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      The First Boat Finally Arrives: May 15, 1823

      On May 15, 1823, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft noted that the first vessel navigated through the Straits of St. Marys up to the Sault. The boat contained provisions and a "carnival" of letters. Schoolcraft spent the rest of the day "Reading, reading, reading, big and small, scraps and all."

      The first winter of American occupation in the Lake Superior region was finally over. The last boat of the season left in November 1822. The period of "incarceration", as Schoolcraft termed it, for he and the other inhabitants of the lonely military outpost of Sault Ste. Marie was four-and-a-half months. If there were any doubts that the warm season had arrived, they were put to rest by the mild days, the blooming wild cherry trees and the mosquito. Schoolcraft noted the appearance of the pesky creature on May 30; right about on the schedule kept by the 21st century version of the bloodthirsty parasite.

      I imagine boats would have taken until at least early May to get through the lingering ice if this winter had occurred back in the pioneer days. The latest visible satellite image from yesterday (above), however, shows much less ice on the lake than even a week ago. The final reminder of the severe winter of 2013-14 is almost gone.