1904 Layover in Two Creeks

Ann Arbor Railroad stuck in the ice, undated. 

Ann Arbor Railroad stuck in the ice, undated. 

Imagine having a three week layover in the town of Two Creeks.  As a group of passengers and crew members set out in 1904, little did they know they were about to embark on a journey that people would still be talking about over 100 years later.  

What started off as a normal trip for those aboard the Ann Arbor 1 quickly turned into a traveler’s nightmare as the wooden vessel became caught in the icy waters of Lake Michigan in mid February of 1904.  That year the winter was unusually cold, with temperatures ranging around 20 degrees below zero for many weeks.  The lake seldom freezes over completely but when it does the ice can certainly cause problems for any vessel, even a 260 foot long ferry carrying 24 railroad cars. Bracing the cold, locals came to witness this amazing sight and marvel at the size of the ice surrounding the Ann Arbor.

Soon the Ann Arbor 3 came to rescue the crew and passengers on board.  During the rescue attempt, Ann Arbor 3 also became caught in the icy waters along side its sister ship.  Then, believe it or not, the Ann Arbor 2 was sent in to dislodge the two ice laden vessels.  After nearly becoming stuck itself, this ferry moved out into the clear Lake Michigan water.  Further efforts to release the two lodged car ferries were not carried out because it was believed it would be too costly and ultimately useless at this time. 

After a few days the restless passengers on Ann Arbor 1 were able to walk across the ice and visit the nearby town of Two Creeks.  Most passengers chose to make their way to Two Rivers and board the train heading for Milwaukee.  A brave few decided to wait out the icy waters aboard the ship.  The crew and passengers who remained on the Ann Arbor ships came into town often to get supplies. The local businesses were more than willing to accommodate their lake dwelling neighbors.  It was even reported that a steer was brought up to the boats and butchered right on the ice.   An article from the Two Rivers Chronicle on February 16 said that passengers and crew had been coming into town to get a “hot mixture” at Jos. Lodl’s Tavern.  They also wanted to get their hands on as many recent newspapers as the postmaster could spare.  Lodl was quoted as saying “(I) don’t care how long the boat remains locked in the ice, if the money of those on board only lasts as long.”

On March 8 after nearly 3 weeks of being caught in the ice outside Two Creeks, warmer weather finally aided in the release of the Ann Arbor 1 and 3.  The next time you encounter a delay while on a trip make time to experience the local activities that await you.  Your experience probably won’t compare to an icy layover in Two Creeks, but then you never know!