Big Red, White Snow & Blue Ice

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  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!

Earth Wind … and Snow

Earth Wind and Snow

Earth Wind and Snow, photo by Beth

One of the lesser known bands of the 70s…

View Beth’s photo from the beach at Holland background bigtacular and see more in her Winter slideshow.

More winter wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!

Tulip Time in Holland

Yellow Tulips
Yellow Tulips, photo by srab44_2000

Holland’s annual celebration of Dutch heritage and culture, the Tulip Time Festival, starts Friday May 4th and runs through May 11th. While last year’s crazy March heatwave had tulips blooming in mid-April, tulips have been in the slow lane in 2013 due to a cool spring. The good news according to meteorologist Bill Steffen is that a well-timed warmup should have tulips in near perfect bloom this year.

Check this photo out background bigtacular and see more in E. Benson’s Tulip Time Festival 05/2009 slideshow.

More tulips and more Holland on Michigan in Pictures.

Locally Known as “the Bowl”

Locally Known as "the Bowl"

Locally Known as “the Bowl”, photo by karstenphoto

EDIT: Wow I really messed this one up, sleepily citing an article that gave the dune’s age in the millions of years. Thanks to Tom Burrows for the catch. Let’s see if this information on coastal dunes from the DNR makes more sense:

Michigan’s glacial history provides an explanation for the formation of dunes. The Great Lakes dune complex is relatively young, in terms of geological time. As recently as 16,000 years ago, Michigan was covered with glacial ice thousands of feet thick. This glacial ice contained a mix of boulders, cobbles, sand, and clay. During glacial melting, this deposit was left and is known as glacial drift.

This glacial drift is the source of sand in most of Michigan’s dunes. The sands were either eroded from glacial drift along the coast by wave activity or eroded from inland deposits and carried by rivers and streams. Only the hardest, smallest, and least soluble sand grains were moved. Waves and currents eventually moved these tiny rocks inland, creating beaches along the Great Lakes shoreline.

…Blowouts are saddle shaped or U shaped (parabolic) depressions in a stabilized sand dune, caused by the local destabilization of the dune sands. Blowouts, which originate on the summit or windward face of a dune, are often rapidly formed by the wind, creating narrow channels and exposing plant roots. Blowouts can create interruptions in the shape of parallel dunes that may result in deeply carved indentions called parabolic dunes. It is the combination of interwoven parallel dune ridges and U shaped depressions, including parabolic dunes, that characterizes the classic dunes from Indiana, northward to Ludington, in Michigan.

Awesome Michigan wrote a little about The Bowl at Holland saying:

The Bowl is an gigantic sand bowl, resembling a sort of concave desert. Along with the other dunes and Lake Michigan itself, The Bowl was carved out of the earth by glaciers millions of years ago and was likely a small lake before drying up. Standing at the center of The Bowl and being surrounded on all sides by enormous walls of sand is quite breathtaking. The landscape is truly like no other. This awesome sight alone makes a trip to Laketown a summer necessity and a great, relaxing place to bring friends and family.

You can also check in there on Foursquare. Here’s another shot from the bowl from all the way back in 2007. Amazing to me how long Michigan in Pictures has endured – thank you all for staying with me!

Check Stephen’s photo out big as the Bowl and see this and many more in his FILM! slideshow.

More dunes on Michigan in Pictures.

Holland Harbor’s Big Red Lighthouse and the Red Right Return

Big Red

Big Red, photo by Rick Lanting

Sometimes I see photos of certain places so much that I figure I’ve said all there is to say about them. Such was the case with one of one of Michigan’s most iconic lighthouses. I realized that although I’d seen hundreds of photos, I had no idea how “Big Red” in Holland got its name. Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light tells the story of the Holland Harbor Light from the construction of a timber frame beacon on the south pier in 1870 up until the 1930s when:

The Holland Lights were electrified in 1932. Equipped with a 5,000 candlepower incandescent electric bulb, the Fourth Order lens was now visible for a distance of 15 miles. The old steam-operated ten-inch fog whistle was removed from the fog signal building the following year, and replaced with an air operated whistle powered by an electric motor-driven compressor. In 1936, a square tower was erected at the west end of the fog signal building roof peak, and capped with an octagonal cast iron lantern, the lens from the pierhead beacon moved into the new lantern. The steel pierhead beacon was then removed from the pier and shipped to Calumet, where it was placed at the south end of the breakwater.

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.

Much more including photos at Seeing the Light.

Check this out Big Red big and see more in Rick’s Lighthouses or Hipstamatic slideshows.

Many more Michigan lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures!

