Group meets to discuss future of historic fish tug Katherine V

A meeting was held in Rogers City on Monday morning to discuss the future of the fish tug Katherine V. The meeting was organized by Dan Stevens, a member of the Besser Museum Board of Trustees, and Pat Labadie, historian at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Also in attendance were Ron Meneghel and Steve Kroll, members of the sanctuary’s advisory board.

The 60-foot Katherine V was built at Rogers City in 1928 and was operated for many years by the Vogelheim family. It last operated during the 1970 fishing season. After that it sat idle at the fish docks in Rogers City.

In 2001, the Vogelheim family donated the boat to Besser Museum and the boat was transported to its new home behind the museum. Museum officials intended to restore the historic fish tug and its original three-cylinder Kahlenberg engine and have them on display. For a variety of reasons no restoration work was done and the museum is now considering options for the future of the boat.

When queried by the museum, several individuals from Rogers City indicated an interest in exploring the possibility of bringing the Katherine V back to its home port. That led to the meeting on Monday.

Those attending the meeting in addition to Labadie and Stevens included Rogers City Mayor Beach Hall; Anne Belanger, program director at the Presque Isle District Library and a member of the Besser Museum board; Bob Noffze, a retired Great Lakes ship captain; Mark Thompson, executive director and curator of the Presque Isle County Historical Museum; and four members of the Vogelheim family: John Vogelheim, Richard Vogelheim, Richard Bennett and Paul Bennett.

Major issues discussed at the meeting included whether people in Rogers City would be interested in having the boat returned, the cost of moving the boat back to Rogers City, where the boat could be stored while it is being restored, costs of restoration, where funds for the project would come from, what organization would own the vessel, and where it would be displayed following restoration.

While those issues were discussed at length, no decisions could be made without further research.

A second meeting has tentatively been set for 9:30 a.m., June 6 at the Council chambers in the City Hall at Rogers City. In the interim, representatives from Rogers City were encouraged to solicit opinions from residents to determine whether there is interest in having the Katherine V returned.