December 18, 2014
Last month I featured a cool shot of the Petoskey Pierhead lighthouse that people really liked. Here’s a pic of what that light looked like a hundred years ago. The entry for the Petoskey Pierhead Light at Lighthouse Friends says (in part):
Named after the Ottawa Indian Chief Ignatius Petosega, Petoskey is situated at the southeast corner of Little Traverse Bay. In westerly winds, the lake steamers had difficulty offloading summer visitors at Petoskey, prompting Congress to pass an act on August 17, 1895, authorizing construction of breakwaters to protect the landing pier. One breakwater, connected to shore, was built west of the landing pier, and a second detached breakwater was built to the north.
Work on the breakwaters commenced in 1896, and in 1899, a metal post with a lamp house at its base was placed fourteen feet from the outer end of the western breakwater. Two lantern lights, a red one above a white one, were exhibited from the post starting on July 1, 1899. The beacon light was damaged by the schooner Willia Loutit on July 11, 1900, but repairs, paid for by the schooner’s owners, were soon made.
In 1903, structural steel and cast-iron metalwork were ordered to enclose the pier’s metal post, but the work was evidently not carried out until 1912. The resulting thirty-four-foot-tall lighthouse resembled an inverted funnel and consisted of a pyramidal base, a vertical mid-section, and an ornate lantern room. This funnel-like style of lighthouse was also deployed on piers at five other Lake Michigan cities: Waukegan, Illinois and at Kenosha, Milwaukee, Racine, and Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
…During a severe storm in December 1924, the lighthouse was washed from the breakwater and destroyed. A newspaper account noted that the “self-lighting lighthouse” had been discontinued for the season on December 8, just six days before it was swept off the breakwater. A temporary light was displayed from an unpainted post until 1930, when a concrete foundation was constructed on the breakwater, and a new light was displayed from a thirty-foot, skeletal, steel tower, painted red.
…and of course Michigan in Pictures has lots more Michigan lights too!
December 13, 2014
The Rouge River Gateway Project relates that the Potawatami referred to the river as Minosa Goink which means “Singeing Skin River” – the place where game animals were dressed. The history continues (with my links to other fun stuff):
The French first settled on the banks of the Rouge River in the 1780s. They named the river “Rouge”, or red. Settlers would claim a few hundred feet of river frontage and extend their farms deep into the forest. Remnants of these “ribbon farms” still exist today in land ownership patterns along the river. Europeans continued to immigrate into the region to take advantage of its resources. They used the reddish clay for brick, mined the area’s salt deposits, and built farming communities along the riverbanks. The native prairie oak savannah and hardwood forests were cleared to make room for agriculture and industry.
Rapid growth and industrial development characterized the late nineteenth century. Henry Ford purchased extensive land holdings along the river. He built a factory in Dearborn to manufacture farm tractors, but kept a good portion of his land in agricultural production, partially for testing equipment. In 1914, he started construction of a permanent residence on the banks of the Rouge River.
A defining moment in the history of the river transpired with the construction of the Ford Rouge Plant during World War I. The development of the plant was motivated by Henry Ford’s desire to supply submarine chasers to the US military. The Ford Rouge Manufacturing Complex grew into a massive self –contained industrial complex that daily employed over ninety thousand men in the early 20th century. Raw materials including coke, iron ore, and rubber were brought in and transformed into cars in less than thirty hours, a process that set a new global standard for industry. The Rouge Manufacturing Complex became the largest manufacturing site in the world.
In his book Burning Rivers, Allen Park native John Hartig relates how heavy manufacturing and population growth seriously impacted the river to the point where the river became one of the most polluted waterways in the nation, catching fire in 1969 shortly after the famous Lake Erie/Cuyahoga River fire.
In 1986, in a Sunday feature on a new organization seeking to restore the Rouge, the Detroit Free Press called it the “sewer for a metropolis, discharge drain for industry, dumping ground for junk and garbage”. They went on to say that “the Rouge River has become so polluted that a cleanup seems unthinkable.”
While the Rouge is certainly far from restored, the organization the Freep was talking about, Friends of the Rouge, has been dedicated along with other public and private efforts to the preservation & restoration of the river. I encourage you to check them out for more information and to learn about their good work on the behalf of the river. Lots more at the Rouge River Project and Wayne County’s Rouge Project.