On the lookout for rain

Big Red

Big Red, photo by [DennisT]

Bloomberg is reporting that the Midwest drought is now affecting nearly 80% of the corn crop, over half of the US and is a factor in heat waves that have set or tied a whopping 6,639 daily high temperature records since June 1. The drought is already affecting southern and west Michigan and parts of the UP and appears likely to expand into northern Michigan as well.

This Detroit News article reports that the percentage of the state affected by severe drought has jumped to 21% from just 2% a week ago. The State Drought Monitor shows the level of drought severity in Michigan, and you can see more with the Midwest region map and the Michigan Interactive Drought Conditions map. This report on Yahoo lists some of the highlights (lowlights?) of Michigan’s 2012 drought:

  • Rainfall shortages since May 1 are up to six inches in some areas. The average rainfall at this time of year is eight to nine inches.
  • Last week, the Michigan State University Extension (of the Department of Geology) reported that across Michigan, particularly in the southwestern part of the state, there was evidence of plant water stress.
  • MSU Extension says that the extreme heat from the first week of July exacerbated crop concerns. Temperatures rose to high 90s and topped 100 degrees in some areas.
  • The Michigan DEQ has issued several ozone alerts already this year. Michigan cities of Ann Arbor, Detroit, Ludington and Benton Harbor have been under air quality alert for 14-15 days since late May. Grand Rapids, Mich., has been under ozone alert for 17 days.
  • MSU Extension says the intense drought across Michigan’s southern, central and eastern Corn Belt region has similar conditions to the great drought of 1988.
  • …and the bad news: Continued dryness in Michigan is predicted for the rest of July, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center.

Check out this great capture from the other day on black and in Dennis’s thunderstorm slideshow.

More about Holland’s Big Red Lighthouse on Michigan in Pictures.

(not) Tulip Time

early tulips in downtown Holland

early tulips in downtown Holland, photo by Alissa Holland

The Tulip Time website says that there are 31 days until the annual festival celebrating the city of Holland’s Dutch heritage and the beautiful tulip. The festival runs May 5-12, 2012, but nobody told the tulips. As the photo shows, some of Holland’s 100,000+ tulips are beginning to bloom. They are expected to peak by mid-April, and the city is encouraging tulip lovers to visit now and then come back for the festival. They add that the festival will proceed as planned and even hold out a little hope:

“The city plants mostly late blooming varieties of tulips,” explains Gwen Auwerda, Tulip Time Festival Executive Director. “We’re hoping these late bloomers live up to their name and last into the festival. But, either way, if those arriving in Holland for the Tulip Time Festival take advantage of all the great events, they will not be disappointed.”

Check this photo out bigger and see more in Alissa’s Spring slideshow.

There’s a garden-full of Tulip Time pics on Michigan in Pictures.

Fogbow: a White Rainbow over Big Red


White Rainbow, photo by stevedontsurf.

Today’s photo shows a fogbow. According to the Fogbow entry from Atmospheric Optics:

Fogbows form in the same way as rainbows. A small fraction of the light entering droplets is internally reflected once and emerges to form a large circle opposite the sun.

But… …beyond that there are major differences. Rainbows are formed by raindrops which are so large that rays passing through them follow well defined ‘geometrical optics’ paths. Fogbows are formed by much smaller cloud and fog droplets which diffract light extensively.

…Fogbows are almost white with faint reds on the outside and blues inside. The colours are so washed out because the bow in each colour is very broad and the colours overlap.

Read on for more, including some photos and get a little more at Wikipedia’s page on fog bows.

Steven shot this at the Holland Harbor Lighthouse aka Big Red and writes that he’s still amazed he was able to stumble upon one of these. Check his photo out big as the sky and in his Holland slideshow.

Misty morning on the Macatawa River

Misty morning

Misty morning, photo by Fellowship of the Rich.

Gorgeous photo from Holland last week from where Lake Macatawa meets the Macatawa River. Wikipedia says that the Macatawa River, also known as the Black River, drains into Lake Macatawa, adding that the name Macatawa is a mis-phoneticization of the Native American “Muck-i-ta-wog-go-me”, which means “black water.”

Check it out on black and in Rich’s massive Holland, Michigan slideshow.

More sunrises on Michigan in Pictures.

It’s Tulip Time Again!

It's Tulip Time Again

It’s Tulip Time Again, photo by Mi Bob.

Holland’s annual Tulip Time celebration kicks off today and runs through May 14. Fireworks! Vintage Base Ball! Tulipalooza! Kinderplaats! Volksparade! Klompen! …and of course more than a million tulips and almost that many visitors!

Check it out bigger and in Bob’s Tulip Time slideshow.

More Tulips on Michigan in Pictures