Project Tim

This space originally contained a photo by Detroit area artist Tim and the last name of “Man, do I not want to promote or support the art of Michigan’s truly insufferable artists.”

He’d rather you don’t see it here and believe me, I am more than happy to oblige.

In What is Project Tim?, Crain’s Detroit Business explains that a mystery company has amassed 850 acres in land options to build a $5 billion industrial facility that could be the largest manufacturing plant in the country:

The massive project is dubbed “Project Tim” in a document the company provided to local government and economic officials, who have vowed to keep the company’s name and industry a closely-held secret while the land is being assembled.

The document says the industrial development is being pursued by a “small group of globally leading companies and experts” who want to build a 24 million-square-foot facility that would be “the greenest facility of its kind anywhere in the world.”

“As of this time we cannot share details on the precise nature of Project Tim,” according to the document, which the city of Durand has been distributing to residents. “… It will be a high-tech industrial development unlike anything that you have probably ever seen before.”

The company’s document describes a massive manufacturing facility unlike anything in Michigan — in terms of size — that promises to create 800 full-time jobs in “Phase 1.”

The document describes a sprawling facility 6,200 feet long and 3,900 feet wide that would top 550 acres in size. (A square mile is 640 acres.) If built, the plant being proposed in Durand would be 50 percent larger than the 16 million-square-foot Ford River Rouge Complex. It also would be bigger than the tiny 499-acre nation of Monaco along France’s Mediterranean coast.

You can see the photo background bigilicious and see more in Scott’s Detroit Industrial Gallery slideshow.

Automotive Old Guard Leading the Race to the Future

Autonomous Fusion Hybrid research vehicle in Dearborn, courtesy Ford Motor Co

While Uber, Tesla & Google are getting most of the ink, WIRED magazine’s article Detroit Is Stomping Silicon Valley in the Self-Driving Car Race says:

IF YOU’RE BETTING on Silicon Valley stars like Google, Tesla, and Uber to free you from your horrorshow commute with autonomous driving technology, don’t. That’s the key takeaway from a new report that finds Ford—yes, the Detroit-based, 113-year-old giant—is winning the race to build the self-driving car, with General Motors running a close second. Renault-Nissan, Daimler, and Volkswagen round out the top five. Meanwhile, Waymo—aka Google’s driverless car effort—sits in sixth place, with Tesla in twelfth. Uber languishes in sixteenth, behind Honda and barely ahead of startup Nutonomy and China’s Baidu.

That may sound all kinds of wrong to anyone who has seen Uber, Waymo, and Tesla flaunt their tech, and regards Detroit’s old guard as ill-prepared for the robotic future. But it’s the state of the race according to Navigant Research, whose newly released “leaderboard” report ranks these players not just on their ability to make a car drive itself, but on their ability to bring that car to the mass market.

Ford and GM both score in the low to mid 80s on the technology front; it’s their old-school skills that float them to first and second place. They’ve each spent more than a century developing, testing, producing, marketing, distributing, and selling cars. Plus, each has made strategic moves to bolster weak points. Ford just dumped a billion dollars into an artificial intelligence outfit. It acquired ride-sharing service Chariot and invested in Velodyne, a company producing lidar, the laser scanning tech many argue is necessary for self-driving cars. GM scooped up self-driving expertise via a startup called Cruise, and partnered with Lyft to put the eventual result on the road.

Lots more in a great article from WIRED!

View the photo of an autonomous Ford Fusion hybrid bigger on Ford’s website.

More cars & autos on Michigan in Pictures.

Detroit’s Immigrant Workers

Immigrant Workers, photo by Ryan Southen

3 out of 4 people in 1910 were immigrants or the children of immigrants. Wow. Ryan shared this photo on Facebook and wrote:

I stumbled upon this stone along the riverfront this afternoon. This region is what it is today because people came here seeking opportunity, or refuge and we are absolutely better for it. Something to ponder the next time you find yourself discussing immigration.

As the descendent of immigrants to the Detroit area, I completely agree. Crain’s Detroit Business has a nice feature by about how foreign-born workers have been an integral part of Detroit’s history, economy. It says in part:

Detroit once was the third-largest U.S. settlement for immigrants, said Kurt Metzger, the retired founder of Data Driven Detroit who spent nearly 40 years compiling information and statistical analysis locally.

“In 1930, the foreign-born accounted for almost 30 percent of Detroit’s population. The data show that more immigrants settled in Detroit between 1900 and 1920 than any other city but Chicago and New York,” Metzger said via email.