More industry on Michigan in Pictures.
November 27, 2014
A very happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I remain very thankful that I have such a great group of photographers and readers for Michigan in Pictures. I love doing this blog, and your support makes it possible!
Maia suggests that this lion is perhaps thinking about zoo visitors, but my personal theory is that he’s thinking about bears, Chicago Bears to be exact! Thankfully, the NFL has given us the opponent who started it all, as the Detroit Lions share the history of the Thanksgiving Day game:
The game was the brainchild of G.A. Richards, the first owner of the Detroit Lions. Richards had purchased the team in 1934 and moved the club from Portsmouth, Ohio to the Motor City. The Lions were the new kids in town and had taken a backseat to the baseball Tigers. Despite the fact the Lions had lost only one game prior to Thanksgiving in 1934, the season’s largest crowd had been just 15,000.
The opponent that day in 1934 was the undefeated, defending World Champion Chicago Bears of George Halas. The game would determine the champion of the Western Division. Richards had convinced the NBC Radio Network to carry the game coast-to-coast (94 stations) and, additionally, an estimated 26,000 fans jammed into the University of Detroit Stadium while thousands more disappointed fans were turned away.
Despite two Ace Gutowsky touchdowns, the Bears won the inaugural game, 19-16, but a classic was born. Since 1934, 69 games have been played with the Lions holding a series record of 33-34-2 (.493). And each game, in its own way, continues to bring back memories of Thanksgiving, not only to Lions’ fans, but to football fans across the nation.
November 22, 2014
Ah, November in Michigan. The Fishtown Preservation Society explains:
Fishtown is a unique historical attraction composed of weather-beaten fishing shanties and small shops lining the mouth of the Leland River. The site has endured and adapted over the last 150 years as an ever-evolving working waterfront that still operates as one of the only unmodernized commercial fishing villages in the state of Michigan.
One of the most important characteristics of Fishtown is its core of historic shanties. Though only a few are still used for commercial fishing operations, most of the structures in Fishtown had their origins as commercial fishing buildings. These buildings served many purposes, including net-mending sheds, ice houses, smoke houses, and storage. Though processes like ice-making are now mechanized in a commercial fishery, running a fishery still requires extensive space for equipment storage and net repairs.
Many buildings have come and gone from the Fishtown landscape with the changing fortunes of the industry, yet Fishtown survives as a rare working waterfront and an authentic and active commercial fishing village.
Head over to fishtownmi.org for more.
November 13, 2014
If you know of any shipwreck on the Great Lakes, chances are it’s the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald. While that was no doubt a terrible tragedy, my vote for the most grievous loss is the S.S. Carl D Bradley which sank 56 years ago next Tuesday on November 18, 1957. I found a really excellent article on the ship and shipwreck at Lake Effect Living titled Lost To The Lake: The Wreck of the Carl D. Bradley:
Known as ‘Queen of the Lakes’, the Carl D. Bradley was the largest ship on the Great Lakes from 1927 to 1949. At 639 feet, it was the longest freighter on the Lakes until the launch of the SS Wilfred Sykes twenty-two years later. The largest self-unloading ship for its time, the Bradley was the Bradley Transportation Company’s flagship. Named after the president of Michigan Limestone, Carl David Bradley, this state of the art freighter had its maiden voyage in the summer of 1927. Since Michigan Limestone’s company base was in Rogers City, Michigan, the freighter drew most of its crew from this small community.
…On Monday, November 17, 1958, the steamer left Buffington, Indiana bound for Port of Calcite harbor in Rogers City, Michigan.
The Bradley’s captain was 52-year old Roland Bryan, a veteran seaman. Manned by a crew of thirty-five and carrying a light cargo, the Bradley headed out onto Lake Michigan at 9:30pm. But signs of severe weather were already in evidence when they left Buffington, where winds gusted at more than 35 miles an hour. It was the first ominous indications of an extreme cold front forming over the plains. Temperatures in Chicago plummeted twenty degrees in one day, and thirty tornadoes were sighted from Texas to Illinois.
