May 11, 2013
A page about the Point Aux Barques – Turnip Rock geocache had the best information I found about this Lake Huron Landmark. The author explains:
This cache is accessible by a kayak, canoe, jet ski or boat on Lake Huron. Port Austin is the closest harbor which is approximately three miles west. The land around this feature is a gated community. I must stress that this cache is only accessible by a water craft via Lake Huron. If you are not comfortable navigating the waters of Lake Huron, do not attempt to do this cache. Lake Huron can be dangerous at times for small water craft such as kayaks or canoes.
…Everyone that received their grade school education in Michigan learned that glaciers pushed their way over Michigan several times. The result is glacial drift averaging 200 to 300 feet deep covering on top of the bedrock. The thickness of drift has measured over 1,000 feet in a few Michigan locations. Rarely can we see exposed bedrock that has been sculptured by non glacier forces. This is one of the locations in southern Michigan where the sandstone bedrock is exposed at the surface. The amount of shoreline that has exposed sandstone is about one mile, but a lot of beauty has been sculptured in the stone.
The locals call the main structure here “Turnip Rock”, because of it’s shape. Geologists call it a “Sea Stack”. A definition of a sea stack is an isolated pillar-like rocky island or mass near a cliff shore, detached from a headland by wave erosion assisted by weathering. Waves force air and small pieces of rock into small cracks, future opening them. The cracks then gradually get larger and turn into a small cave. When the cave wears through the headland, an arch forms. Further erosion causes the arch to collapse. This causes a pillar of hard rock standing away from the coast. Generally occurring in sedimentary rocks, sea stacks can occur in any rock type.
Read on for more and also see the Atlas Obscura entry for Turnip Rock has a map and photos. Michigan in Pictures favorite Lars Jensen has some great photos of Turnip Rock as well, and you should definitely check out Jason Glazer’s panoramic photos of Turnip Rock.
More Michigan landmarks on Michigan in Pictures.
May 2, 2013
Good Harbor is located on the northern edge of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore at the Lake Michigan end of County Road 651. Today only evidence of the vanished village are the pilings of what was once a 500′ dock that could load 4 schooners at a time. The Good Harbor page from the Lakeshore explains that logging in the area began in 1863 to supply cordwood fuel for steamers, leading to the founding of a village in the 1870s.
Shortly after 1880 (Henry) Schomberg bought out Schwartz’s interest and built a big sawmill which had a capacity of 30,000 feet in a 10-hour day.
…The Schomberg Lumber Company ran a hotel, two stores which became a shopping center for the local farmers, and a saloon. The township line between Centerville and Cleveland townships ran down the middle of Main Street in Good Harbor. Centerville did not allow saloons, so Good Harbor’s saloon was built on the Cleveland township side of the street … At the height of the lumber business, the mill worked day and night during the winter and during the day in the summer. As many as 75 teams of horses were used hauling logs to the mill, lumber to the dock, and supplies to the camps. The lumber company owned some of the teams and the rest were owned by local farmers and rented to the lumber company. At its peak, the mill cut 8,000,000 board feet of lumber per year.
The schooners were loaded by farmers who were called to work at the dock when the ships arrived. Good Harbor had no protection from storms with a northwest wind, so ships had to leave the dock and sail to the Manitou Islands for protection when a storm would come up. Sometimes storms would come up too fast and the ships were driven aground.
April 18, 2013
“I’d rather do 20 miles on soft sand than 10 miles on the side of the road. There is something about being where water meets land. I feel very clicked-in there. I feel like I can go forever.”
USA Today has a feature on Loreen Niewenhuis, a Battle Creek resident who has hiked a good deal of the shorelines of all the Great Lakes. As to why, she explains:
“Our older son had gone off to college. The nest was emptying. I’d gotten my” master’s of fine arts degree … “but I felt I could stack up novels and not have an agent and be in my office writing novels forever,” says Niewenhuis, 49. “So I thought, let me do something completely different and get out of my office.”
So she put on her hiking boots. She got out the office.
Boy, did she ever.
Click through to read more about her journey and what she learned along the way. You can keep up with Lorraine’s latest including a planned walk on 1000 of Michigan islands on her Facebook page and at laketrek.com.
This photo is of Twelve Mile Beach in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior, certainly one of the state’s best beaches. Check John’s photo out on black and see more in his My Favorites slideshow.
March 26, 2013
I’d like to offer an apology of sorts for this photo. It goes like this: “I’m really, really sorry that I sometimes have to blog photos of the ugly things that threaten what’s beautiful in Michigan. I wish I didn’t have such a good reason to!”
Michigan has only the tiniest sliver of Lake Erie shoreline, so little that we sometimes forget that it is one of the lakes that define our Great Lakes State. Lake Erie served once at the canary in the coal mine for pollution of the Great Lakes, and it may once again be sounding a warning call. A recent front page of the New York Times featured scary news about algae blooms on Lake Erie:
For those who live and play on the shores of Lake Erie, the spring rains that will begin falling here soon are less a blessing than a portent. They could threaten the very future of the lake itself.