“The makeup of Detroit — European (Poles, Germans, Ukrainians, etc.) was heavily influenced by the national quota system that either forbid certain groups (Asians, for instance) or maintained extremely small quotas.”

The second, much broader and more diverse wave of immigration began around 1970 after Washington relaxed the quota system on a wide variety of groups, he said.

“We began to see large flows of Chaldeans from Iraq, Muslims from Lebanon and other areas of the Middle East, Asians from Taiwan, India, the Philippines, Albanians, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans,” he said. “Since that time, we have added, through war and displacement, Hmong, Cambodian and Vietnamese, Chaldeans, Syrians, Yemeni, and many more.

…Foreign-born workers and their families helped swell Detroit’s population to nearly 2 million people at its 1950 peak.

Ryan doesn’t have this pic on his Flickr, but you can see a lot of great shots from Detroit and elsewhere there and by following Ryan Southen Photography on Facebook.

Ephraim Shay, the Shay Locomotive & Shay Days

Mancelona Logging and a Shay Locomotive

Mancelona MI Logging and possible Shay Steam Engine, photo by Don, the Up North Memories Guy

The Harbor Springs Area Historical Society holds their annual Shay Days celebration this Friday & Saturday (July 15-16, 2016). They share that inventor Ephraim Shay was likely retiring when he moved to town in 1888, but during his “retirement” he created over twelve miles of water mains to bring running water to the city, designed and constructed his unique Hexagon House, and started a railway known locally as the Hemlock Central.

They will celebrate his life and work with all kinds of engaging history including live steam model trains with the Michigan Small Scale Live Steamers group, games, historical photograph displays, and self-guided tours at the Shay Hexagon House. Shay himself will even be on hand Saturday so you can wish him a happy 177th birthday – click for all the details.

Shay Locomotives is an online book about the most widely used geared steam locomotives invented in Michigan lumber camps by Ephraim Shay. They share that Shay was born July 17, 1839 in Huron County, Ohio and received a better than average education for the day. After serving in the Union Army in the Civil War, Shay married his lifelong companion, Jane Henderson:

Shortly after their marriage, the Shays moved up to a farm in Ionia County, Michigan. Here Ephraim was known to have served as a clerk in the Township of Sebewa, 1867-1868. In 1869 the Shays were in the Township of Sunfield, Michigan and Ephraim was now operating a steam sawmill until 1873. Their son Lette was born here in January of 1870.

In 1873, with the tract of timber in Sunfield exhausted, the Shay family moved north to the Manistee river basin of Michigan and set up his sawmill and a general store near a lumber camp called Haring, newly settled only the year before.

Logging in the 1870’s was far different than today. Essentially once all the trees along the rivers were harvested and floated down river to a mill, logging operations were done in the winter month as loggers depended on snow cover to more easily move the cut timber on sleds drawn by horse or oxen. This method naturally depended on the weather systems and if there were a mild winter there would be a low yield of lumber from the mills.

…What Ephraim Shay had invented was a locomotive capable of delivering equal torque directly to wheels on both sides of the engine at the same time. This over came the dynamic force of his common rod engine whose normal pistons strokes jerked the engine side to side on each stroke, delivering excessive force to the wood rails, especially on the curves.

Read on for much more about one of the pioneers of modern transportation – includes some great old photos!

View Don’s postcard background big and click for more of his Shay Locomotive photos.

More trains on Michigan in Pictures.

#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!

Failure of Poe Lock at the Soo Locks would be devastating

charles m. beeghly, poe lock, sault ste. marie, michigan

charles m. beeghly, poe lock, sault ste. marie, michigan, photo by twurdemann

via today’s Five Things you need to know about Michigan on Absolute Michigan comes a Detroit Free Press report on  the potentially dire consequences for the US & Michigan if the Soo Locks fail:

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security report indicates a 6-month shutdown of the Poe Lock in Sault Ste. Marie, if one occurred, would plunge the nation into recession, closing factories and mines, halting auto and appliance production in the U.S. for most of a year and result in the loss of some 11 million jobs across the nation.

The report, obtained by the Free Press through the Freedom of Information Act, paints a grim picture of the outcome of any long-term shutdown of the Poe, the only one of the so-called Soo Locks able to handle the 1,000-foot-long vessels that each year move millions of tons of iron ore from mines in Minnesota and northern Michigan to steel mills dotting the lower Great Lakes and beyond.

….But what is also clear from the Homeland Security report is that while a longer-term shutdown would be catastrophic, even a shorter one could have a much wider impact than previously thought: If such a closure occurred at the Poe during the March 25-Jan. 15 shipping season, for instance, as much as 75% of the nation’s steel output could be halted within two to six weeks.

