Baby Blue and Storms

Baby Blue & Storms by Jamie MacDonald

Baby Blue and Storms by Jamie MacDonald

One of the defining factors of Summer 2021 in Michigan is a four letter word: rain. In addition to being one of our warmest summers on record, it’s also been one of the wettest as the Detroit News reports

Flint notched its third wettest summer with 15.84 inches of rain. Detroit took seventh with 15.28. Saginaw ranked eighth with 13.30.

Detroit’s total included the 2.73 inches recorded Aug. 12 amid severe storms that left more than 900,000 residents across the state without electricity, some for up to a week.

Although only one daily rainfall total was broken July 16, when 2.20 inches were recorded at Detroit Metro, at least four significant flood events doused the region this summer, the weather service said.

Among them was the June 25-26 episode that flooded thousands of homes, resulting in a federal disaster declaration.

The Traverse City Ticker adds that summer 2021 was the wettest ever for Traverse City & Gaylord with Gaylord, Alpena, and Sault Ste. Marie notching their hottest summers ever.

While the rain has been a major headache for many, as Jamie writes, the skies can get pretty amazing when storms come rolling through around sunset! See more stormy goodness in his Stormy Weather gallery. You can also check out his podcasts on photography & his photography workshops at Mirrorless Minutes.

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Wide Car Wednesday: 1964 Caddy

1964 Cadillac by Charles Bonham

1964 Cadillac by Charles Bonham

I can never get enough of these great old cars!! Charles took this earlier this month at the Cool City Car Show in Bay City. See more on his Flickr!

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The 1938 Phantom Corsair: Different by Design

1938 Phantom Corsair by Alden Jewell

1938 Phantom Corsair by Alden Jewell

In their Story of the Week feature, the Motor Cities National Historic Area shares the story of the “different by design” 1938 Phantom Corsair:

The Phantom Corsair was one of the most unique automotive designs ever when it was introduced to the public in 1938. he model was designed by Rust Heinz, who once had a dream of what an American supercar should look like. Heinz was from the well-known family that made its fortune selling condiments like ketchup and mustard across the country.

The Phantom Corsair was intended for a limited manufacturing run and would have sold for $15,000 on the consumer market. However, that price was a problem for the Phantom Corsair since it was designed and engineered when most Americans were still struggling with the Great Depression.

The Phantom Corsair was a prototype 2-door model sedan. A clay scale model featured an aerodynamic shape that was sleek and futuristic. The model offered room for six passengers … Heinz’s parents disapproved in the beginning of his developing the Phantom Corsair. His aunt ultimately agreed to fund the project. Unfortunately, Heinz was killed in an auto accident in July 1939, and the Phantom Corsair project came to an end.

…For many years since, automotive writers and historians have said that “Although sometimes dismissed as a failure because it never entered production, the Corsair is regarded as ahead of its time because of its futuristic features and styling cues such as faired-in fender and a low profile.”

The Phantom Corsair prototype offered an electric push-button door operation, along with green tinted triple-layer safety glass windows, hydraulic impact bumpers, and fog lights for nighttime driving. The instrument panel offered a flush design with a dozen instruments that included a compass and altimeter. The interior offered an aviation design theme with a warning light that signaled when the door was ajar. Other features included a multi-wave radio with twin speakers plus a great air conditioning and heating system. The prototype model used a Cord V8 Lycoming engine with a front wheel drive transmission.

Read more & see some really great photos at motorcities.org!

For a chance to really geek out on some wild automotive designs, have a look at Alden’s Concept Vehicles & Prototypes gallery on Flickr.

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The Detroit Flood of June 2021

Detroit Flood by Camera Jesus

Detroit Flood by Camera Jesus

On Friday night as much as 7″ of rain fell in the city of Detroit creating a truly nightmarish situation as the New York Times reports:

Up to seven inches of rain fell early on Saturday in parts of Detroit and Wayne County, Mich., stranding hundreds of vehicles on flooded freeways and prompting the rescue of about 50 drivers, officials said.

“This isn’t normal here,” said Lt. Michael Shaw, a spokesman for the Michigan State Police. “Every freeway in the county had some level of flooding.”

By 3 p.m. Saturday, the authorities counted about 350 vehicles that had been damaged in the flooding.

“Some suffered some type of wire damage, some had water up to the top of their tires, some had it up to windows, and some were completely submerged,” Lieutenant Shaw said. “A lot of people thought they could make it through the water, but there was just no way.”

You can see some shots reader-submitted shots from across the city at Click on Detroit.

The photo was taken Saturday on I-94 aka the Edsel Ford Freeway by Joe Gall aka Camera Jesus. Click the pic for several more shots, follow him @camera_jesus on Instagram & for sure check out his website to view and purchase his work!

