Point Betsie Lighthouse original Fresnel lens

Point Betsie Lighthouse original Fresnel lens, photo by 22 North Photography

Point Betsie Lighthouse is located on the shore of Lake Michigan just north of Frankfort. It has the distinction of being Michigan’s most photographed lighthouse, and now you can take your photography indoors! The Friends of Point Betsie Lighthouse detail the restoration of the lighthouse and grounds and say:

The first floor is now an exhibition area depicting the history of the lighthouse and the lifesaving operations of the U.S. Lifesaving Service and U.S. Coast Guard at Point Betsie. The rehabilitation process included the installation of all new utility components in the quarters, restoration of the interior walls and floors, and the complete renewal of the tower and lantern. Funding for these projects came from the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program and a distinctive “Save America’s Treasures” award from the Federal Government, along with necessary matching contributions by Point Betsie’s private donors.

One key donation was for the restoration of the Victorian staircase in the assistant keeper’s quarters, a major gift in memory of former Assistant Keeper Henry LaFreniere and his wife Hattie. The stairway provides access to a beautiful two-bedroom vacation apartment, the rent from which is an important source of revenue for the light station. Another important historic contribution consisted of radiators that had previously heated Point Betsie’s adjacent Coast Guard station.

As the interior rehabilitation was moving forward, many gifts of furnishings and other period-appropriate items were donated or loaned to the Friends group for display and use. Other items, especially for the apartment, were carefully selected for purchase. The hopes of many Point Betsie devotees were realized when the beautiful Fourth-order Fresnel lens which provided the station’s sweeping beam for about a century was returned by the Coast Guard for display on the lighthouse’s first floor.

You can head over to the Point Betsie Lighthouse site for hours and also click over to the Michigan in Pictures Facebook for a few more photos of the new displays!

View the photo bigger and see more in the Inside Point Betsie gallery on Facebook.

More Point Betsie on Michigan in Pictures!

The Moon and the Vortex

July 12, 2014

Moon and the Ice Blob

The Moon and the Ice Blob, photo by Cherie

One of the cool things about having a Michigan photo group with nearly 200,000 photos to draw from is that I can find a photo for pretty much any post. Thanks all of you who share in the Absolute Michigan photo group!

Bruce McClure and Deborah Byrd have a nice feature on one of my favorite blogs EarthSky titled What is a Supermoon? It begins:

We in astronomy used to call them perigean new moons or perigean full moons, that is, new or full moons closely coinciding with perigee – the moon’s closest point to Earth in its orbit. But, in accordance with the rapidly evolving skylore of the modern world, we now enjoy calling them supermoons. The name supermoon was coined by an astrologer, Richard Nolle, over 30 years ago. It was popularized and came to be the accepted term for most people only in the past few years.

Are supermoons hype? In our opinion … gosh, no, just modern folklore. And they can cause real physical effects, such as larger-than-usual tides. The year 2014 has a total of five supermoons. They are the two new moons of January, and the full moons of July, August and September. Next supermoon: July 12.

Read on for more about tonight’s supermoon and supermoons in general.

Of course, the supermoon isn’t the only natural phenomenon enjoying hype this weekend, because our old friend the Polar Vortex is returning for an encore. Or not, according to Dr Jeff Masters of Weather Underground in the Freep:

It is not, however, the second coming of a polar vortex, something the National Weather Service says it regrets tweeting earlier this week.

Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters says the weather pattern is similar to those dreaded words, but the key difference is that the chilly air mass isn’t coming directly from the arctic.

Masters says that Typhoon Neoguri in Japan altered the path of the jet stream and allowed polar air to spill out of Canada. That means next week’s temperatures will be as much as 15 degrees cooler than normal in the Midwest and could reach 90 in the normally temperate Pacific Northwest.

More at the Freep and also check out mLive meteorologist Mark Torregrossa’s take on the battle between El Nino and the Polar Vortex. He talks about El Nino’s chances to push the jet stream northward. If it’s not strong enough, winter 2015 could be ruled by the polar vortex again. Go El Nino, Go El Nino!

Cherie took this photo in February of 2009 on Belle Isle. See it bigger on Flickr and see more in her Belle Isle Slideshow.

More supermoons and more polar vortex on Michigan in Pictures!

Cherry Time in Michigan

July 11, 2014

Ready to Pick

Ready to Pick, photo by Bruce

While much of the state is still waiting on cherries to ripen, the National Cherry Festival is heading into the final weekend for their 88th annual event. Their history page says (in part):

French colonists from Normandy brought pits that they planted along the Saint Lawrence River and on down into the Great Lakes area. Cherry trees were part of the gardens of French settlers as they established such cities as Detroit, Vincennes, and other midwestern settlements.

Modern day cherry production began in the mid-1800s. Peter Dougherty was a Presbyterian missionary living in northern Michigan. In 1852, he planted cherry trees on Old Mission Peninsula (near Traverse City, Michigan). Much to the surprise of the other farmers and Indians who lived in the area, Dougherty’s cherry trees flourished and soon other residents of the area planted trees. The area proved to be ideal for growing cherries because Lake Michigan tempers Arctic winds in winter and cools the orchards in summer.

The first commercial tart cherry orchards in Michigan were planted in 1893 on Ridgewood Farm near the site of Dougherty’s original plantings. By the early 1900s, the tart cherry industry was firmly established in the state with orchards not only in the Traverse City area, but all along Lake Michigan from Benton Harbor to Elk Rapids. Soon production surpassed other major crops. The first cherry processing facility, Traverse City Canning Company, was built just south of Traverse City, and the ruby-red fruit was soon shipped to Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee.

