In the spring of 1920, a heavy snow pack, warm weather and recent rains combined with the construction of a flume for the new Manistique Pulp and Paper Company to create the worst natural disaster in Manistique history.
The flood started when an ice jam broke on the Driggs River upstream on Palm Sunday, March 28, 1920. All the water flowed downstream into the Manistique River, breached the flume, and eventually broke part of the flume wall on the west bank.
â??The water on Deer Street, which runs right in front of our water tower was about three feet deep and thereâ??s many stories being told about the fish that were caught by hand on Deer Street during that time frame,â?? said Vonciel Leduc, President of the Schoolcraft Historical Society.
The water rushed through the west side of Manistique flooding homes and businesses alike. The Goodwillie Box Factory was a total loss and would never reopen.
A number of factors conspired to cause the flood, but could it have been prevented?
"There was a dam that broke, but if we had not harnessed the entire Manistique River into these flumes, we probably would not have had a flood at that point and time,â?? said Leduc.
Property damage was estimated at $1.5 million, an enormous sum back in 1920. Nothing like it has occurred since.
â??In about 1960 we had some water that went over the flume walls, but not to that extent. There wasnâ??t anything like the destruction of 1920,â?? said Leduc.