Author Rochelle Pennington has written two books detailing one of the most well-known shipwrecks of the Great Lakes. One for adults and one for children documenting Lake Michigan’s Christmas Tree Ship, which delivered holiday evergreens to the citizens of Chicago each Christmas season before it was caught in the “Great Storm of 1912” and subsequently went to the bottom of the lake fully loaded with trees. The captain’s wife, Barbara, along with their three daughters, then carried on for over twenty years afterward in honor of “Captain Santa” and in the spirit of everything he believed in. The ship is still loaded with its cargo today and is a popular Great Lakes dive site.
“It is a story which exemplifies the best of humanity,” said Pennington. “At its heart we find courage, love, generosity, heroism, and the importance of family. The moment I first heard the story of the Christmas Tree Ship, I understood why it had endeared itself to so many people over the years and was still being shared a century later.”
“The ship’s final voyage was not to the bottom of the lake,” added Pennington, “but into the pages of history.”
This true account of Captain Schuenemann and his schooner is considered the “most loved story of the Great Lakes” over the past century. The story has inspired paintings, poems, six different Christmas Tree Ship songs, television programs, a musical performed all over the country titled “The Christmas Schooner,” and a “new” Christmas Tree Ship sailed by the Great Lakes Coast Guard each holiday season as a living memorial.