September 13, 2014
M. Rebekah Otto of Atlas Obscura has an article about the Sanilac Petroglyphs:
The drawings were carved into the sandstone in Sanilac County but remained hidden by dense forests until the devastating fire exposed them.
The glyphs are carved into a large rock on the ground that is forty feet long and fifteen feet wide. Carved between 300 and 1,000 years ago, the drawings were likely made by the Hopewell or Chippewa Indians. They depict flying birds, other animals, and a man with a bow and arrow – lasting testaments to a former way of life.
Archaeologists have not determined the purpose or use of the drawings, though some have speculated that they were a destination for vision quests, as the rock is isolated near the fork in river. Shaman and holy men may have used the rock as a record of their visions, depicting animals that came to them in dreams.
Today the site is often closed to the public because the soft sandstone erodes easily and the figures are slowly fading away. Call the Sanilac Petroglyphs State Historic Park to get access before visiting.
Read on for more, visit the Sanilac Petroglyph State Historic Park website at the State of Michigan, and also check out this 2011 Detroit News article about the difficulty of preserving this unique bit of Michigan history.
September 4, 2014
In honor of the latest kayaker to throw caution to the wind (or is that water?) and take the plunge over the 51′ Tahquamenon Falls, here’s a cool aerial of the Falls that was postmarked in 1948 and probably taken a few years before.
If you want to see how to do this, check out a great video feature at YooperSteez on How to Kayak Over Tahquamenon Falls with Brazilian extreme kayaker Marcelo Galizio. Things To Do in the UP has an interview with Marcello as well. NOTE: I’m pretty sure this is against the rules at Tahquamenon Falls State Park and probably a great way to kill yourself if you don’t know what you’re doing!
Lots more about Tahquamenon Falls on Michigan in Pictures!
August 26, 2014
Matt linked over to Top Plants: Edison Sault Hydroelectric Plant Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan in PowerMag, which says (in part):
Hydroelectric projects are unique in that as long as the water is flowing and the mechanicals are periodically upgraded, there are few reasons their turbines won’t continue making electricity into the next century. The energy source may be renewable, but so is the plant itself. An exceptional example is Michigan’s 107-year-old Edison Sault Hydroelectric Plant, which combines historic architecture with modern technology to successfully generate 25 to 30 MW of electricity when operating at full load.
…Excavation of the hydropower plant’s canal began in September 1898 and was completed in 1902. Concurrently, construction of the Edison Sault Electric Hydroelectric Plant began in March 1900 and was completed in 1902. Official opening of the facility was held on October 25, 1902. At the time of completion, the plant was second only to Niagara Falls in terms of hydro development.
The facility is constructed of stone and steel. Much of the stone that was used was excavated from the power canal during its construction. Additional stone was used on other local landmarks throughout the City of Sault Ste. Marie.
You can read on for more (including diagrams) and visit the Cloverland Electric Cooperative Hydroelectric Plant page for more!
More from Sault Ste. Marie on Michigan in Pictures!
August 21, 2014
mLive reports that the Government Services Administration is taking bids from nonprofit or community groups to take stewardship of the Round Island Passage Light before auctioning it off. Click through for all the details.
Lighthouse Friends has a page on the Round Island Passage Lighthouse that includes the entry from the 1948 Coast Guard Bulletin on this light that replaced the Round Island Lighthouse (in the background on the left):
The substructure of the new lighthouse, 56 feet square up to the 1 foot line below mean low water, is a timber crib with cells at the perimeter filled with concrete and internal cells filled with 5-inch to 14-inch rock. The superstructure is concrete with a reinforced concrete deck. It has four vertical and four sloping sides, giving the lighthouse a new and unusually trim appearance. The tower is appropriately ornamented on each side with a 4- or 5-foot Indian Head plaque, symbolic of the area.
But the most interesting thing about Round Island Passage Light Station is its main light. Located in the top section of the 41 ½-foot tower, it is indeed a departure from the “single light source” arrangement that has been in use for centuries. This new light apparatus is a solid bank of sealed beam lamps of 3,000 candlepower which produce a characteristic of occulting green every 10 seconds. It is visible 16 miles. (These sealed beam lamps are similar to your present day automobile headlights.)
The fog signal consists of two air operated diaphragm horns, sounding simultaneously with 3 seconds blast and 27 seconds silence. The radiobeacon is class B. Distance finding is also provided.
The passage between Mackinac Island and Round Island has long been regarded as extremely hazardous. It is now adequately guarded by Round Island Passage Light Station. This will result in a saving of time on trips and will relieve the congestion of Poe Reef Channel. This, in turn, will increase Great Lakes’ tonnage.
August 7, 2014
Here’s a Throwback Thursday featuring one of Northern Michigan’s most colorful characters:
Harrison’s most colorful character was John “Spikehorn” Meyers, known to thousands of Michigan residents simply as Spikehorn. He was a showman, naturalist, politician, coal miner, tile manufacturer, furniture builder, inventor, realtor, bear hunter, lumberjack, and above all, individualist. The old gentleman had a fertile imagination under his white thatch of hair and full white beard.