More Michigan flooding including the Detroit Flood of 2014 on Michigan in Pictures.

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The GM Futurliner

GM Futurliner by Bruce Bertz

GM Futurliner by Bruce Bertz

Wikipedia’s entry for GM Futurliners explains that these wild custom vehicles were designed in the 1940s for General Motors by the legendary Harley Earl:

Originally manufactured for the 1939 New York World’s Fair, the Futurliners were later featured in GM’s Parade of Progress, a promotional caravan travelling a 150-stop route across the United States and Canada. The Futurliners, along with 32 support vehicles, were driven by 50 college graduates, who also staffed the exhibitions along the route.

Typically arranged at each stop around a large tent and an information kiosk, each Futurliner featured a self-contained stage as well as a prominent deployable light tower, and each vehicle featured a particular subject. The mobile exhibition covered such topics as jet engine technology, agriculture, traffic engineering, stereophonic sound, microwave ovens, television and other innovations.

At 33 feet long, 8 feet wide, more than 11 feet tall, and weighing more than 12 tons, each Futurliner featured heavily stylized art deco, streamlined bodywork, deep red side and white roof paint, large articulated chrome side panels, a military-grade 302 cubic inch GMC straight-six gasoline engine and automatic transmission, whitewall tires and a prominent, high-mounted, centrally located driver command position with a panoramic windshield.

There are only nine of these left & the last one to sell sold for a cool $4 million!! Photos & more info at Wikipedia. You may also enjoy the many pics & stories including a restoration project at Futureliner.org.

Bruce took this photo at Wing & Wheels at the Yankee Air Museum & you can see more shots in his Yankee Air Museum 2021 gallery on Flickr.

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America’s First Urban Freeway: Detroit’s Davison Freeway

The Davison Urban Freeway by Wayne State University

The Davison Urban Freeway by Wayne State University

The Daily Detroit is one of my favorite Michigan podcasts, and their story on The Davison, America’s First Urban Freeway in Detroit is pretty cool: 

While freeways are pretty standard in American cities now, it wasn’t always that way. Instead of the ability to potentially go up to 70 miles an hour like on today’s highways, motorists had to use regular city streets to cross town. That was especially the case for motorists who wanted to cross Highland Park and enter Detroit.

Everyone piled onto Davison Avenue, the only large street that ran through Highland Park and connected to Detroit running roughly east to west. The avenue and freeway was named after an English immigrant from the 1840s that settled in the area, Jared Davison (it was then Hamtramck Township). His farm was approximately between Woodward and Oakland avenues along the south side of the street.

It wasn’t uncommon for drivers to spend 15 minutes sitting in traffic to reach Detroit. By 1940, thanks to Detroit’s growth and the growth of auto factories, Davison Avenue was approaching gridlock during rush hour by 1940.

…By November 1942, the five and a half mile long Davison Freeway was finished. It opened without a dedication ceremony, probably due to the desperate need the defense plants had for a functioning freeway. Despite its lack of dedication, the freeway became the first one of its kind – an urban freeway meant to connect one part of a metro area with another with as little interruption as possible.

…Ironically, the invention from Highland Park eventually played a key role in emptying the city out. In 1992, Chrysler moved their headquarters down the road – off of I-75 with a special off-ramp built for the development – to Auburn Hills, to follow the trend of suburban sprawl that the American highway system helped enable.

Read more at the Daily Detroit!

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Get on the (green) bus, Gus

MTA Flint Hydrogen Bus

Hydrogen Bus at the Capitol by MTA Flint

Kyle Davidson of the Great Lakes Echo has an excellent feature looking at a new, $30 million program to help Michigan’s public companies and private businesses buy low emission freight trucks, buses, tugboats and cargo handling equipment:

Beneficiaries of the program choose electric, alternative fuel or new diesel models, said Nick Assendelft, a public information officer for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. The first round of funding will provide $16 million to replace outdated freight trucks and buses with new models. At least half of that is earmarked for electric vehicles.

…Later rounds of funding include opportunities to replace Great Lakes tug and ferry boats, airport ground support equipment, port cargo handling equipment and forklifts.

…Some organizations are already transitioning their fleets to alternative fuels. Over the past 11 years the Mass Transportation Authority of Flint and Genesee County has reduced annual diesel fuel use from 1.4 million gallons to 30,000 gallons. The public transportation agency has done that by converting its fleet to run on compressed natural gas, propane and hydrogen, said Edgar Benning, the authority’s chief executive officer.

