Stannard Rock Lighthouse

Stannard Rock Lighthouse, photo by Michigan Tech University College of Engineering

I came across this stunning video overflight of Stannard Rock Lighthouse last month and discovered a lighthouse I wasn’t familiar with.

Stannard Rock Lighthouse at Lighthouse Friends says (in part):

Stannard Rock, a substantial reef barely covered by the waters of Lake Superior, was named for its discoverer, Captain Charles C. Stannard of the American Fur Company, who charted the hazard in 1835. Because of its remoteness – the nearest land is twenty-five miles away, and the harbor at Marquette is distant forty-five miles – the lighthouse atop the reef has been called “the loneliest spot in the United States” and “the loneliest lighthouse in the world.”

The first plan to mark the reef came in 1849, when $1,000 was appropriated for “a floating bell at Stannard rock,” but as this amount was insufficient to moor a vessel with a bell there, it appears the effort was abandoned. In 1866, the Lighthouse Board determined the time had come to mark the nearly hidden menace to navigation:

Stannard’s rock, lying about twenty-three miles southeast of Manitou Island light, is the most serious danger to navigation in Lake Superior. This shoal is about three-fourths of a mile in extent; it rises two and a half to three feet above the water, and is fifteen or twenty feet in diameter. Its exact locality is known to but few; being so far from land it is seldom seen, and is much dreaded by all navigators. The increasing commerce of the lakes will, at no distant day, demand that it be marked by a light-house, the construction of which will, from the circumstances of its location, be a serious engineering difficulty. As a preliminary to this, and to render navigators familiar with its location, the board recommend that it be marked by a day-beacon, to be composed of a single wrought-iron shaft, not less than one foot in diameter, surmounted by a cage that would be visible not less than five or six miles.

…Stannard Rock Lighthouse stands seventy-eight feet tall and exhibits its light at a height of 102 feet above Lake Superior. The tower tapers from a diameter of twenty-nine feet at the pier to just under eighteen feet at the lantern room, while the seven floors inside the tower all have a diameter of fourteen feet.

Read on for a whole lot more about the history of this now abandoned light, including photos.

The photo comes from the Michigan Tech College of Engineering, part of the documentation of their Ecology of Lake Superior aboard the EPA Research Vessel Lake Guardian presentation. It’s pretty cool and I definitely recommend clicking through to see more photos & video and read about their mission.

View the pic big as Lake Superior and see more in their Lake Superior on board the RV Lake Guardian slideshow.

Pontiac Silverdome

Pontiac Silverdome, photo by Mathew Davey

With the departure of some key players including Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Reggie Bush and addition of new faces including Ravens stalwart Haloti Ngata, the Lions have had a fairly eventful offseason. One place that not much is happening is the Lions’ former home, the massive and now domeless Pontiac Silverdome.

Stadiums of Pro Football’s page on the Pontiac Silverdome says that this modern-day ruin was designed by O’Dell/Hewlett & Luckenbach and built at a cost of $55 million:

Home of the Detroit Lions for more than 25 years, the Silverdome was one of the largest stadiums in the NFL. Prior to moving into the Silverdome, the Detroit Lions had played at Tiger Stadium since 1938, that was also the home of the Detroit Tigers (MLB). Tiger Stadium was primarily a baseball stadium, but served as the home to the Lions for more than 30 years. In the late 1960s, the team wanted a new football only stadium. After several bonds were passed allowing the team to build a stadium, the Lions bought land in nearby Pontiac, MI. Because of the area’s cold winter weather, the team decided to build a domed stadium. Construction on the stadium, named the Pontiac Silverdome, began on September 19, 1973 and was completed in 23 months.

Opening day for the Lions at the Silverdome was on October 6, 1975. The Silverdome became the largest stadium in the NFL with a capacity of 80,311. Three tiers of blue seats circled the entire Astroturf playing field. The roof at the Silverdome consisted of Teflon-coated fiberglass panels. In 1985 after a heavy snowstorm the roof was structurally damaged. However over the next several months a new canvas and steel-girder reinforced roof was added to prevent the problem from occurring again. The Silverdome had several amenities that included 93 executive suites and a club restaurant. Other than hosting football games, the Silverdome hosted many other events including tractor pulls, soccer and basketball games, and concerts. The first Super Bowl played in a northern city, Super Bowl XVI between the Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers, was played at the Silverdome. In the mid 1990s, the Lions became dissatisfied with the Silverdome. By 1997, bonds were passed allowing construction of a new domed stadium in downtown Detroit. The Lions played their final game at the Silverdome on January 6, 2002. The team moved into Ford Field in August 2002.

The Oakland Press has 89 historical photos of the Silverdome including a couple with Barry Sanders. If you want to go get all depressed instead, head over to Curbed Detroit for the saga of the godawful mess the Silverdome has become.

Matthew took this photo in December of 2014. Click to view it big as the Silverdome!

More Detroit Lions on Michigan in Pictures.

