Michigan Front Porch is the World’s Longest!

Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel in the Early 2016 Season, photo by Corey Seeman

The Grand Hotel opened on Mackinac Island in the summer of 1887. At 660 feet, Grand Hotel’s Front Porch is the world’s largest. They note that early on the porch became the principal meeting place for all of Mackinac Island, a promenade for the elderly, and a “Flirtation Walk” for island romantics. Their History photo gallery has a couple of cool photos of the porch from back in the day.

Corey took this last weekend when the Hotel opened for the season. View it background bigtacular and click for tons more of his Mackinac Island photos.

More about the Grand Hotel on Michigan in Pictures, and here’s a video look at the porch:

 

Fiborn Quarry

Fiborn Quarry

Fiborn Quarry, photo by David Marvin

The Michigan Karst Conservancy’s page on Fiborn Quarry begins:

The unusually pure limestone found in what is now the Fiborn Karst Preserve led to development of Fiborn Quarry, which operated from early 1905 until January 1936. The quarry mined, crushed and shipped limestone for use mostly in steelmaking, but also calcium carbide manufacturing and road building.

A small town grew up next to the quarry, which included an elementary school, a boarding house, a company store and housing for employees and their families.

“You just felt like you were living in a little world all of your own. Just like there was no other place,” recalled one former resident who was 13 years old in 1930. “You had your grocery store. You had your post office. You had your school. You had your minister that came in there and gave services. And it just seemed like it was real private.”

Workers broke up the limestone with dynamite, steam shovels loaded the rock into cars which hauled it to a crusher. Crushed limestone was sorted into different sizes hauled on the railroad spur 3-4 miles north to Fiborn Junction and the main rail line to Sault Ste. Marie.

View David’s photo background big and see more from Fiborn in his slideshow.

Not In Kansas Anymore: L Frank Baum, the Wizard of Oz & Michigan

Not in Kansas Anymore

We’re Not In Kansas Anymore!, photo by Tina :O)

The Wizard of Oz rolled off the presses May 17, 1900. It’s one of my all-time favorite books. What you may not know is that L. Frank Baum, author of the beloved series, purchased a large, multi-story Victorian summer home on the southern end of the Macatawa peninsula on Lake Michigan.

Several years ago the Holland Sentinel published a cool piece about Baum and his Macatawa summer home that says (in part):

“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” supposedly was written in Chicago, but some of the forest scenes look just like the pathways that run through the dunes, the younger Baum said.

He assumes Macatawa was where part of the book had been worked on or written, as Baum might have found inspiration from the castle in Castle Park for the yellow brick road, some say, or even based some of the characters in the book on personalities he encountered in the small lakeshore community.

“Especially in the Oz stories, a lot of characters and situations that we may not recognize … he drew lots of inspiration from Macatawa for the book.”

Check out L. Frank Baum, The Goose Man of Macatawa on Absolute Michigan for more about the author’s Michigan ties and information about the Wizard of Oz festival slated for June in Ionia.

About the photo, Tina shares:

This freakie cloud formation started at the end of our wedding photo shoot. There were clouds swirling all over us but luckily no tornados formed. I added some sepia for a little Wizard Of Oz effect.

View her photo background bigtacular and see more in her Pure Michigan slideshow.

20 years of Pasty Central and the Pasty Cam

Upper Peninsula Michigan Miners

Let There Be Light, photo courtesy Pasty Central/Pasty.com

Pasty Central is  celebrating their 20th anniversary and vying for USA Today’s Best Pasty in Michigan. Click through to cast a vote for them or your favorite pasty shop.

Back in 2008, Charley of Pasty Central wrote about these UP miners who doubtless relied on the pasties in their bellies to survive:

In researching today’s Pasty Cameo I came across these men who had been entombed in Pewabic Mine at Iron Mountain for over 40 hours before they returned to the light of day. They had been trapped on the fourth level of the mine when a level above them collapsed. One of their co-workers didn’t make it out.

This picture is a good illustration of the “Tommy knocker”, a popular hat-candleholder in the 1800’s before carbide and acetylene lamps came along.

A feature of the site since 1998 has been the Pasty Cam, a daily photo that’s paired with a well-researched “This Day in History”. Today’s looks at how on on May 12, 1781 Mackinac Island (valued at 5000 pounds) passed from native tribes to the British – click to check it out!

The pasty, a savory pastry typically filled with meat & vegetables, was brought to the Upper Peninsula by Cornish miners. Check out Real Michigan Food: The Pasty on Absolute Michigan for lots more about this classic UP dish.