Fueling a hydrogen bus costs about twice as much as fueling a diesel bus, Benning said. In return for the extra cost, you get almost double the mileage. Along with the performance and the maintenance of the vehicles, you really pick the cost up on the other side, Benning said.

Alternative fuel vehicles make up 95% of the authority’s fleet. They provide fixed-route busing along with transportation services for seniors and people with disabilities. The authority also has about 200 cars to provide non-emergency medical transportation. 

Lots more in the Echo!

The photo comes from MTA Flint, Genessee County’s transit authority.

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Happy 184th, Michigan!

Michigan Sign at State Line 1958

Michigan Sign at State Line 1958 by State of Michigan

January 26th is Michigan Statehood Day, Michigan’s 184th birthday. I put together some fun facts about Michigan back in 2012. They’re still true and still fun!

  • Michigan is derived from the Indian word Michigama, meaning great or large lake. (more about Michigan’s name on Michigan in Pictures)
  • French explorers Étienne Brulé & Grenoble are the first recorded Europeans to set foot in Michigan (you never know though). In 1668 Fathers Jacques Marquette and Claude Dablon established the first mission at Sault Ste. Marie, and in 1701, French officer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded  Fort Pontchartrain in Detroit.
  • The Michigan Territory was created, with Detroit designated as the seat of government and William Hull appointed as our first governor.
  • Michigan became the 26th state on the 26th of January, 1837. Is 26 our lucky number? FYI, our first State governor was Stevens T. Mason, the 25 year-old Boy Governor (the youngest state governor in American history).
  • Michigan’s nickname is “the Wolverine State”. It is generally believed to have been coined during the 1835 Toledo War between Michigan and Ohio, when our southern rivals gave us the name due to the wolverine’s reputation for sheer orneriness!
  • The Great Seal of Michigan was designed by Lewis Cass and was patterned after the seal of the Hudson Bay Fur Company. It depicts an elk on the left and a moose on the right supporting a shield that reads Tuebor (“I will protect”).The interior of the shield shows a figure on the shore with the sun rising over a lake. His right hand is raised, symbolizing peace, but he holds a rifle in his left hand, showing readiness to defend the state and nation.Below the shield is the inscription of our state motto Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice: “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.” (I just learned that Michigan has an Office of the Great Seal – how cool would it be to say you worked there??)
  • The original State Capitol of Michigan was Detroit, and it moved to Lansing in 1847 to help develop the western side of the state and due to the need to develop the western portions of the state and for easy defense from British troops. Here’s a pic of Michigan’s original Capitol Building and an 1890s view of the current Michigan capitol.
  • Michigan is the 10th largest state by area if you count the water … and who wouldn’t count the water??
  • Speaking of water, we have 3,288 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, good for second to only Alaska in coastline!

I originally got this photo from the Archives of Michigan’s Flickr account, but they’ve gotten rid of that. You can get all kinds of fun stories & facts from Michiganology.org though! 

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DNR Reopening Michigan Campgrounds & Harbors

When Hobbits ran Detroit by Andrew McFarlane

When Hobbits Ran Detroit by Andrew McFarlane

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced opening dates for campgrounds, harbors and other outdoor spaces as Michigan moves to Stage 4 of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Safe Start plan:

“We are excited to open up these resources to visitors again,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “We can identify with the passion and enthusiasm people have for these beautiful outdoor spaces, especially during the warmer months, and we’re working hard to make sure everything is ready.”

Official opening dates include:

  • Dispersed camping on state-managed lands – which allows for greater social distancing and does not involve shared restroom or shower facilities – resumed May 29.
  • Camping at the state’s more than 140 rustic state forest campgrounds and overnight stays in DNR-managed harbors resume Wednesday, June 10.
  • Camping, overnight lodging facilities, day-use shelters and sanitation stations (common place to dispose recreation vehicle wastewater) in state parks and recreation areas reopen Monday, June 22. Please note that a handful of campgrounds have extended closures due to construction that was delayed due to the COVID-19 stay-home order and associated spending restrictions.
  • Many park amenities, such as bathroom buildings, hand-washing stations, trash services, concessions, playgrounds and play equipment, viewing platforms, fishing piers, GaGa ball pits, designated dog areas, disc golf courses, radio-controlled flying fields, pump tracks, and picnic tables and shelters, are beginning to open in phases. As anticipated opening dates are finalized, they will be posted to the DNR COVID-19 response page.

You can see campgrounds & make reservations at MiDNRReservations.com or call 800-44PARKS.

I took this picture way back in 2008. More in my Leelanau gallery on Flickr.

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#TBT Green Hornet

Green Hornet by Steve

Green Hornet by Steve

Oh yeah. Here’s a throwback Thursday from way back in 2006!

See more in Steve’s Film Scans album.