Comerica Sunset

Sunset – Comerica Park, photo by Kevin Povenz

At 1:08 PM today the Detroit Tigers face the Minnesota Twins in their 2015 home opener at Comerica Park. The Tigers’ timeline page begins:

On April 24, 1901, the Tigers prepared to take to the field for their first official American League game. A standing room only crowd was anticipated at Bennett Park, but unpredictable weather postponed the opening by a day.

On that historic afternoon, April 25, 1901, in front of 10,000 fans, the Tigers entered the ninth inning trailing Milwaukee, 13-4. A series of hits and miscues followed, moving the score to 13-12 with two runners on. With two out, Tiger Frank “Pop” Dillon faced reliever Bert Husting, and the lefthanded hitter rapped a two-run double to complete a 14-13 comeback win.

View Kevin’s photo bigger and see more in his Tigers slideshow.

Lots more Detroit Tigers on Michigan in Pictures!

Detroit Police Radio Prowl Car
Detroit Police Radio Prowl Car, photo by Ronnie

I think the guy on the right is replaced by a computer in the 2015 version. About the photo, Ronnie writes:

Before the World War II started in Europe, 1939 was expected to be an exceptional year. America was filled with optimism, and with the Great Depression winding down, the nation was looking forward to what the coming decade of the 1940s would bring. Even the theme of the World’s Fair in New York was billed as “the world of tomorrow,” especially when it came to consumer and industrial electronics. However, for the Detroit Police Department one of the most important technological advancements in the world of law enforcement had become a reality.

Many electronics experts at the turn of the 1920s, said it would take another five decades before you would see two-way radios available for use in motor vehicles. While this philosophy was taken as gospel; several Amateur Radio operators pushed the envelope of experimentation to it’s zenith in their basements, and workshops across America. The fruits of their labor came to the forefront in the mid-to-late 1930s, which proved that two-way radio technology was viable for use by police officers in the field.

Earlier attempts at using two-way radio communications in the Motor City in 1934 had several drawbacks. The biggest was the cost, which was around $700 to equip each vehicle with the very large, and bulky equipment that took up the entire back seat and trunk of the patrol car. Not only did it take up a lot of space, but it really added a lot of weight that was hard on the vehicles’ suspension system.

Read on for more and to see the picture bigger and definitely check out Ronnie’s History photos for 100+ more photos from Michigan’s past with all kinds of great details!

More #TBT and more Michigan history on Michigan in Pictures.

Michigan-Tech-Hockey

Michigan Tech vs Minnesota State, photo by Michigan Tech Huskies

There’s just one Michigan team that will compete for a chance to appear in the NCAA hockey Frozen Four, and it’s a perennial hockey power that you may not know about: the Michigan Tech Huskies.

Tech has won three national titles in 1962, 1965 and 1972, and the Huskies (29-9-2) are currently ranked 5th in the nation and tied for most wins in the country this year. They received an at large bid to the tourney and take the ice as the #2 seed in the West region this Friday at 4:30 PM vs St. Cloud State. (details)

Here’s the beginning of a really excellent New York Times feature from last December entitled Stirring Passions in Hockey Hotbed:

Hockey rules this remote part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where it is played by everyone from children to those in their 70s and 80s. All through the long winter it is always game on — in modern arenas, outside (into the wee hours of the night) and in two of the oldest hockey rinks in the world.

Professional hockey was born here in Copper Country in 1902, 15 years before the N.H.L. was formed. Even before that, the game was king in Houghton, Hancock, Calumet and nearby towns when they were at the center of a mining boom.

The mining is gone, the woods dotted with abandoned buildings and ghost towns. Only about 44,000 live in the area now, but the love affair with hockey endures. And the Michigan Tech Huskies are winning again, at last.

Tech’s hockey tradition stretches back 95 years and includes three N.C.A.A. Division I titles, in the 1960s and ’70s, but the Huskies have finished above .500 only once since 1993.

This season, though, they opened with 10 straight victories, their best start in history, and achieved their first No. 1 ranking. Now 13-3-0, Tech is ranked No. 5, having split a two-game series with No. 7 Minnesota-Duluth last week.

I really recommend that you click to read on at the Times for a great feel of the rich history of hockey in the Copper Country. If you want a lot more MTU hockey history, check out Copper Country Hockey History. Their compendium of Michigan Tech Hockey History begins with MTU’s crushing 30-0 destruction of Eagle River that still stands as the record for most goals in a game and rolls through nearly 100 years of hockey.

The photo above was taken during the WCHA Tournament Championship game on Saturday which the Huskies lost 5-2 to tourney top seed Minnesota State. View it and more in their gallery, get lots more at michigantechhuskies.com and be sure to follow them on Facebook & Twitter.

Poe Reef under construction

Poe Reef Lighthouse under construction, courtesy National Archives & Lighthouse Friends

Estately has compiled a list of what each state has the most of and for once, Michigan appears to have come off well:

Michigan has the most lighthouses and the most engineers per capita. So if you’re a photographer looking for a romantic getaway weekend with an eligible engineer, then Michigan is your paradise.

Click through for the whole list from Alabama (racist tweets) to Wyoming (people who chew tobacco).

