October 15, 2014
Predicting Winter Weather: Woolly Bear Caterpillars at the Farmer’s Almanac says that in 1948, Dr. C. H. Curran, curator of insects at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City sought to determine the average number of reddish-brown segments and use that to forecast the coming winter weather. For eight years, he continued to try and prove scientifically a weather rule of thumb that the wider that middle brown section is (and the more brown segments there are) the milder the coming winter will be, while a narrow brown band means a harsh winter.
Between 1948 and 1956, Dr. Curran’s average brown-segment counts ranged from 5.3 to 5.6 out of the 13-segment total, meaning that the brown band took up more than a third of the woolly bear’s body. As those relatively high numbers suggested, the corresponding winters were milder than average. But Curran was under no scientific illusion: He knew that his data samples were small. Although the experiments popularized and, to some people, legitimized folklore, they were simply an excuse for having fun. Curran, his wife, and their group of friends escaped the city to see the foliage each fall, calling themselves The Original Society of the Friends of the Woolly Bear.
…Mike Peters, an entomologist at the University of Massachusetts, doesn’t disagree, but he says there could, in fact, be a link between winter severity and the brown band of a woolly bear caterpillar. “There’s evidence,” he says, “that the number of brown hairs has to do with the age of the caterpillar—in other words, how late it got going in the spring. The [band] does say something about a heavy winter or an early spring. The only thing is . . . it’s telling you about the previous year.”
Read on for more!
More weather on Michigan in Pictures!
September 26, 2014
Michigan Indian Day was established as the 4th Friday in September by the State of Michigan in 1974.
The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians & Kenny Pheasant, Director of their Anishinaabemowin Program created a cool site to help people learn Anishinaabemowin, the language of the Anishinaabe nation. The history page begins:
In the beginning, Gizhemanidoo created the universe as we know it today. He created Grandfather Sun and Grandmother Moon, Mother Earth and Father Sky. And on the earth he created all things, living and nonliving. He created life in the earth, on the earth, in the sky and in the water. He created the plants, rivers, four-legged and winged creatures, and the swimmers. After this was done, he created one of the greatest mysteries of all – the four seasons – to bring harmony and balance to all.
After all creation was complete, he created man. After he created the first Anishinaabe, he came to him in a dream and instructed him that he was to name all things in the language that he gave him, Anishinaabemowin. So the first man went about on his journey and named all things he saw – all the animals, insects, birds and fish – however long this took. Afterward, he spoke to the Creator Gizhemanidoo in his dream and said, “I have finished what you have told me to do.” Then the Creator Gizhemanidoo spoke back to him and said, “Yes, you have indeed done so, and now it is time for me to give you your name. Your name shall be Nanabozho, and whenever your people meet and greet one another, they will say a part of your name. That is why whenever the Anishinaabe people greet one another, they say the word Bozhoo.
Our creation story tells us that we originally migrated to the Great Lakes region from the East Coast. There are many settlements of our original homes that still exist to this day, like Manitoulin Island, the Island of the Great Spirit.
We have always been a nation, and we knew one another as the Anishinaabek. It was not until the French and European settlers arrived on this part of the continent that we became known as the tribes now called Ojibwe, Odawa and Bodwe’aadamiinh.
Read on for more.
More portraits on Michigan in Pictures.
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.