High Noon: 1909: Marquette Main Street via Shorpy

Marquette Front Street

Marquette Front Street c 1909, photo by Lycurgus S. Glover (Detroit Publishing Co)

The Shorpy Photo Archive is a magical website that has been around for years, dishing up incredible and well presented public domain photos from around the country. Many, like this one of Main Street in Marquette from 1909, are from Michigan. In addition to a link to purchase a print of the photo, all include a giant view of the image and a discussion board that uncovers many of the details that become apparent when you look at the picture closely such as this odd detail in the lower right:

“Why is there a wooden platform behind him leading to a blank wall?”

The wooden platform is actually a bridge over a set of railroad tracks that lead out to cranes for unloading coal in the Marquette Harbor. The wall is for safety as it was a 16′ drop down to the tracks. See attached links for different view of Front Street and the City of Marquette around that time. You can see the same wood bridge in one and the cranes in the other. Also you can see the ore docks that gravity load iron ore into ore boats to take the iron ore to Pittsburgh. Iron mining was and still is a big business in Marquette County. The photo in question was taken standing on the a steel bridge leading to the old ore dock that can be seen in the attached photos.

Click through to check the photo out background bigtacular. As one commenter notes, “It’s noon by the building clock, and the locals are mobbing the ice cream parlor.”

Quiet Night at Frankfort Lighthouse

Frankfort Lighthouse at Night

Quiet Night at Frankfort Lighthouse, photo by Snap Happy Gal Photography

I was going to talk this morning about how I will continue to talk about what I want to talk about on Michigan in Pictures, but then I saw this awesome photo by Heather. I’m sure you get the idea.

On her Snap Happy Gal blog where you can view & purchase some great lighthouse photos, Heather writes:

I think of myself as a serendipitous shooter: I go out to scenes in all kinds of light – the good, the bad, even the ugly – and I take photos. Sometimes I walk away with artwork worth sharing, and sometimes I just walk away with happy memories. I don’t often stalk a scene for the best light, I don’t think of myself as having a favorite thing to photograph, and I don’t find that I’m predictable (even I don’t know when or where I’ll be heading out to shoot until I get the itch). But, lately, if you wanted to catch me out and about, you’d look at northern Michigan’s west coast lighthouses.

I’ve visited every one of them from Manistee up to Northport (though I didn’t take the camera out), and I’ve been there from sunrise to sunset, and well into the night.

Last Wednesday, I checked the weather and saw something I hadn’t seen in what felt like eons: the possibility for clear night skies. I packed my gear, my cold weather clothes, and food and water, and headed for the coast. I missed the best light in an incredible sunset, but caught the afterglow and the first light of the moon on the lakeshore just south of Empire. While the skies were still cloudy, I headed south into Frankfort to see how the ice was shaping up along the beach. By this time, the winds had died down almost entirely. The water inside the breakwall was very still, the forming ice chattered, and tiny waves sloshed against the icebergs beached on the sand.

Read on for the rest, view & comment on her picture on Facebook, and definitely follow Snap Happy Gal for great pics of lighthouses and much more.

More about the Frankfort North Breakwater Light on Michigan in Pictures.

Another Day, Another Mass Shooting

Something in the Air

Something in the Air, photo by Brian Wolfe

Another day, another mass shooting – this time in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Beyond right and left, can we all agree that we need to figure out why we’re the only nation in the world who has this tragic problem and work on actually addressing this problem?

I’m guessing bolstering our gutted mental health system is a great place to start.

View Brian’s photo from Kalamazoo’s Bronson Park background big and see more in his Black & White slideshow.

Detroit’s Grande Ballroom

Jeff Beck Group and Rod Stewart at the Grande Ballroom

Jeff Beck Group and Rod Stewart at the Grande Ballroom, photo courtesy Louder Than Love

The documentary Louder Than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story premieres on Detroit Public Television this Friday (Dec 18) at 8 PM. Dan Austin of Historic Detroit has a great look at the history of Detroit’s Grande Ballroom that says (in part):

Designed in 1928 by Charles N. Agree for dance hall entrepreneurs Edward J. Strata and his partner Edward J. Davis, the Grande started off as a place Detroiters would go to dance and listen to jazz and big band sounds, but it would later achieve immortal status in the annals of music history as a rock venue. It is arguably the birthplace of punk and hard-driving rock, where bands like The MC5 and The Stooges cut their chops and became legends.