It was easy to find a connection between lighthouses (of which we once had 247, still at least 125) and engineers (60,000) in the person of Orlando Metcalfe Poe, who coincidentally enough, would be celebrating his 183rd birthday today. After reviewing his service in the Civil War, Terry Pepper of Seeing the Light writes in Orlando Metcalfe Poe: The Great Engineer of the Western Great Lakes:

With the end of the Civil War, Poe assumed the position of Engineer Secretary of the Lighthouse Board in 1865, in which capacity he was charged with the supervision of building projects. In 1870, he was promoted to Chief Engineer of the Upper Great Lakes Lighthouse District.

In this capacity, Poe was responsible for all lighthouse construction, and he was largely responsible for the design of a style of lighthouse tower that has become known as the “Poe style” tower. These towers are all tall brick structures, with a gentle taper from bottom to top. All of the Poe designed feature graceful embellishments in the form of masonry gallery support corbels and arch topped windows. Exemplified by the towers at Grosse Pointe and Presque Isle, all together Poe was responsible for the construction of a number of such towers throughout Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron.

…Many consider Poe’s crowning achievement to be the engineering, design and supervision of a new lock to at Sault St. Marie during the 1890’s. This project was instrumental in the development of commerce on the Great Lakes, permitting large ore carrying vessels from mining regions bordering Lake Superior to access the lower Great Lakes and Atlantic seaboard. At a length of eight hundred feet, and with a width of 100 feet wide, the new lock was the largest in the world, and in honor of the designer was named “Poe Lock,” a name that it carries to this day.

Connect the dots to the Poe Reef Lighthouse, about which Lighthouse Friends explains:

From the southeast point of Bois Blanc Island, a spit covered with fifteen feet of water extends a mile into Lake Huron, and five-eighths of a mile beyond this spit lies dangerous Poe Reef, a detached shoal, with a least depth of just twelve feet. In 1892, the Craig Shipbuilding Company of Toledo, Ohio was contracted to build four lightships for use on the Great Lakes. LV 62, a wooden-hulled vessel with a length of just over eighty-seven feet, was placed on Poe Reef on September 29, 1893, while her three sister ships LV 59, LV 60, and LV 61 were stationed, respectively, on Bar Point, Eleven Foot Shoal, and Corsica Shoal. With a red hull and POE REEF stenciled on its sides in white letters, LV 62 displayed a fixed white light from her foremast to mark the north side of the eastern entrance to South Channel.

LV 62 served Poe Reef, which is named after Orlando M. Poe, who served as the chief engineer of the eleventh lighthouse district, through the 1910 season, and then swapped stations with LV 59. In 1915, Poe Reef received a steel-hulled lightship, when LV 96 replaced LV 59. LV 96 marked the reef through the 1920 shipping season, and the following spring LV 99 started its service at Poe Reef.

The Lake Carriers’ Association had requested a permanent lighthouse and fog signal for Poe Reef as early as 1913, but it wasn’t until 1926 that the Commissioner of Lighthouses requested funds for such a project. Besides being less costly to maintain, lighthouses had an additional advantage over lightships: they could remain on station throughout the year rather than having to be withdrawn when ice started to form on the lakes.

Read on for more information and photos of the Poe Reef lightship, the construction of the lighthouse and modern photos. Also tune in the Michpics Facebook for a recent photo of Poe Reef.

More history and lots more lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures – enjoy your weekend everyone!

Big Red & Blue Ice

Reflections of a cold sunset, photo by Tony Reidsma

Here’s an incredible shot of Big Red aka the Holland Harbor Lighthouse. In his extensive article on the history of the Holland Harbor Light, Terry Pepper explains how the nickname came to be:

A Coast Guard crew arrived in Holland in 1956, and gave the combined fog signal building and lighthouse a fresh coat of bright red paint in order to conform to its “Red Right Return” standard, which called for all aids to navigation located on the right side of a harbor entrance to be red in coloration. Local residents thus began referring to the fifty year old structure as “Big Red,” a name which has stuck through the years. The Fourth Order lens was subsequently removed from the fog signal lantern in the late 1960’s, and replaced with a 250 mm Tidelands Signal acrylic optic.

With the fading of the Great Lakes passenger fleet, Holland Harbor had ceased to serve any real commercial traffic. With the station now serving only as a beacon to guide pleasure boats in and out of Lake Macatawa, the Coast Guard announced plans to abandon the old fog signal building to eliminate ongoing maintenance costs in 1972. Over the years, “Big Red” had become as much of an iconic symbol of tourist-centered Holland as tulips and windmills, and fearing the loss of their beloved landmark, the citizenry of Holland gathered together and circulated petitions in an attempt to save the historic structure. To this end, the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Commission was formed in 1974 to coordinate preservation and restoration efforts, and continues to manage the structure to this day.

View Tony’s photo big as Big Red on Facebook and see and purchase some of his work at imagesforyourwalls.com.  If you’re in an icy mood, consider attending the opening of his Frozen In Time exhibition at the Holland Arts Council from March 5 – April 18, 2015. The opening reception is March 5th, starting at 6pm.

More winter wallpaper and more lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures!

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