Monday July 15, 1895: Mark Twain's first lecture in this around the world tour, Cleveland, Ohio. He writes of it in a letter:
There were a couple of hundred little boys behind me on the stage, on a lofty tier of benches which made them the most conspicuous object in the house. And there was nobody to watch them or keep them quiet. Why, with their scufflings and horse-play and noise, it was just a menagerie. Besides, a concert of amateurs had been smuggled into the program (to precede me,) and their families and friends (say ten per cent of the audience) kept encoring them and they always responded. So it was 20 minutes to 9 before I got on the platform in front of those 2,600 people who had paid a dollar apiece for a chance to go to hell in this fashion. I got started magnificently, but inside of half an hour the scuffling boys had the audience’s maddened attention & I saw it was a gone case; so I skipped a third of my program and quit. The newspapers are kind, but between you & me it was a defeat. There ain’t going to be any more concerts at my lectures. I care nothing for this defeat, because it was not my fault. My first half hour showed that I had the house, and I could have kept it if I hadn’t been so handicapped. [01:58]
He gave a second show on Tuesday, July 16. [02:04]
Wednesday, July 17th, they board the Great Lakes steamer North Land and head for Sault Ste. Marie. [02:15]
Sam called it an ideal summer trip. Major Pond writes: [02:24]
Our party left Cleveland for Mackinac at seven o’clock. “Mark” is feeling very poorly. He is carrying on a big fight against his bodily disability. All that has been said of this fine ocean ship on the Great Lakes is not exaggerated. Across Lake Erie to Detroit River, Lake St. Clair, and the St. Clair River is a most charming trip. “Mark” and Mrs. Clemens are very cheerful to-day. The passengers have discovered who they are, and consequently our party is the centre of attraction. Wherever “Mark” sits or stands on the deck of the steamer, in the smoking room, dining room, or cabin, he is the magnet, and people strain their necks to see him and to catch every word he utters. [03:24]
Pelee Island, Ontario. Part of a township of nine islands; Middle Island, Middle Sister Island, Hen Island, Big Chicken Island, Little Chicken Island, Chick Island, East Sister Island, and North Harbor Island. Middle Island is Canada's furthest point south. Because of the mild climate, perhaps the mildest in Canada, the island supports vineyards and a wine industry began here in 1860. [04:20]
The ship docked at the Detroit pier for passengers to embark or disembark. Sam was interviewed by a reporter from the Detroit Journal, who wrote: [04:42] There was one striking figure in the crowd of a score or more persons who stood on the forward deck of the big steamer North Land as she drifted up to the dock at the foot of First street yesterday at 4 p.m. It was that of a man past the middle age of life, with bushy gray hair that fell well down upon his coat collar, a mustache of the same color, that was inclined to bristle, and a clear, ruddy complexion. He leaned carelessly over the railing and looked down upon the people assembled on the dock, without displaying any curiosity or interest that was evinced by people who were looking up at him. This man was Mark Twain, the humorist, christened Samuel L. Clemens, and father of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. [05:44]
Mark Twain's last visit to Detroit was eleven years previous , on tour with George W. Cable. [05:55]
The steam ship was the second of two ships: The first, named the "North West," was launched in 1894 and, after test runs, came to Buffalo to be finished and furnished.
According to J.A. Colby & Sons, of Chicago, their company designed the furniture and upholstery for both liners, using mahogany and primavera (white mahogany) in Louis XV Rococo style.
The company described its decor thus:"When we think of the traditional shiny, white cabins we have known so well, this symphony of brown, bronze-green, and gold with the delicate carving and relief work, repeated through such an imposing length of space, all softened by the light of amber-tinted glass, is a marvel... Staircases of white mahogany, with tesselated floors and upholstering of terra-cotta leather; huge plate mirrors; balconies furnished in antique brass; reading rooms no less luxurious; ladies' parlors; men's cafe; smoking rooms; little conservatories; bronze and marble statues; a dining-room like a prince's banquet hall; and staterooms of every conceivable shape and size here…" [07:45]
The "North West" weighed 2,339 tons, was 385 feet long, 44 feet at the beam, and 34 feet from keel to promenade deck. Its hull was painted white, the three smokestacks painted yellow with a black band near the top, the center stack having a white star and the letter "N" to signify the company. Its two quadruple expansion engines generated 7,000 HP. It had a regular speed of 20 MPH with a 16 foot draft. Its two propellers were 13 feet in diameter. The ship consumed eight tons of coal per hour. [08:41]
When the "North West" steamed full speed up the Detroit and St. Clair rivers, its huge size created destructive wakes and shore damage; the ship was subsequently obliged to reduce its speed in these areas. [08:59]
By 1895, the "North Land" had launched, identical to the "North West" except for refinements possible with the newer ship. Both ships maintained service of every three days between Buffalo and Duluth. The regular stops were Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Mackinac Island, Sault St. Marie, and Duluth.