Lake Erie is sick. A thick and growing coat of toxic algae appears each summer, so vast that in 2011 it covered a sixth of its waters, contributing to an expanding dead zone on its bottom, reducing fish populations, fouling beaches and crippling a tourism industry that generates more than $10 billion in revenue annually.
…Dead algae sink to the lake bed, where bacteria that decompose the algae consume most of the oxygen. In central Lake Erie, a dead zone now covers up to a third of the entire lake bottom in bad years.
“The fact that it’s bigger and longer in duration is a bad thing,” said Peter Richards, a senior research scientist at the National Center for Water Quality Research at Heidelberg University in Ohio. “Fish that like to live in cold bottom waters have to move up in the thermocline, where it’s too warm for them. They get eaten, and that tends to decrease the growth rates of a lot of the fish.”
Read on for a whole lot more including how farming practices are intersecting with invasive zebra mussels and climate change to magnify the dangers.
More Lake Erie on Michigan in Pictures.
March 7, 2013
February 9, 2013
On Michigan in Pictures I usually blog beautiful things, but today I’m featuring an ugly thing that we in Michigan should all be concerned about. Traverse City based Circle of Blue has an in-depth feature on the record-low level of Lake Michigan-Huron:
The latest numbers released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on February 5 show that both lakes Michigan and Huron — which are two connected lakes — are experiencing their lowest point since records began in 1918. Water levels were an average of 175.57 meters (576.02 feet) for the month of January, approximately 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) lower than the previous record set in 1964.
“Not only have water levels on Michigan-Huron broken records the past two months, but they have been very near record lows for the last several months before then,” said John Allis, chief of the Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office at the Corps, in a press release. “Lake Michigan-Huron’s water levels have also been below average for the past 14 years, which is the longest period of sustained below-average levels since 1918 for that lake.”
The low water levels, which the Corps attributes to: below-average snowfall during the winter of 2011-2012, last summer’s drought, and above-average evaporation during the summer and fall of 2012, have the potential to hurt the Great Lakes’ shipping industry.
…For the water levels on Lake Michigan-Huron to reach even near-average water levels again, the Corps said it will take many seasons with above average precipitation and below-average evaporation.
Read on at Circle of Blue for much more including the struggles that wildlife are having with the changing climate. You can also view the release from the Army Corps of Engineers and see historic Great Lakes levels back to 1918. From the Army Corps, I learned that at 1 1/2 ft below normal, ships are losing 8-10% of their carrying capacity.
Beyond harm to the multi-billion dollar shipping industry which feeds countless industrial endeavors, the low lake levels are making many of our recreational harbors inaccessible. These feed our multi-billion dollar sport fishing industry and this has prompted Gov. Snyder to endorse a $21 million emergency dredging plan, $11 million of which would come from Michigan’s general fund. With over a half a million jobs in Michigan alone tied to the health of the Great Lakes, getting a handle on the threats that impact them are likely to be at the center of our policy and spending for a long time.
In a curious bit of synchronicity, you can see just how vital the Great Lakes are to Michigan in Michigan Sea Grant’s reports on Economic Vitality and the Great Lakes. View this photo bigger and see more in their Grand Traverse Bay Low Water slideshow.
February 8, 2013
This photo, taken on January 24, 2013, illustrates how ice on Lake Michigan’s eastern shore can achieve heights of many feet; by accretion of floating snowball-size ice balls thrown upward by wave action. The maximum wave height (crest to trough) on Lake Michigan on this day was approximately 6 ft (2 m). What results is a landscape that looks almost volcanic. Click here to see video of this phenomenon. Note that the lake itself is a slurry of ice and water.
More EPOD awesomeness on Michigan in Pictures!
December 25, 2012
December 5, 2012
October 13, 2012
The Great Lakes Echo has a feature on an Environmental Science & Technology journal report on how scientists have used dogs to rid a Lake Michigan beach of seagulls. Why do that you ask? While gulls are certainly part of the Great Lakes beach experience, seagull waste contains bacteria that harms water quality & sometimes closes beaches. The test took place in Racine, Wisconsin and they explain:
For eleven days researchers calculated the concentration of different bacteria on the Lake Michigan beach. They measured E.coli and Enterococcus concentrations to calculate fecal contamination. In addition, the study collected information on potentially pathogenic bacteria, which can cause infectious diseases.
Researchers then used two trained border collies with handlers to harass gulls while continuing to survey the water quality.
The dogs prompted the gull population to drop 98 percent, from nearly 670 birds to just fewer than 20.
Fewer gulls meant better water. E.coli bacteria decreased nearly 30 percent with the removal of half the gulls. Before the dogs started working, water samples tested positive for potentially infectious bacteria on seven out of eleven days. After the dogs chased the seagulls, researchers failed to find any contagious bacteria.
Read on for more about this innovative solution.