The Christmas Tree Schooner of Chicago and the Ship Delivering Trees Today | North Coast Chronicles

December 24, 2021

How the Christmas Tree Ships changed American Christmas

The Rouse Simmons was the original "Christmas Tree Ship" that came to Chicago at the beginning of the holiday season for over 30 years in the early 1900's.  The ship was a three-masted schooner that was easily recognized by waiting crowds when they saw a Christmas tree tied to her main mast and her decks loaded with thousands of Christmas trees destined for Chicago families. The story of the beginning of the Christmas Tree Ship is the story of the Schuenemann family, particularly Capt. Herman Schuenemann and his last ship, the Rouse Simmons, that was lost with all hands. She was last seen on November 23, 2012, between Kewaunee and Two Rivers Wisconsin, with distress signals flying. Join Dr. Theodore Karamanski from Loyola University Chicago and CAPT Scott Smith (USCG, ret), as host, Helen Brohl, gathers the history of the Christmas Tree Ship tradition in Chicago that still lives today on this special holiday episode of North Coast Chronicles!


Show Transcription
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Helen Brohl

Helen Brohl is a Great Lakes gal, having grown up on the south shore of Lake Erie and a lifetime of summers on Middle Bass Island. Helen understands the Great Lakes as a valuable resource with a Master's Degree from The Ohio State University in Great Lakes Land and Water Use Policy and as an economic engine for the nation with almost 40 years of experience in maritime transportation and trade development. Helen previously worked as professional staff on the U.S. Congressional House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee, with NOAA's Office of Coast Management, did trade development for the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, was the Director of Marketing for the Port of Chicago, the Executive Director of the U.S. Great Lakes Shipping Association, and is currently the Executive Director of the U.S. Committee on the Marine Transportation System in Washington, DC. Follow along as Helen shares the nature, folk lore, and charm of the Great Lakes!