Michigan Roadside Attractions: World’s Largest Weathervane in Montague
Michigan Roadside Attractions is a periodic feature on Travel the Mitten that will explore the many interesting things that can be found on the highways, byways and back roads of Michigan, ranging from the interesting to unusual.
Our Roadside Attractions feature has shown off many of Michigan’s large, quirky and notable things over the past two years, and today we’re back with another one: the World’s Largest Weathervane can be found in Montague, Michigan near White Lake. This steel weathervane stands 48 feet tall, with an arrow that is a little longer than 26 feet topped with a schooner that measures 14′ 3″ by 11′ 7″. This unique Michigan monument can be found at the corner of Dowling St. and Water St. in front of local grocery store Montague Foods.
The story of the schooner on top of the weathervane is detailed on one of several informational signs in this small park. “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 operate the schooner out 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 bark cargo was salvaged. The maple edgings 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 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! This 115 year old nameplate and a scale model of the Ellenwood is exhibited in the 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.”
The World’s Largest Weathervane was built in 1984, and has been a source of pride for the surrounding community since. Another informational sign notes that this weathervane is intended to stand “as a symbol of the spirit of cooperation and community pride among the people in the White Lake area.” It was designed by Thomas Fletcher of Whitehall Metal Studios Inc., and constructed by that same company.
If you’re in the area to visit Fetch Brewing Co., the White River Lighthouse and Museum, Duck Lake State Park, or Michigan’s Adventure then this is a neat monument to visit. Other Roadside Attractions in the area include Muskegon’s Buster Keaton statue and “The Turning Point” snurfer statue.