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.
April 26, 2013
Terry Pepper has (as usual) a very detailed entry for Poe Reef Lighthouse on his Seeing the Light website. This crib style lighthouse is located off Bois Blanc Island in Lake Huron. The reef is very close to the surface and posed a significant threat to navigation until the decision was made in the 1890s to anchor a lightship there. This served until Lighthouse Service decided to build a permanent station on Poe Reef in 1927:
The station building at Poe Reef was to be an exact duplicate of that which the crew had previously completed at Martins Reef. The main twenty-five foot square structure consisted of a steel skeletal framework to which an exterior sheathing of riveted steel plates was applied. Thirty-eight feet tall, it contained three levels, or “decks”, as the crews assigned to the station knew them. The two upper decks were set up as living quarters, while the main lower deck served as housing for the machinery required for powering the lights, heating system and foghorn.
Centered atop the main structure stood sixteen-foot square, ten-foot high watch room of similar construction, with a single observation window on each side. Finally, a decagonal cast iron lantern room was installed on the roof of the watch room, and outfitted with a Third Order Fresnel lens. The combination of pier and tower provided the Fresnel with a seventy-one foot focal plane, and a visibility range of almost twenty nautical miles in clear conditions. Work was completed at the station and the light exhibited for the first time on the evening of August 15, 1929.
At some point in time, in order to eliminate the possibility of the Poe Reef Light being mistaken for the identical all white structure at Martin Reef, the main deck and watch room of the Poe structure were given a contrasting coat of black paint.
Terry has some cool shots of this light as well including this wide shot with cormorants.
More Michigan lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures.
February 19, 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 7, 2013
Shawn Malone (follow her at Lake Superior Photo on Facebook) explains that this shot of the Mackinac Bridge was a long exposure where the wind went from calm to a 15-20 mph gust during the exposure, producing that crazy texture on the water – almost like a double exposure.
More of the Mackinac Bridge on Michigan in Pictures.
January 18, 2013
The Great Lakes Echo reports that:
The map, known as the Great Lakes Surface Environmental Analysis, is a composite of data taken from NOAA satellites orbiting the earth’s poles and radar scans of the lakes by the National Ice Center. The resulting image shows surface water temperature and ice coverage, important data for region scientists, fishermen and boaters. The map’s data is updated daily.
“Previously, the lowest ice coverage year was 2002,” CoastWatch manager George Leshkevich said. “2012 came very close to 2002, and this year is looking very similar to last year.”
Lack of ice cover leads to increased water evaporation, a serious concern in light of already-low lake levels.
You can read more about last year’s ice cover and impacts on Absolute Michigan.
More winter wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!
December 4, 2012
Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light says that the plan for the Cheboygan Crib Light that was drawn-up by the District Engineer called for a round crib with an octagonal cast iron pierhead beacon centered upon it.
Work began with the construction of a wooden crib onshore in Cheboygan, which was then lowered into the water and towed out to the specified location at the entrance to the dredged river channel. Sunk in place with the addition of crushed rock, an upper level consisting of oak timber framework was then constructed atop the crib, with a basement oil storage room beneath the location in which the tower was to be installed. The deck of this superstructure was then leveled at a height of eleven feet above the water, planked with timber and fitted with a circular oak ring centered over the oil storage room to serve as an anchoring foundation for the cast iron tower itself.
…One can only imagine the drudgery involved for the keepers who manned this station. Every afternoon he would have to leave the safety of the dwelling in Cheboygan and row the 1/4 mile out to the light in whatever weather the lake was dishing-up that day. On arrival at the crib, he would carefully secure his boat at the foot of the crib, and then gingerly step from the heaving boat onto the eleven foot ladder, climbing up to the deck while simultaneously carrying any supplies needed for the night. The lamp would illuminated at dusk, and the keeper would then sit in the solitude of the tower, huddled close to the stove to keep warm on cold nights during the late season, making frequent climbs to the lantern to adjust the light by trimming the wick, winding the occulting mechanism and adding fuel to the lamp. As dawn finally raised its head across the Straits of Mackinac, the lamp would be extinguished, and the illuminating apparatus, lens and lantern would be cleaned in preparation for illumination later that day. The keeper would then row the ¼ mile back to shore to get some sleep, knowing that he would have to back out on the crib to repeat the cycle a few short hours later.
Sounds like a wonderful job. Read lots more about the light from Terry Pepper.
November 8, 2012
Glen Willis of the Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse Society has an excellent article on The Great Storm of 1913 that explains that most historians agree that the most significant and most dreadful storm on Lake Huron took place over the weekend of November 8-10, 1913. Known by all mariners simply as “The Storm”, it was first detected on the western end of Lake Superior on Thursday, November 6th then progressed rapidly south and east, dropping temperatures and spawning marine warnings.
At Pointe aux Barques as the temperature dropped, it began to rain. As the wind picked up the rain turned to sleet. The sleet began to ice up everything it touched. The waves offshore quickly reached 10 to 12 feet, and then more. Then the snow came, thick and wind driven. Shipmasters out on the lake were finding sailing conditions that were unlike any they had seen before. The sleet that had coated their vessels turned the pilothouse windows opaque. It sealed and froze the doorways. To step outside a cabin meant that the skin would be painfully pelted by frozen bits of sleet & snow…
By midday Sunday at Pointe aux Barques, the snow was so thick and so heavily driven by the wind that vessels out on the lake could not see the rays of the light. At nearby Harbor Beach waves had already destroyed some lakefront buildings and had run the 552-foot D.O. Mills ashore. At mid-lake the wheelsman on the 500 foot Howard M. Hannah, Jr. found that the forward motion of the ship had ceased and that the bow had fallen off into the trough of the waves. Without enough power to drive it the ship was at the mercy of the elements. Waves were higher than the ship is tall and as they crashed down upon the ship the windows and the cabins were stove in. The ship was not under command and as it drifted into Saginaw Bay the master could see the flash of the Port Austin Reef Light. He then knew that his ship would not be saved.
Pointe aux Barques is the oldest continuously operating Light on the Great Lakes, and the Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse Society preserves the light and operates a museum. Visit them for more!
More shipwrecks on Michigan in Pictures.
August 25, 2012
August 4, 2012
In the course of writing about on how Alpena was named, I ran across this great photo from Rockport. It used to be called the Rockport Property, and in February it became the newest state park in Michigan. The DNR news release explains:
Rockport State Park offers many unique and special features. With 4,237 acres of land located on the shores of Lake Huron, north of Alpena, the property includes a deep-water protected harbor, an old limestone quarry of approximately 300 acres, a unique series of sinkholes, a dedicated Natural Area (Besser Natural Area), and a broad range of land types, vegetative cover, cultural resources and recreation opportunities. At the harbor, the Department has a boat launch facility, and there is a small park developed by Alpena Township on land leased from the State.
There’s no map on the DNR Park website yet, but you can get directions and some more photos from Quiet Solo Pursuits.
Happy weekend everyone…