According to neighbors, Spikehorn’s interest in the woods and buckskins developed around 1930, when he opened his Bear and Deer Park established on his property at the corner of US-27 and M-61. Rumor has it the park even contained an occasional buffalo.
Spikehorn and his friend, Red Eagle, dressed in buckskins for tourists and treated them to tales of their adventures in the woods. He enjoyed feeding his pets sweets, popcorn, and pop and loved posing with his deer and bears for cameras.
His enemies were the Conservation Officers, as indicated by the sign in front of his business: “Feed Conservation Officers to the Bear.”
Spikehorn also appears in one of the best Michigan history videos, Roaming Through Michigan, a classic newsreel.
July 28, 2014
The Point of Origin is located in Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit. The park’s website explains:
In 1788, Campus Martius served as a drill ground for militia training. Campus Martius means “military ground” and was named after the Campus Martius at Marietta, Ohio, a 180-foot stockade.
After the fire of 1805, Judge Woodward was appointed to oversee the plan to lay out the streets, squares and lots with the assistance of the best surveyors from Canada. They placed their instruments and astronomical devices on the summit of a huge stone. He viewed the planets and meteors in order to determine “true North”. Today we still call this point the “Point of Origin” which is located in center of Campus Martius at the junction of Woodward and Monroe. It is from this point that the City of Detroit’s Coordinate system was created.
FYI, this photo appeared on Rolling Past 5000 on Michigan in Pictures, but only in a bit part as one of the zeros!
July 24, 2014
A calm night on the Straits of Mackinac, and Michigan’s signature bridge was looking fine!
I’ve posted a ton about the Mighty Mackinac Bridge here on Michigan in Pictures, but had never seen this excellent summary of how it came to be courtesy the Michigan Dept. of Transportation’s page on I-75 and the Straits of Mackinac:
The five-mile stretch of water separating Michigan’s two peninsulas, the result of glacial action some twelve thousand years ago, has long served as a major barrier to the movement of people and goods. The three railroads that reached the Straits of Mackinac in the early 1880s, the Michigan Central and the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railway from the south, and the Detroit, Mackinac and Marquette from the north, jointly established the Mackinac Transportation Company in 1881 to operate a railroad car ferry service across the straits. The railroads and their shipping lines developed Mackinac Island into a major vacation destination in the 1880s.
Improved highways along the eastern shores of Michigan’s lower peninsula brought increased automobile traffic to the straits region starting in the 1910s. The state of Michigan initiated an automobile ferry service between St. Ignace and Mackinaw City in 1923 and eventually operated eight ferry boats. In peak travel periods, particularly during deer season, five mile backups and delays of four hours or longer became common at the state docks at Mackinaw City and St. Ignace.
With increased public pressure to break this bottleneck, the Michigan legislature established a Mackinac Straits Bridge Authority in 1934, with the power to issue bonds for bridge construction. The bridge authority supported a proposal first developed in 1921 by Charles Evan Fowler, the bridge engineer who had previously promoted a Detroit-Windsor bridge. Fowler’s plans called for an island-hopping route from the city of Cheboygan to Bois Blanc, Round, and Mackinac islands, thence to St. Ignace, along a twenty-four-mile route. The Public Works Administration flatly rejected a request for loans and grants to implement this project.
A plan was then drawn up for a direct crossing from Mackinaw City to St. Ignace, but they were again denied funds. In 1940, a plan was submitted for a suspension bridge with a main span of 4600 feet. This design was a larger version of the ill-fated Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington State, a structure destroyed by high winds on November 7, 1940. Although the disaster delayed any further action, the activities of 1938-1940 nevertheless produced some important results. The bridge authority conducted a series of soundings and borings across the straits and built a causeway extending out 4200 feet from the St. Ignace shore. The Second World War ended any additional work, and the Legislature abolished the bridge authority in 1947.
William Stewart Woodfill, president of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, almost singlehandedly resuscitated the dream of a bridge across the Straits of Mackinac. Woodfill formed the statewide Mackinac Bridge Citizens Committee in 1949 to lobby for a new bridge authority, which the legislature created in 1950. A panel of three prominent engineers conducted a feasibility study and made recommendations to the bridge authority on the location, structure, and design of the bridge.
The State Highway Department, which had just placed a $4.5 million ferryboat, Vacationland, into service at the straits in January 1952, remained hostile to the bridge plan. In April 1952, the Michigan legislature authorized the bridge authority to issue bonds for the project, choose an engineer, and proceed with construction. The authority selected David B. Steinman as the chief engineer in January 1953 and tried unsuccessfully to sell the bridge bonds in April 1953, but by the end of the year, the authority had sold the $99.8 million in revenue bonds needed to begin construction.