#TBT: 1915 Dodge Main

1915 Dodge Main

1915: Dodge Main, photo courtesy Eddie Abbott/Macomb County Memories

Eddie Abbott shared this photo in the Macomb County Memories group on Facebook, saying:

1915: Dodge Main; The Dodge Brothers’ Factory complex was built on a 30 acre site in rural Hamtramck in 1910 and featured a test track and hill climb adjacent to the manufacturing plant. Within a decade, it employed 20,000 workers and produced 145,000 cars, making the Dodge nameplate on of the most popular in the country and transforming Hamtramck into an automotive boom town along the lines of Highland Park. Five years after the brother’s deaths, their widows sold the company to a New York investment firm for $146 million, which in turn sold it to Walter P. Chrysler.

Head over to AllPar for a lot more about Dodge Main and some cool photos courtesy the Chrysler Club!

View the photo background bigtacular and see lots more cool pics in the Macomb County Memories group on Facebook!

More Throwback Thursdays (#TBT) on Michigan in Pictures!

Michigan’s Bird of Fire: Saving the Kirtland’s Warbler

Michigan Bird of Fire Kirtlands Warbler

Kirtland’s Warbler, photo by James Fox

On June 3-4, northeast Michigan will celebrate a Michigan conservation success story with the annual Kirtland’s Warbler Weekend that includes an Au Sable River Kayak Tour. You can also lend a hand this Saturday with the annual jack pine planting day through the Kirtland’s Warbler Initiative!

The Detroit News has a nice editorial by Michael Bean, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the U.S. Department of the Interior about how determination saved Michigan’s “Bird of Fire”, the Kirtland’s Warbler:

More than 60 years ago, scientists realized that the Kirtland’s warbler was in trouble. A 1951 census found fewer than 500 breeding pairs. The bird was among the first species ever listed as endangered and was the first species to ever have a “recovery team.”

Kirtland’s warblers will only nest in young jack pine forest. Jack pine requires fire to open its cones and spread its seeds — hence the nickname, “bird of fire.” Fire suppression policies last century led to the decline of the Kirtland’s warbler, as did parasitism from brown-headed cowbirds. The recovery team had to figure out a way to overcome these challenges to save the species.

Since 1974, the Kirtland’s Warbler Recovery Team has worked to save the species, even when the outlook for recovery was bleak. The recovery team brought together federal, state, academic, nonprofit, and even international partners.

Today, scientists estimate there are more than 4,000 Kirtland’s warblers in Michigan. The population has more than doubled its recovery goal, so the recovery team is no longer needed. Through years of hard work the partners figured out how to provide the conditions necessary for the warblers to survive, and the birds have flourished.

View James’ photo background big and see more in his Grayling 2009 slideshow.

#TBT: Detroit’s Masonic Temple

masonic temple auditorium detroit

masonic temple, photo by ryan southen

On April 27, 1764, a charter for the “Zion Lodge of Masons, No. 1” – the first Masonic Lodge west of the Alleghenies – was granted to Masons in Detroit. Since I’m going to see Portugal the Man/Cage the Elephant there next weekend, that’s close enough for me to learn a little bit more…

Detroit’s Masonic Temple (aka The Masonic) is the largest building of its kind in the world. Construction began in 1920 and was completed in 1926. They explain:

By 1908, interest and membership in Masonic fraternities had grown to such an extent that the Masonic Temple Association of Detroit began to consider either enlarging the existing Masonic Temple on Lafayette Boulevard or building a new, larger facility.

Land on Bagg Street (now Temple Avenue) was acquired and by 1920, the architectural firm George Mason and Company had completed an integrated design of a multi-function complex. Ground was broken on Thanksgiving Day, 1920. The cornerstone was laid on September 18, 1922, during a ceremony attended by thousands of Detroiters, using a trowel previously used by George Washington during the construction of the U.S. Capitol.

Significantly, the opening of the theater was celebrated during a concert by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ossip Gabrilowitsch, on February 22, 1926–George Washington’s birthday. The formal dedication of the building took place on Thanksgiving Day, 1926. Once again, thousands of Detroiters were present for the ceremony.

George Mason’s unique design included three theaters (one was never completed, but is sometimes used by movie-production crews), a Shrine building, the Chapel, eight lodge rooms, a 17,500 square foot drill hall, two ballrooms, office space, a cafeteria, dining rooms, a barber shop, 16 bowling lanes–1037 rooms in total–in addition to a powerhouse that generated all electricity for the complex.

Mason also incorporated the artistic conceptions of the sculptor, Corrado Parducci, in the building’s magnificent lobby, which was an adaptation of the interior of a castle he had visited in Palermo, Sicily. Parducci also designed light fixtures and chandeliers, decorative arches, medallions, plaster decorations, and a myriad of other artistic details that are unique to the many varied spaces in the building.

Head over to The Masonic for lots of panoramic tours and also a panoramic view of the Corner Stone Laying. Also, if the name George Mason rings a bell, click that link to learn about this prolific architect whose works include Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel!

View Ryan’s photo bigger, see more in his HDR slideshow, and follow him on Facebook at Ryan Southen Photography.

PS: Lots more Michigan architecture on Michigan in Pictures.

PPS: It’s also supposedly very haunted!