Shortly after his arrival in 1880, Henry Starke begins building a bridge pier at the end of Lake Street. It eventually extends 1000 feet into Lake Michigan.
The pier is exposed to Lake Michigan's moods. The natural channel at the north end of Bar Lake is shallow and often filled with sand. In 1893, the new man-made channel provides reliable access to Arcadia's safe harbor.
From the late 1800s through 1906, the John. D. Dewar carries passengers and freight between Frankfort and Manistee with stops in Watervale, Burnham, Arcadia, Pierport, Onekama, and Manistee.
The Steamer Arcadia is built in 1888 to haul lumber to Milwaukee and Chicago. She was sold in 1906, when the Starke sawmill burns down and is replaced by the Arcadia Furniture Company.
In the spring of 1907, the Pere Marquette No. 6 joined the fleet of "Black Boats" and replaced the John D. Dewar in providing passenger and freight service to Arcadia.
In 1905, the US Government takes over the maintenance of the channel and begins a program of trying to keep the channel open by dredging only, not by making any repairs to the piers. The piers fall apart, dredging is ineffective, and the channel is often closed.
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