Home of the World’s Largest Weathervane
Originally the World Largest Weathervane was located on
a man-made peninsula that jutted out into the waters at
the Northeast end of White Lake where the White River
empties its waters. After nearly 20 years,
problems encountered with sinking foundations required
that the famous structure be relocated to a safer
World's Largest Weathervane currently is situated in
Ellenwood Park in downtown Montague. The park has a
quaint look resembling town squares of yesteryear and is
a fitting location for this famous structure.
towering figure of the White Lake lumber schooner “Ella
Ellenwood” which sails atop the World’s Largest
Weathervane was chosen because it best typifies the
colorful but rugged history of the area. 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
1800’s was delivered by boat to other Great Lake ports
such as Chicago and Milwaukee and was used to build
those great cities in the 19th century.
Ellenwood, owned and operated by the Flagstad family of
Montague, was a well known schooner of the era and is
befitting of the honor of topping the 48 foot tall
weathervane. The weathervane was built and donated
to the community in 1984
by the Whitehall Metal Studios, Inc. (now Whitehall
Products LLC) which is located in downtown Montague just
one block away.
Coincidentally, the Ellenwood’s original dock was
situated only a few hundred yards from where the
weathervane site is located today. The schooner
weathervane is dedicated in commemoration of the spirit
of the Great Lakes sailors who opened this part of the
country to the advancement of civilization.
SAGA OF THE SCHOONER "ELLENWOOD"
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 out of White Lake.
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 eight 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.
next day, the Ellenwood's stern and transom were broken
away and the hull had so badly worked loose that the
masts wobbled in opposite directions with each swell.
Only the bark cargo was salvaged. The maple edgings in
the hold and the schooner were left to the elements.
following spring in 1902, a portion of the wooden
nameplate "ELLENWOOD" was found inside the White Lake
Channel. Incredibly, the nameplate drifted around Lake
Michigan and by mere chance, or fate, entered the narrow
channel to White Lake and washed ashore in White Lake.
The Ella Ellenwood had found her way home!
115-year-old nameplate and a scale model of the
Ellenwood are exhibited in the downstairs lobby of the
Montague City Hall. The nameplate is a gift from Mrs.
Lee King, a relative of Captain Flagstad. Other
descendants of Captain Flagstad, now spelled Flagstead,
still live in the White Lake area.