The building was designed in the Moorish Deco style and contained storefront space on the first floor and on the second a ballroom with Moorish arches featuring a floor on springs that gave dancers the feeling of floating. The dance floor held 1,500 dancers and was one of the largest in the city. Its ground floor had several retail tenants, such as W.T. Grant Department Stores, Beverly’s and a drugstore. The neighborhood was a predominately Jewish enclave in the 1930s and ’40s.

…Russ Gibb, a social studies teacher at Maples Junior High School in Dearborn was a popular local radio DJ at the time. Gibb took a trip out to San Francisco to visit a friend in early 1966 and paid a visit to the storied Fillmore Auditorium and saw The Byrds. When he returned to Detroit, he set out to bring Bill Graham’s Fillmore to the Motor City. He scouted out several locations, including the then-closed, since-demolished Gayety Burlesque theater on Cadillac Square downtown and the ballroom of the Statler Hotel on Grand Circus Park, which also has been razed. He settled on the Grande, which was near the neighborhood he grew up in back in the 1940s and entered a rent-to-buy deal with the Kleinman family.

Read on for the story of how the Grande Ballroom grew through local acts like the MC5 to become the place to play in Detroit in the late 60s, hosting amazing acts including Led Zeppelin, John Lee Hooker, the Yardbirds, The Who, Cream, Pink Floyd, Canned Heat, the Jeff Beck Group, The Byrds, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf, the Velvet Underground, Canned Heat, and many more.

Watch the trailer for the movie below and see many more photos of the Grande past & present, on the Louder Than Love website. Also don’t miss their collection of posters for some of the concerts at the Grande Ballroom from artists Gary Grimshaw, Carl Lundgren, and Donnie Dope and be sure to check out the Louder Than Love group on Facebook for many more great photos!

When did summer end?

When Did Summer End

When did summer end?, photo by Cameron

Cameron took this 30 second exposure in heavy snowfall last week at Upland Hills Farm, which looks like a pretty cool place.

View the photo background bigtacular and see more in his Upland Hills Farm slideshow.

More winter wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Farewell, David West

Flint Eastwood

Flint Eastwood, photo by Joel Williams

The Lansing State Journal reports that Flint native & amp builder David West has passed away:

In the late 1960s, three Flint musicians were on a mission to emulate the power-trio sound of Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. They found a piece of it in David West’s 200-watt Fillmore amplifiers.

“Not only did they sound great, but they looked great,” said Don Brewer, the drummer for that Flint band, which eventually took the name Grand Funk Railroad.

West, a longtime resident of the Lansing area and architect of West Amps, died Nov. 10 at age 71. A Flint native, West last operated West Laboratories in Okemos, but started the business in Flint and operated in downtown Lansing for several years.

…”He was like a mad scientist in the shop. He’d get these fender amps and rip them all apart see how they were made and beat them up,” said Rob Grange, who built cabinets for West’s amplifiers. “He should have been a multi-millionaire. He was way ahead of his time.”

Read on for more, including news that West had intended to relaunch West Amps, which his son Aaron intends to continue. They don’t appear to have a website, but there is a Facebook page where more news might be shared.

View Joel’s photo bigger and see more of his concert photos right here.

In a wild coincidence that may be cool only to me, the band Flint Eastwood has a role in the post I’m hoping to feature tomorrow. So it goes…

More music on Michigan in Pictures.