Sam was full of praise for the North Land, and said there wasn’t much about the vessel to remind him of the days when he used to pilot a steamboat on the Mississippi river. “It is the best I have ever seen,” he said, “in the way of passenger boats. The Fall River steamers are more elaborately decorated, but are more like ocean steamers than the North Land, and not so pleasant and comfortable.” [09:57]
Although the British built Fort Mackinac to protect their settlement from attack by French-Canadians and native tribes, the fort was never attacked during the American Revolutionary War.
The entire Straits area was officially acquired by the United States through the Treaty of Paris in 1783. However, much of the British forces did not leave the Great Lakes area until after 1794, when Jay's Treaty established U.S. sovereignty over the Northwest Territory
During the War of 1812, the British captured the fort in the first battle of the conflict because the Americans had not yet heard that war had been declared.
In 1814, the Americans and British fought a second battle on the north side of the island. The American second-in-command, Major Andrew Hunter Holmes, was killed and the Americans failed to recapture the island.
Despite this outcome, the Treaty of Ghent of 1815 forced the British to return the island and surrounding mainland to the U.S. The United States reoccupied Fort Mackinac, and renamed Fort George as Fort Holmes, after Major Holmes.
The fort was used as a prison for three Confederate sympathizers.
John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company was centered on Mackinac Island after the War of 1812 and exported beaver pelts for thirty years.
In the middle of the 19th century, commercial fishing for whitefish and lake trout began to replace the fur trade as the island's primary industry.
Following the Civil War, the island became a popular tourist destination for residents of cities on the Great Lakes. Much of the federal land on Mackinac Island was designated as the second national park, Mackinac National Park, in 1875, just three years after Yellowstone was named as the first national park.
To accommodate an influx of tourists and sport fishermen in the 1880s, the boat and railroad companies built hotels, including the Grand Hotel. Restaurants and Souvenir shops sprang up as a way for island residents to profit from the tourists. Many wealthy industrialists built summer "cottages" along the island's bluffs for extended stays.
And now that the Federal government has left the island, all of the federal land has been given to the state of Michigan. Fort Mackinac is become Michigan's first state park. [13:47]
July 18 Thursday – The Clemens party arrived in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and checked into the Hotel Iroquois. Sam gave his talk at the Soo Opera House.
Friday, July 19th, Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island.
We came by steamer F. S. Faxton, of the Arnold Line.
It was an ideal excursion among the islands. Although it was cold, none of our party would leave the deck until the dinner bell rang. 'Mark' said: 'That sounds like an old-fashioned summons to dinner. It means a good, old-fashioned, unpretentious dinner, too. I'm going to try it.'
We all sat down to a table the whole length of the cabin. We naturally fell in with the rush, and all got seats. It was a good dinner, too ; the best ever I heard of for 25 cents.
We reached the Grand Hotel at 4:30. I saw one of 'Mark's' lithographs in the hotel office, with 'Tickets for Sale Here ' written in blue pencil on the margin. It seemed dull and dead about the lobby, and also in the streets. The hotel manager said the Casino, an adjoining hall, was at our service, free, and the keeper had instructions to seat and to light it.
Dinner time came ; we all went down together. It was 'Mark's ' first appearance in a public dining room since we started. He attracted some attention as he entered and sat down, but nothing especial. After dinner the news-stand man told me he had not sold a ticket, and no one had inquired about the lecture. I waited until eight o'clock and then went to the hall to notify the man that he need not light up as there would be no audience.
The janitor and I chatted until about half -past eight, and I was about to leave when a man and woman came to the door and asked for tickets. I was on the point of telling them that there would be no lecture when I saw a number of people, guests of the hotel, coming. I suddenly changed my mind and told them: 'Admission $1; pay the money to me and walk right in. ' The crowd kept rushing on me, so that I was obliged to ask everybody who could to please have the exact amount ready, as I was unable to change large bills without a good deal of delay.
It was after nine o'clock before the rush was over, and I sent a boy for 'Mark.' He expressed his pleasant surprise. I asked him to walk to the platform and introduce himself, which he did, and I don't believe an audience ever had a better time of an hour and a half. 'Mark' was simply immense. "I counted my money while the 'show ' was going on and found I had taken in $398. When about half through, two young men came to the door and wanted to be admitted for one dollar for the two. I said: 'No; one dollar each; I can not take less.'
