Gray’s Reef Lighthouse

Gray's Reef Lighthouse

Gray’s Reef Lighthouse, photo by AdamMI88.

Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light is the best resource for Great Lakes Lighthouses. The Grays Reef Light page begins:

Grays Reef Passage serves as the primary route between the Straits and the ports on the southern shores of Lake Michigan. Bounded on the east by Vienna Shoal and East Shoal, Grays Reef itself forms the western boundary of the passage, and consists of an extensive area of shallow water over a rocky bottom stretching over eight miles in length. With some portions of its rocky bottom almost protruding above the water’s surface, the reef has long represented a significant threat to any vessel master unfamiliar with the intricacies of the passage.

He goes on to explain tells how lightships kept the reef safe from 1891 until a crib light was finally approved in the 1930s. Click through for some photos of the lightships and a detailed account of what goes into building a crib light in 26 feet of water. The Archives of Michigan has a cool pencil drawing of Gray’s Reef as well!

Adam says that White Shoal Light is also visible (barely) in the distance (left). Check this out on black and in his Northern Michigan slideshow (which includes some other northern Michigan lighthouses!).

Check out more Michigan lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures.

Memorial Day in Michigan

Tribute 9804-09

Tribute 9804-09, photo by StacyN – MichiganMoments

Stacy took this photo at the Grand Rapids Veteran’s Cemetery. View it bigger in her slideshow and I hope you have a chance to remember those who’ve sacrificed for our nation.

Festival Summer starts with Electric Forest

Huge Crowd at The Dead Concert, Rothbury 2009, photo by Ann Teliczan

I’m not sure if this qualifies as a commercial break, but in addition to Michigan in Pictures, I also work to promote the enjoyment of Michigan through Absolute Michigan. We have just kicked off a summerlong campaign we’re calling Absolute Michigan’s Festival Summer. The goal is to give away as many tickets as possible to Michigan festivals and events all summer long. After just a week of reaching out to folks who make these events happen, we have tickets for a half dozen music festivals and events  including a pair of June ones – the Leland Wine & Food Festival (Michigan’s oldest – Jun 11) and the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival (Jun 18) with more on the way!

This weekend we are giving away a pair of weekend passes to the first-ever Electric Forest Festival (June 30 – July 3) in Rothbury, Michigan. That’s about a $500 value and we’re happy that Electric Forest is sponsoring Absolute Michigan in part by providing a pair of tickets for us to give away to our readers. The festival is headlined by String Cheese Incident, Tiesto, Pretty Lights, Bassnectar and REO Speedwagon, but for my money, a big part of the experience are some fantastic acts from Michigan (Greensky Bluegrass, SuperDre, Macpodz and the Ragbirds) as well as from points near and far that many of you (including me!) have never heard of.

All you have to do to enter is to join the Absolute Michigan email list – do that and get all the details in our interview of Rothbury and Electric Forest founder Jeremy Stein!

The photo above was taken by Ann of the great blog Michigan Sweet Spot. Ann went to Rothbury in 2008 and 2009, and she has some cool shots and recollections at Rothbury in her blog along with lots more Michigan photographic goodness.

Be sure to check out the work of another Anne, her 360 degree Rothbury panoramas include ambient sound and are a real treat and she has a nice slideshow too. Speaking of slideshows, here’s one from the Absolute Michigan team at Rothbury 2009.


Fresnel lens at the Museum Ship Valley Camp


Untitled, photo by Jim Bedell.

The Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy’s page on Fresnel lenses begins:

The Fresnel lens is the 1822 invention of French physicist Augustine Fresnel who invented a lens that would make his name commonplace along the seacoasts of Europe and North America. Most lenses were handmade and shipped unassembled from France. Others were made in England. Early lens designs resembled a giant glass beehive, with a light at the center. The lens could be as tall as twelve feet high with concentric rings of glass prisms above and below a center drum section to bend the light into a narrow beam. Later designs incorporated a bull’s eye design into the center of the lens shaped like a magnifying glass, so the concentrated beam was even more powerful. Tests showed that while an open flame lost nearly 97% of its light, and a flame with reflectors behind it still lost 83% of its light, the Fresnel lens was able to capture all but 17% of its light. Because of its amazing efficiency, a Fresnel lens could easily throw its light 20 or more miles to the horizon.

Definitely read on to learn how flash panels or bull’s eyes were used to distinguish one light from the next and to view the different orders of Fresnel lenses that were used on the Great Lakes and also see Wikipedia’s Fresnel lens entry.

Jim snapped this aboard the Museum Ship Valley Camp in Sault Ste. Marie. You can take a photo tour right here.

Check his photo out bigger and take an awesome tour of the Valley Camp in his slideshow.

If you’re out and about this weekend, take some time to stop in at a Michigan museum!

Superior Dawn at Grand Sable Dunes

"Superior Dawn" - Grand Sable Dunes , Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

“Superior Dawn” – Grand Sable Dunes , Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, photo by Michigan Nut.

By curious coincidence, I was just a short distance (at Twelve Mile Beach Campground from where John captured this stunning view of the Grand Sable Dunes. That link can tell you all about this amazing dune structure and I heartily encourage you to visit the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore sometime soon!!

Check it out big as the BIG lake or in John’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore slideshow.

Many more photos from the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore can be found on Michigan in Pictures!

Frankenmuth Dog Bowl

Champion coming!

Champion coming!, photo by Frankenmuth Fun.

Frankenmuth invites you to Dog Bowl 2011, the Midwest’s largest Olympic style event for dogs. This annual event takes place Memorial Weekend (May 28 & 29) at Frankenmuth River Place and includes events for dogs including agility competitions, dock dives, dog disc competition, fashion shows, canine cruise and (of course) biggie dog & weiner dog races! The event is FREE – there’s even a hot air balloon show – and you can click the link above for all the details!

Check this out bigger than a beagle and also see their huge 2008 Dog Bowl and 2009 Dog Bowl slideshows!

Trout Lily Trio


Trio, photo by

I saw today’s photo of a trout lily and it reminded me of the spectacular trout lilies mixed in with spring beauties that I saw this weekend in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore near Grand Marais. I wondered if I’d ever posted a blog about it to Michigan in Pictures. The answer was yes, but the photographer removed their photo, so it seemed to me that a mulligan was in order!

This great Wild About Gardening feature on the trout lily (Erythronium americanum) says that the name is is derived from the resemblance of its mottled leaves to the coloring on brook trout. This 4-10″ tall wildflower is one of the earliest to bloom in Michigan and is also known as Adder’s Tongue and Dogtooth Violet:

This is a plant that relies more on the spreading abilities of its underground root system (corms) than on seed production from its flowers. In fact, it takes a few years for a plant to be mature enough to produce a flower and seeds. Trout lilies have recruited the help of ants, who eat a nutritious appendage attached to each seed and leave the rest to germinate. If you wish to propagate your trout lilies from seed, you will want to follow nature’s lead, at least as far as temperature is concerned. Keep your seeds moist and give them a few months of warm followed by a few months of cold, similar to the seeds falling on the ground at the beginning of summer and receiving the summer warmth and winter cold before sprouting the following spring. Wildflowers sometimes stagger their germination over several years, so you might want to sow a few extra seeds to avoid disappointment.

These plants will naturally spread by forming vast colonies. Some wild colonies are reputed to be as old as the trees around them — two or three hundred years! Despite its ability to spread, the trout lily is not considered an aggressive spreader but rather a delight to have in one’s garden.

Check this out bigger and in