About the Weather Vane

Why a Schooner Weather Vane?

The towering figure of the White Lake lumber schooner Ella Ellenwood, which sails atop the World's Largest Weather Vane in Montague, was chosen because it best typifies the colorul but rugged history of this area (see following story).

Before roads and railroads were built in West Michigan, all commerce and most personal travel was done by water transportation. The lumber cut in Michigan in the 1800s was delivered by boat to other Great Lakes ports such as Chicago and Milwaukee, and used to build those great cities in the 19th century.

Coincidentally, the Ellenwood's original dock was situated only a few hundred feet from where the weather vane site is located now near the north shore of White Lake.

The Ellenwood, owned and operated by the Flagstad family of Montague, was a well known lumber schooner of that era and is befitting of the honor of topping the 48 foot tall weather vane. Built by Whitehall Products, the weather vane was donated by that company to the community in September 1984.

The schooner weather vane is dedicated in commemoration of the spirit of the Great Lakes sailors who opened this part of the country to the advancement of civilization.

Statistics of the Weather Vane:

Overall Height 48 ft
Arrow Length 26 ft 2 in
Ship Length 14 ft 3 in
Ship Height 11 ft 7 in
Vane Weight 3500 lbs
Arrow & Ship Weight 800 lbs
Foundation Weight 45000 lbs
Globe Diameter, Large 4 ft 6 in
Globe Diameter, Small 3 ft

The Saga of the Schooner Ellenwood

The 157 ton lumber schooner Ella Ellenwood was built in East Saginaw, Michigan, in 1869. She was purchased by Captain Thomas Flagstad of Montague, a native of Norway who operated the schooner of White Lake.

On the night of October 1, 1901, while bound for Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a load of maple edgings and shingles, the Ellenwood ran aground off Fox Point, about 8 miles north of the Milwaukee harbor. Within hours strong northerly winds and waves began to break up the schooner causing the captain and crew to abandon ship. They made shore safely in the schooner's yawl with the aid of a compass and an anchor light.

By the next day, the Ellenwood's stern and transom were broken away and the hull so badly worked loose that the masts wobbled in opposite directions with each swell. Only the cargo was salvaged. The maple edging in the hold and the schooner were left to the elements.

The following spring, 1902, a portion of the wooden nameplate "Ellenwood" was found inside the White Lake Channel. Incredibly, the nameplate had drifted across Lake Michigan and, by mere chance, or fate, had entered the narrow channel to White Lake and washed ashore. The Ella Ellenwood had found her way home.

The nameplate of the Ella Ellenwood is exhibited in the Montague City Hall. The nameplate was a gift from Mrs. Lee King, a relative of Captain Flagstad. Other descendants of Captain Flagstad still live in the White Lake Area.

»back to Historical Information