Saddest shipwreck ever

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Divers in Lake Michigan recently discovered something that could cast a pall over anyone's holiday season: a 94-year-old shipwreck, complete with the personal effects of the 17 men who went down with the ship and the more than 5,000 Christmas trees the ship was carrying. Around the turn of the century, being in the Christmas tree shipping business was a great way to make a seasonal buck -- and undoubtedly make you very popular as you docked at Chicago's harbor.

The captain of the Rouse Simmons, however, never made it to shore. Captain Hermann "Christmas Tree" Schuenmann, as he was known, had some debts to pay that year. As a result, he had loaded the ship down to its absolute maximum weight capacity and got caught in one of those famously unpredictable (and fierce) Lake Michigan storms. The heavy ice that formed on the trees was the straw that broke the camel's back, and on November 13, 1912, the ship went down. Tragically, Hermann's brother August -- also a Christmas tree captain -- had died sixteen years earlier in a similar accident.

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November 27, 2006 - 7:53am
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