December 17, 2013
110 years ago on December 17, 1903, Orville & Wilbur Wright made aviation history with four flights of the Wright Flyer.
Seeking Michigan has a feature by Roger Rosentreter from Michigan History Magazine titled First in Flight? It tells the story of Augustus Herring, who followed his dream in St. Joseph and became one of this country’s aviation pioneers perhaps even pre-dating the Wright Brothers in powered flight:
Herring worked with other aviation pioneers, especially in experimenting with gliders. Finally, he put a gasoline-powered engine on a two-winged glider that had a wingspan of nineteen feet. The 2.5-horsepower engine (smaller than most of today’s lawnmower engines) gave the “pilot” power for about fifteen seconds In October 1898, Herring “flew” this contraption on the Lake Michigan beach at St. Joseph, Michigan. On a second flight, according to one eyewitness, the airplane stayed in the air for ten seconds and went seventy-three feet.
Herring had problems. His airplane was difficult to control, and he needed a lighter-weight engine to keep the plane flying longer, but none existed. Finally, the photographer who had been on the beach that day failed to capture Herring’s plane in the air. There was no visual proof that he had flown.
…Historians have mixed reviews for Herring. One labeled his work as “insignificant,” while another said, “one cannot deny that Herring flew or was very close to having flown.” As for Augustus Herring, he never claimed to be the first to fly. He knew his engine-powered glider was not a practical airplane. But he argued that his work proved that powered flight was “solvable.” That claim is undisputed.
December 4, 2013
July 25, 2013
“These are not lakes, these are the world’s eighth seas, and her bottom is littered with the wreckage of over six thousand ships.”
~The Three Sisters, Song of the Lakes
This gorgeous shot of the St. Joseph Pier Lighthouses demonstrates the incredible power of Great Lakes waves. I live in Traverse City, and this summer it feels like Lake Michigan has claimed the lives of more people than normal. Whether or not that’s true (it’s not), I thought this photo offered the perfect opportunity to share some tips and tools for staying safe on Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Superior and Lake Erie!
- Thinking of any of the Great Lakes as anything like any lake you’re familiar with is a mistake. They are freshwater seas that can pack incredible power. They are stronger than you and can end your life in an instant if you don’t respect them.
- The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project is a nonprofit dedicated to drowning prevention that keeps track of drowning statistics: 74 in 2010, 87 in 2011, 101 in 2012 and 39 so far in 2013. (you can also keep up with them on Facebook)
- Life jackets can save your life. U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that 90% of the people who drown in a boating or water accidents would survive with a life jacket.
- Cold kills! Hypothermia is a danger all year round on the Great Lakes. Click that link for tips on how to stay alive if you do end up in the water.
- Rip Currents (sometimes called “undertow” or “rip tide”) are a big danger on Michigan beaches accounting for the majority of drownings. Michigan is 4th in rip current related fatalities behind Florida, California, and North Carolina – we have “ocean force” rip currents. Learn how to beat them in this video.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offers comprehensive Great Lakes marine forecasts.
- The MyBeachCast smarthphone app can predict waves and warn you of hazardous conditions.
- Do you have more tips? Share them in the comments!
Catch a Michigan wave on Michigan in Pictures!
February 4, 2013
July 7, 2011
The page on the St. Joseph Pier Lights from Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light says that while the first lighthouse in St. Joseph is thought to be in the home of Captain Pickering in 1832, where the family put lanterns in their windows so ships would know where the entrance to the St. Joseph River was located:
St. Joseph’s first Federal lighthouse was constructed in 1859 on the hill above the harbor, and served the area until 1906 when the north pier was extended 1,000 feet, and the cast iron pier head light installed.
…The inner pier light was built in 1907, to serve as a rear range for the existing pierhead tower, allowing vessels to line up accurately on the channel from far out in the Lake. Over a a steel frame, the structure was encased in 3/8 inch steel plates. Twenty-six feet square, the building was capped by an octagonal cast iron lantern room, and equipped with a Fourth Order lens manufactured by Chance Brothers of Birmingham, England. At some point thereafter, this lens was removed from the tower, to be replaced by a Fourth Order Fresnel lens manufactured by Sautter & Cie, of Paris, the lens that remains in the tower to this day.