Aware that gale winds were forecast, the crew readied the steamer for bad weather. They traveled along the Wisconsin shore until reaching Cana Island, where they shifted course for Lansing Shoal which lay across Lake Michigan. The winds on the lake reached 65 miles an hour by 4pm the following day. Still, the Bradley seemed to be weathering the gale force winds and heavy seas with little problem. This changed at 5:30pm when the Port of Calcite received a radio message from First Mate Elmer Fleming informing them that the Bradley, approx. twelve miles southwest of Gull Island, would arrive home at 2am. As soon as this message was sent however, a loud thud or bang was heard on the ship.
When the day was done, 33 of the 35 member crew were dead, 23 of the from Rogers City, Michigan. For a town of less than 4000, it was a heavy blow. Read on for much more and also see Seeking Michigan: The Wreck of the Carl D. Bradley on Absolute Michigan and the tribute site at carldbradley.org.
John Rochon shared this photo of the Bradley was taken from the Blue Water Bridge by Schjelderup Marine Studio and shows the ship heading towards the mouth of Lake Huron. View it big as the Bradley and see more in his massive Great Lakes Ships & Shipping slideshow.
More shipwrecks on Michigan in Pictures.
November 11, 2014
74 years ago today on November 11, 1940, Michigan got blasted by one of the most severe November storms on record, the Armistice Day Blizzard. The Michigan Historical Marker in Ludington regarding the Armistice Day Blizzard says:
On November 11, 1940, a severe storm swept the Great Lakes area. As it crossed Lake Michigan, ships and seamen fought to reach safety away from its blinding winds and towering seas. Between Big and Little Points Sable the freighters William B. Davock and Anna C. Minch foundered with the loss of all hands. The crew of the Novadoc, driven aground south of Pentwater, battled icy winds and water for two days before being rescued by local fishermen. At Ludington the car-ferry City of Flint 32 was driven ashore, her holds flooded to prevent further damage. Elsewhere lives were lost and ships damaged in one of Lake Michigan’s greatest storms.
Also see the entry on the Armistice Day Blizzard at carferries.com. Wikipedia’s entry for the Armistice Day Blizzard adds that 66 people lost their lives on Lake Michigan on three freighters, the SS Anna C. Minch, the SS Novadoc, and the SS William B. Davock, as well as two smaller boats that sank and (at least) another 4 perished on land. There was one positive outcome though:
Prior to this event, all of the weather forecasts for the region originated in Chicago. After the failure to provide an accurate forecast for this blizzard, forecasting responsibilities were expanded to include 24-hour coverage and more forecasting offices were created, yielding more accurate local forecasts.
While it’s nothing like what happened in 1940, the Upper Peninsula is currently under a winter storm warning and looking at 8-16″ of snow today as an early season blizzard barrels through.
Cory took this shot on Lake Superior during the most severe late fall storm in recent times, Superstorm Sandy. View it bigger and see a lot more in his U.P. Winter ’12 & ’13 Gallery on his PhotoYoop page at Facebook.
More wild Michigan weather on Michigan in Pictures!
November 3, 2014
In 1907, Russian immigrant brothers and bakers, Ben and Perry Feigenson, began playing around with the idea of creating soft drinks based on their frosting flavors. They bottled their soda – which they called “pop” because of the sound it made when the lid was removed – in fruit punch, strawberry and grape flavors at a factory on Pingree Street. They sold their soda pop from their horse-drawn wagon the day after it was made.
Soon, the brothers developed the Feigenson Brothers Bottling Works, but they changed the name to Faygo in 1921 because “Feigenson” was too long to fit on the labels. They moved their growing bottle works to Gratiot Avenue in 1935, which is still used today to create Faygo pop.
The brothers ran Faygo until the mid-1940s, when they gave the company to their sons. Faygo was sold only in Detroit and Michigan until the late 1950s because it had a limited shelf life. At that time, company-hired chemists determined that impurities in the water prevented the pop from staying carbonated. The company then developed a water filtering system that stretched the shelf life to more than a year.
Faygo became popular outside of Michigan in the late 1960s when the company began advertising during televised Detroit Tigers games. Today, Faygo, which comes in over 30 flavors, is sold in many states east of the Mississippi River.
In 1987, the Feigenson family sold the Faygo company to National Beverage Company which is based in Florida. National Beverage, which also owns Shasta, kept the Detroit bottling works and the company’s employees. Many have worked for Faygo for over 30 years.
Today, the most popular Faygo flavor remains one of the earliest the Feigenson brothers developed: Redpop.