They turned to go; then I called them back and explained that I needed two more dollars to make receipts just $400, and said: "'Now, if you'll pay a dollar each and complete my pile, you can come in and enjoy the best end of the performance, and when the 'show' is out, I'll take you down-stairs and blow you off to twice that amount.'
They paid the two dollars, and after the crowd had left, I introduced them to 'Mark,' and we all went down to the billiard room, had a good time until twelve o'clock, and 'Mark ' and I made two delightful acquaintances. This has been one of our best days. 'Mark' is gaining. [04:27]
In 1886, the Michigan Central Railroad, Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad, and Detroit and Cleveland Steamship Navigation Company formed the Mackinac Island Hotel Company. The group purchased the land on which the hotel was built and construction began, based upon the design by Detroit architects Mason and Rice. When it opened the following year, the hotel was advertised to Chicago, Erie, Montreal and Detroit residents as a summer retreat for vacationers who arrived by lake steamer and by rail from across the continent. Rates at the hotel ranged from US$3 to US$5 a night. [05:25]
Grand Hotel's front porch is the longest in the world at some 660 feet in length, overlooking a vast Tea Garden
Saturday, July 20th, Mackinac Island to Petoskey, Michigan.
We hear from Major Pond: Mark is feeling better. He and I left the ladies at the Grand, in Mackinac, and went to Petoskey on the two o'clock boat and train.
The train, The Northern Arrow was one of the named passenger trains of the Pennsylvania Railroad serving St. Louis, Missouri, Cincinnati, Ohio, Chicago, Illinois, and Mackinaw City, Michigan. It used the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad, a leased subsidiary of the Pennsylvania system. The train was frequented by northbound travelers to popular Northern Michigan destinations north of Grand Rapids, Michigan, such as Petoskey, Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island.
The smoke, from forest fires on both sides of the track, is so thick as to be almost stifling.
There is a good hotel there. There was a full house, and for the first time in a number of months I had a lecture room so crowded at one dollar a ticket that many could not get standing room and were obliged to go away. The theatre has a seating capacity of five hundred, but over seven hundred and fifty got in. Mark's programme was just right — one hour and twenty minutes long. He stopped at an hour and ten minutes, and cries of 'Go on! Go on ! ' were so earnest that he told one more story.
From The (Petoskey) Daily Resorter 1895: July 21
A PACKED HOUSE. AND MANY TURNED AWAY. Mark Twain's Entertainment at the Grand Opera House Last Night.
An audience which packed the Grand opera house from the orchestra railing to the top row of the rear gallery greeted Mark Twain when the curtain rose last night. Every seat was sold and over a hundred chairs were brought in to try to accommodate those who wished to see America's great humorist, and even then many were turned away. It was the largest, the most cultured, and the best audience ever seen in Petoskey, the receipts being $524.The lecturer was not at his best last night, having but recently left the bed to which he was confined for weeks with a carbuncle that at one time threatened his life. If what he said were printed word for word it would not seem particularly humorous, but told in his inimitable style it is irresistably funny.
The program last night began with an account of the lecturer's first theft. He thought it was the first watermelon he ever stole, but was not entirely clear on that point.
One of his most graphic descriptions was an account of a boyhood's experience, sneaking into his father's office at midnight to sleep on the couch, where unknown to him a murdered man had been stretched out awaiting an inquest. The people held their breath as a told how his hair rose when he discovered a nameless something on the floor, but the gruesome feeling changed to uproarious hilarity when he told how, when the moonlight finally gleamed upon the corpse, he "went away," taking the window sash with him, "not that I needed the sash, but it was more convenient to take it." The crowd was immensely "tickled" over the story of the jumping frog. An extract from Tom Sawyer, the plan for the crusade, afforded an excellent opportunity for the dialect work of which Twain is a master.
Petoskey was the location of the extermination of the last huge breeding colony of passenger pigeon. A state historical marker commemorates the events, including the last great nesting in 1878. That summer, the breeding colony of Pigeons arrived near Crooked Lake. The flock covered 40 square miles and for three months yielded over 50,000 birds a day to hunters. One hunter reportedly killed 3,000,000 of the birds and according to one account earned $60,000.Records estimate between 10-15 million slaughtered.The passenger pigeon was never again seen in the state after 1889.
Sunday, July 21, 1895: Mark and Major Pond left Petoskey for Mackinac at 5:30am aboard the ferry boat “Islander”.
A 7 1⁄2 mile course to the Island. Neat, nice, comfortable, convenient — none of those words can be applied to any channel boat, those damned offal-scows. They joined the ladies and waited five hours on the dock for the S.S. Northwest to take them to Duluth.