To beat the heat, check out the St. Joseph Lighthouse slideshow from the Absolute Michigan group on Flickr which features a lot of wintertime shots!
January 9, 2010
April 24, 2009
We’re headed into the season where trees explode with color in Michigan. It’s celebrated in events like next weekend’s Blossomtime Festival. It happens the first Saturday in May every year in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph and is Michigan’s oldest multi-community festival.
For even more blossoms, check out the blossom slideshow from the Absolute Michigan pool!
From the Things I Wish I Had Known About in Advance files comes this fantastic set of photos of last weekend’s D-Day re-enactment in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph (slideshow). Bill uploaded them all nice and big so be sure to cruise through that slideshow link. Or even better, download PicLens, click the set link and enjoy. (trust me on the PicLens thing – coolest web software I’ve seen in quite some time).
The 2008 Saint Joseph and Benton Harbor WWII Reenactment Weekend took place last weekend and was sponsored by the veterans’ organization Lest We Forget of SW Michigan. It was designed to teach folks about WWII history, veterans, and the equipment utilized and featured reenactments of the battles at Normandy (D-Day) and Peleliu (Palaus archipelago in the Phillipines).
Because I can, here’s a link to an amazing reenactment of the landing at Omaha Beach.
November 2, 2007
Mojophiltre took this photo of the St. Joseph River, just above the Buchanan Hydro-Electric Dam. He has a view of the water going over the Buchanan Dam that you’ll want to check out too.
As usual, Wikipedia has an entry on the St. Joseph River – I like to include these so that people who are passionate and knowledgeable can add to the phenomenal resource that Wikipedia offers. The St. Joseph River Watershed site (which has some cool maps of the watershed but some rather annoying Java) says:
The St. Joseph River Watershed is located in the southwest portion of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan and northwestern portion of Indiana. It spans the Michigan-Indiana border and empties into Lake Michigan at St. Joseph, Michigan. The watershed drains 4,685 square miles from 15 counties (Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Hillsdale, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren in Michigan and De Kalb, Elkhart, Kosciusko, Lagrange, Noble, St. Joseph and Steuben in Indiana). The watershed includes 3,742 river miles…
The Friends of the St. Joseph River has a nifty historical photo of the Buchanan Dam and a great article about the history of the names of the St. Joseph River by Bob Owens & Scott Null. The river was important to native peoples – all the way from the enigmatic Hopewell Mound Builders who made their home all along the Saint Joseph River valley to the Fox & Sauk who moved in as mercenaries for the English. This very interesting page lists various names for the river and I think it’s fascinating how one river can provide such a wealth of insight into Michigan’s history:
- The Miami called it Sauk-Wauk-Sil-Buck (which The Google thinks means “River of Mystery”).
- The Iroquois, who apparently conducted a nasty genocidal campaign on the Algonquian in the region, called the river The Illinois – maybe because the first Algonquian tribe they met were the Illinois.
- In spring of 1672, Explorer Rene-Robert Cavalier De La Salle (searching for the best route between Quebec and the mouth of the Mississippi) ran into the Miami (who by this time were in the pay of the Iroquois against their Algonquin brethren), so naturally he christened it The River of the Miamis.
- Jesuit Missionary Claude Allouez (who earlier had named Lake Michigan “Lake Saint Joseph” after first sighting it on Catholic Feast Day of Saint Joseph) founded a mission at the rail junction at Bertrand. It’s noteworthy that when LaSalle returned later, he still called it the River of the Miami.
- North and east, the French built Fort St. Joseph near Niles in 1691. At that time the Potowatomi (who called the river Sohg-Wah-Se-Pe – also Mystery River) were friendly with the French.
- Around 1700, the Fox & Sauk tribes, who were allied with the English and named the river O-Sang-E-Wong-Se-Pe (Mystery River again), began to tangle with the Potowatomi and French.
The authors advocate for naming the river the Sagwa. I don’t know about that, but I do know that time seems to mysteriously disappear when I run into cool Michigan history like this!
More from the Michigan Fall Wallpaper series
June 12, 2007
You can view more photos from St. Joseph on this Flickr map and there’s also a whole bunch of St. Joseph information posted today in the Berrien County, Michigan article on Absolute Michigan.