…The most famous sweet cherry variety is the Bing cherry; this cherry variety got its name from one of Lewelling’s Chinese workmen. Another sweet cherry variety is the Lambert, which also got its start on Lewelling Farms. The Rainier cherry, a light sweet variety, originated from the cross breeding of the Bing and Van varieties by Dr. Harold W. Fogle at the Washington State University Research Station in Prosser, Washington. The Bing, Lambert and Rainier varieties together account for more than 95 percent of the Northwest sweet cherry production.

Today, the U. S. cherry industry produces more than 650 million pounds of tart and sweet cherries each year. Much of the cherry production is concentrated in Michigan and the Northwest. Michigan grows about 75 percent of the tart cherry crop. Oregon and Washington harvest about 60 percent of the sweet cherry crop. Other states with commercial cherry crops are Utah, Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania and California.

Read on for more, and if you want to read about how some cherry farmers think that Federal cherry policy is leaving dollars in the orchards, head over to this Bridge Magazine article on how USDA cherry policy impacts Michigan cherry farmers.

Bruce photographed these beauties last week at at Lemon Creek Winery near Baroda. View his pic background bigtacular and see more in his slideshow.

More cherries and more summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!

Grand Hotel Birthday Butterfly

Grand Hotel Butterfly, photo by Alicia Bock

Today is the 127th birthday of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. You can check out the Hotel’s historic photo gallery or if you want to roll with the times, the Grand Hotel Instagram.

View Alicia’s photo bigger, see more in her Mackinac slideshow and view and purchase more in the Mackinac Magic photo gallery on her photography website.

More about the Grand Hotel on Michigan in Pictures.

Fort Michilimackinac

Fort Michilamackinac, photo by Mark Swanson

The State of Michigan’s page on Fort Michilimackinac says:

Fort Michilimackinac was built by the French on the south shore of the Straits of Mackinac in approximately 1715. Previously, French presence in the Straits area was focused in what is now St. Ignace where Father Marquette established a Jesuit mission in 1671 and Fort de Baude was established around 1683. In 1701, Cadillac moved the French garrison from St. Ignace to Detroit, which led to the closing of the mission and considerably reduced French occupation in the area. Several years later, as the French sought to expand the fur trade, they built Fort Michilimackinac to re-establish a French presence in the Straits area.

Fort Michilimackinac was a strategically located fortified trading post. The fort was not built primarily as a military facility but as a link in the French trade system, which extended from Montreal through the Great Lakes region and northwest to Lake Winnipeg and beyond. Overlooking the Straits of Mackinac connecting Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, the fort served as a supply post for French traders operating in the western Great Lakes region and as a primary stopping-off point between Montreal and the western country. Fort Michilimackinac was an island of French presence on the frontier from which the French carried out the fur trade, sought alliances with native peoples, and protected their interests against the colonial ambitions of other European nations.

In 1761 the French relinquished Fort Michilimackinac to the British who had assumed control of Canada as a result of their victory in the French and Indian War. Under the British, the fort continued to serve as a major fur trade facility. The Ottawa and Chippewa in the Straits area, however, found British policies harsh compared to those of the French and they resented the British takeover. In 1763 as part of Pontiac’s Rebellion, a group of Chippewa staged a ball game outside the stockade to create a diversion and gain entrance to the post and then attacked and killed most of the British occupants. The use of Fort Michilimackinac came to an end in 1781 when the British abandoned the post and moved to Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island.

You can get more including visitor information at Colonial Michilimackinac and also check out this History Channel program on Pontiac’s Rebellion (the Michilimackinac story is about 20 minutes in).

View Mark’s photo background big and see more in his Mackinac, Michigan slideshow.

More from Mackinac on Michigan in Pictures!

Mid Michigan on the 4th of July - Imlay City

Mid Michigan on the 4th of July – Imlay City, photo by Mike Boening

View Mike’s photo background big, see more in his slideshow and if you want to want to purchase prints, visit his website.

More summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, photo by charles hildebrandt

Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light is the go-to resource for Michigan lighthouses. His Fort Gratiot Lighthouse page begins:

The entrance into the St. Claire River from Lake Huron had long been deemed of strategic importance. Named after General Charles Gratiot, the engineer in charge of its construction, the Fort Gratiot military outpost was established at the entrance to the river in 1814, and ensured the security of vessels making the passage.

With the surge in vessel traffic on Lake Huron in the early 1800′s, the need for a lighthouse to guide vessels into the river and away from the shallows at the River entrance became a matter of increasing importance. In response to this need, Congress appropriated $3,500 to construct a lighthouse “near Fort Gratiot, in Michigan Territory” on March 3rd of 1823.

The contract for construction of the lighthouse and keepers dwelling was awarded to Captain Winslow Lewis of Massachusetts. Lewis was the inventor of the patented Lewis Lamp, which the Fifth Auditor had universally adopted as the primary source of illumination in the nation’s growing inventory of lighthouses. A staunch supporter and ally of the Fifth Auditor, Lewis had branched out into the business of lighthouse construction, and as the frequent low bidder, was being awarded a growing number of contracts to fulfill the nation’s need for navigational aids on the East Coast.

Lewis sub-contracted the construction of the tower and keepers dwelling that would become known as the “Fort Gratiot Light” to Mr. Daniel Warren of Rochester New York. Work commenced on the structure, but appears to have been running far beyond the scope of the original bid, since Congress appropriated an additional $5,000 for the project’s completion on April 2, 1825.

With the completion of construction on August 8th of that year, Fort Gratiot Light held the honor of becoming the first lighthouse in the State of Michigan.

Read on for much more including a couple of old photos of the light.

View Charles’ photo background big and click for more of his lighthouse photos.

Many more Michigan lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures!

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