The Great Storm of 1913 and the Last Voyage of the Henry B. Smith

Henry B Smith Great Storm of 1919

Henry B Smith LOC det 4a16048, photo by Detroit Publishing Co. (via Library of Congress)

In November I like to share stories of some of the ships that have been lost in the most dangerous month of shipping on the Great Lakes. November is a month when owners and captains have historically sought to bet the margins in their favor. Sometimes their gamble doesn’t pay off…

The Great Lakes Storm of 1913 is one that caught many ships in the wrong place at the wrong time. More or less via Wikipedia’s page:

The Great Lakes Storm of 1913 is historically referred to as the “Big Blow,” the “Freshwater Fury,” or the “White Hurricane.” It was a blizzard with hurricane-force winds that ravaged Michigan, Ontario and much of the Midwest from November 7-10, 1913. The storm was most powerful on November 9, battering and overturning ships on four of the five Great Lakes, particularly Lake Huron. Deceptive lulls in the storm and the slow pace of weather reports contributed to the storm’s destructiveness.

The deadliest and most destructive natural disaster ever to hit the lakes, the storm killed more than 250 people, destroyed 19 ships, and stranded 19 others. The financial loss in vessels alone was nearly US $5 million (or about $120 million in today’s dollars).

There’s so much more about this storm on the Wikipedia page and definitely check out this Michigan in Pictures post on the unique weather pattern on the Great Storm.

One of the ships lost to the lakes was the Henry B. Smith, a 525′ steel-hulled, propeller-driven lake freighter. Well…

The Smith arrived at Marquette on November 6 to take on iron ore. Over the next two days a southwest gale swept over Lake Superior, dropping the temperature to 24 degrees Fahrenheit. The cold weather caused the ore to freeze inside the hopper cars, requiring men to knock them loose by hand. This resulted in a loading delay for the Smith. Captain James Owen had been plagued by misfortunes all year that had resulted in the Smith being delayed or late for its destinations. Rumors abounded, then and now, that the owners of the boat made it clear to Owen that he better make this last trip on time, or else.

Around 5 p.m. on November 9, the Smith loaded its last car of ore. Since the gale seemed to be in a brief lull, the big freighter immediately backed away from the dock and began to leave. As soon as the Smith left Marquette Harbor, the fierce wind returned and the storm’s lull ended. Witnesses on shore noted that the deckhands were frantically trying to close the Smith‍ ’​s hatches. The freighter had a total of 32 hatches; each hatch required individual attention with locking bars, clamps, and tackle. It was a couple hours’ work for even the most skilled crew. And so it was that Captain James Owen was piloting the Henry B. Smith into one of the worst storms in memory with unsecured hatches.

After about twenty minutes, the full force of the gale hit the Smith as huge waves crashed over her deck, drenching the hapless deckhands who were still struggling to close the hatches. Instead of turning to starboard on the usual course for the Soo Locks, the Smith hauled to port, rolling greatly as she did so. Witnesses on shore concluded that Owen had realized his error and was heading for shelter behind Keweenaw Point to the north. With the encroaching darkness and thick snow squalls, the Smith was then lost from view.

Two days after the storm blew itself out, the beaches along Chocolay Bay, Shot Point, and Laughing Fish Point were littered with debris from the Smith. The wreckage was found high up on the beach, indicating it came ashore at the height of the storm. The body of the second cook, H.R. Haskin, was found floating about fifty miles west of Whitefish Point some days later. Only one other body of the Smith‍ ’​s crew was ever recovered; the skeleton of third engineer John Gallagher was found on Parisian Island in the spring of 1914.

A note in a bottle, allegedly from the Smith, was found in June 1914. In it, the author claimed the ship had broken in two 12 miles east of Marquette. After a long debate, the boat’s owners decided the note was a phony; it was dated 12 November, when the Smith sank either on the 9th or the early morning hours of the 10th.

Read on for more about the Smith. In May of 2013, the wreck of the Henry B. Smith was rediscovered in about 535 feet of water roughly 30 miles north of Marquette. The article is less kind to Captain “Dancing Jimmy” Owen – so named for his habit of frequenting local dance halls – than the Wikipedia version.

View the photo background big at Wikimedia.

More of the Freshwater Fury and more Michigan shipwrecks on Michigan in Pictures.