Fish Shanties at Amsterdam

June 1949, Sheboygan Press
Sketch by A. J. Baum, Story by Sen. G. W. Buchen.

Editors note: While this 1949 article does not name names... one of the founders of Amsterdam, Wisconsin was Gilbert Smith. Read more about this here.

Fish Shanties at Amsterdam, Wisconsin; Sketch by A. J. Baum

Since earliest times the waters of Lake Michigan in the vicinity of Amsterdam in the town of Holland have been a favored spot for pound net fishing. As early as 1845 it is recorded a number of fishermen mostly from Ohio, “a rough, hard-drinking set of fellows”, pursued their venturesome calling here. In 1874, according to a newspaper of the time, between 30 and 40 pound nets were set up in the area. Today as you stroll along the beach you can still see protruding above the water quite a distance out in the lake the tops of numerous wooden piles, or “pound sticks”, driven into the lake bottom and holding the nets vertically in place.

These nets are sometimes as much as 30 feet deep. Stretched out, they form walls of net-work in the water, extending all the way from the bottom of the lake to the surface. They consist of a “lead” running from the shallower water near shore out to the “pound”. The fish in swimming along stop when they come to the “lead”, and as they cannot get over or under it, they follow it into the “pound” which is so arranged that once in the enclosure, the fish cannot escape.

Pictured above are the fish shanties and pier of the Amsterdam Fish Company. There are also shanties of other fishermen in the neighborhood. Amsterdam was once a prosperous and promising village, but as the years passed it gradually withered away, leaving scarcely a trace of its former existence.