Our course took us through the copper country of the Keweenaw Peninsula and a stop at Houghton, Michigan. When Horace Greeley had said “go west young man” he was actually referring to the copper rush in Michigan's upper pensinsula. [01:16]
Houghton gained importance as a port with the opening of the Keweenaw Waterway in 1873. The waterway was created by dredging out Portage Lake, Portage Shipping Canal and Lilly Pond. This created the new island of Copper Island, the northern tip of Keweenaw Peninsula. In 1854, Houghton was said to be occupied by thieves, crooks, murderers and indians. The increasing demand for copper wiring fueled much of Houghton's development in the 60's and 70's and by 1883 the railroad was extended from Marquette. [02:13]
On and around the Apostle Islands, Lake Superior, Ojibwa people discovered and innovated agricultural advancements, including excavating Copper deposits and creating specialized tools for agriculture, hunting and fishing, the use of canoes in rice harvesting, conjugal collaborative farming, and the Three Sisters Crop Complex, enabling the Ojibwa to greatly expand their population, territory and power outward in all directions creating an enormous nation. [03:01]
These rapid advances in technology, along with five centuries of migration from the east, caused divisive ideological disagreements over traditionalism, and ultimately, the Potowatomi, Ottowa, and other tribes split off, leaving the Ojibwe alone wielding full control over the entire Lake Superior region, with the Islands remaining their power center. [03:33]
All the Mississippi nations' nevertheless considered the area their ancient cultural and spiritual home. When the early French traders arrived around 1640, the capital city on Madeline Island was given the name La Pointe, and by 1693 it was fortified and included as an official Trading Post city in the Empire of New France, but with the westward expansion of European colonialism, conflicts boiled into formal wars from 1775 onward. [04:18]
Over the next 35 years, as more and more Native populations were concentrated into increasingly smaller areas, these areas became unable to provide sustenance for the swelling populations,. [04:35]
On Lake Superior; S. S. Northwest. Major Pond was on deck early and found the smoke all gone. In its place was bright sunshine, but so cold all day that few of the other passengers were on deck. The ship was running eight hours late. They landed in Duluth at just 9 p.m. Mr. Briggs, the correspondent, met them at the wharf with a carriage.
As the boat neared land Briggs shouted: “Hello, Major Pond!” “Hello, Briggs!” “Is Mark Twain all right?” “Yes; he is ready to go to the hall; he will be the first passenger off the ship.” “Good. We have a big audience waiting for him,” said Mr. Briggs. “We’ll have them convulsed in ten minutes,” said I.
“Mark” was the first passenger to land. Mr. Briggs hurried him to the church, which was packed with twelve hundred and fifty warm friends (100 degrees in the shade) to meet and greet him. It was a big audience. He got through at 10:50 and we were all on board the train for Minneapolis at 11:20. [06:00]
Duluth:The opening of the canal at Sault Ste. Marie, in 1855 and the contemporaneous announcement of the railroads' coming had made Duluth the only port with access to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Soon the lumber industry, railroads and mining were all growing so quickly that the influx of workers could hardly keep up with demand and storefronts popped up almost overnight. By 1868 business in Duluth was really booming. "The Zenith City of the Unsalted Seas". In 1869–1870, Duluth was the fastest growing city in the country and was expected to surpass Chicago in size in only a few years. When Jay Cooke, a wealthy Philadelphia land speculator, convinced the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad to create an extension from St. Paul to Duluth, the railroad opened areas due north and west of Lake Superior to iron ore mining. Duluth's population on New Year's Day in 1869 consisted of fourteen families; by the Fourth of July, 3,500 people were present to celebrate. [07:36]
However, Jay Cooke's empire crumbled and the stock market crashed in 1873 and Duluth almost disappeared from the map. Around the start of the 20th century, the city's port passed New York City and Chicago in gross tonnage handled, elevating it to the leading port in the United States. Ten newspapers, six banks and an eleven-story skyscraper, the Torrey Building, were also present. [08:10]
Pond wrote: It was my busy night. The train for Minneapolis was to start at twelve o’clock. The agents in New York who had fitted me out with transportation and promised that everything should be in readiness on our arrival in Duluth, had forgotten us, and no arrangements for sleeper or transfer of baggage had been made. I had all this to attend to, besides looking after the business part of the lecture, which was on sharing terms with a church society. Everything was mixed up, as the door-tender and finance committee were bound to hear the lecture. I could get no statement, but took all the money in sight, and was on board the train as it was starting for Minneapolis .