that controls the fog horn can be set to blow the horn at the intervals wished for.  The electricity is from a storage battery in the forward part of the ship.

   The officers and crew will have all the conveniences and comforts to be wished for.  The cabins and sleeping apartments are bright and airy.  In the after cabin will be located the dining rooms, refrigerators, kitchen and sleeping apartments of the cook, engineer, etc., etc.  The rooms have all been nicely carpeted by VandenBosch & Bro.  In the forward cabin are the rooms of the captain, mate and wheelsman.  The captain’s rooms above are commodious and handsome, the walls being of sycamore and the grain showing off beautifully.  All the rooms will be heated by steam.

   Besides the propelling engine, a hoisting engine is located on the center deck, for the use of hoisting the freight cargoes.

   Capt. T. McCambridge of this city will command the Pentland and John Farnham is chief engineer.



   The United Iron Workers of America have ordered a general strike to begin April 21.



   The other evening the lights of Holland were plainly reflected on the southern sky.  The reflection form the Fruitport blast furnace is visible every evening.



   The condition of the atmosphere last Sunday night, made the electric lights at Grand Rapids, Grand Haven and Fruitport very distinct, and the approach of the electric cars could be seen for miles away by the flash of the electricity from the third rail track and wheels lighting up the whole heavens until one would think an electrical storm was raging.  As the cars passed by, the buildings and tree tops were beautifully illuminated until they could be seen, at least a half mile.  During the blizzard of last week lightning flashed very many times, but Nunica is not “afraid of the cars, let it lightening.



See the article and engraving of the Spring Lake Iron Works that appeared in the Grand Trunk Railway booklet “Headlight Flashes”