Read on for more, including a video of a ship going into the locks.

View twurdemann’s photo from Engineer’s Day (every June) bigger and see more in his Great Lakes Shipping slideshow.

More Soo Locks on Michigan in Pictures!

New Pharaohs of GR: Steelcase Pyramid May Host SUPERNAP Data Center

Steelcase Pyramid Grand Rapids Data Center

Squished Pyramid, photo by Gary Syrba

Fox 17 reports that a Nevada-based company has chosen the former Steelcase pyramid as the site for a large data center.

Switch will build a $5 billion, 2 million square-foot SUPERNAP data center at the former Steelcase office building.

The deal is contingent on the passage of three bills currently in the Michigan state legislature.

The $5 billion reflects the costs for both the data centers and the computer servers that will be placed inside the buildings over a multi-year period, according to the company.  SUPERNAP Michigan will be the largest data center campus in the eastern U.S. and will serve Switch’s current and new clients.

Switch says that have 1,000 clients, including eBay, Intel, Shutterfly, Amgen, HP, JP Morgan Chase, Google, Amazon, Fox Broadcasting and many more.

Read on for more and get the details on the legislative changes the deal hinges on at the Freep. Here’s some cool drone footage of the Steelcase Pyramid as well. Site Selection Magazine has a writeup on the building with the tale of the tape to one of Michigan’s most iconic structures designed by Grand Rapids architectural firm The WBDC Group:

In addition to its pyramid-shaped design, the Steelcase Corporate Development Center offers several other unique amenities. The central atrium features a five-story rotating pendulum suspended over a reflective water pool. Vaulted ceilings and expansive windows throughout the building, combined with exterior balconies, provide an open and spacious workplace that makes liberal use of natural light.

The building has 333,000 sq. ft. of office space and 242,000 sq. ft. of research and development space.

Other on-site amenities include a 14,995-sq.-ft. full-service cafeteria, 12,500-sq.-ft. data center, 8,351-sq.-ft. two-story photo studio, exercise and locker rooms, card-access security, on-site video surveillance and 1,014 parking spaces.

View Gary’s photo bigger and see more in his In the City (Grand Rapids) slideshow.

More buildings & architecture on Michigan in Pictures.

Marquette Lower Harbor Ore Dock

Marquette Lower Harbor Ore Dock

Lower Harbor Ore Dock, photo by Rudy Malmquist

Travel Marquette shares the story of the Iron Ore Dock in Marquette’s Upper Harbor is also known as the Presque Isle Dock.

The dock was built in 1911 and is still commercially active. Each year approximately 9.5 to 10 million tons of ore are shipped from this dock. The dock is owned and operated by the Cliffs Natural Resources. This steel-framed dock is 1,250 feet long and 60 feet wide, with the top deck sitting 75 feet above the water level. It contains 200 pockets, each of which has a capacity of 250 tons of ore, for a total storage capacity of 50,000 tons. Supporting the dock is a foundation of 10,000 wooden piles enclosed by a 12-inch thick timber sheet plank wall filled with sand.

After being mined the ore is crushed and the iron separated out with either a chemical or magnetic process. The iron is combined with a binding agent (a glorified cornstarch) and rolled into small balls roughly an inch in diameter. The balls are fed through a kiln and fired by temperatures exceeding 2,000 degrees F. The result is Taconite Pellets which are loaded on the ore boats and shipped. Most of the pellets shipped from the Presque Isle dock go to Algoma Steel in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario the largest integrated steel mill. These pellets, which are roughly 70% iron, will be combined with coke and limestone at the mill to make steel.

The ore comes to the dock via railcars and is dumped into steel “pockets” or bins beneath the tracks. To load the boat, the chute is lowered to the open cargo hatch and a door at the bottom of the pocket opens, allowing the pellets to run into the boat shown in the picture. Loading time is variable, depending on the size of the boat and how prepared the dock is to load. Four hours is typical. Loading is the responsibility of the First Mate. It is important to load the ore in a proper sequence to avoid over-stressing the boat unevenly. Each chute (or drop of ore) is about 20 tons.

View Rudy’s photo big as the sky and see more in his slideshow.

More Marquette and more aerial photography on Michigan in Pictures.

Golden Hour on the Rouge River

The Golden Hour on the Rouge

The Golden Hour on the Rouge, photo by pkHyperFocal

The Rouge River Gateway Project relates that the Potawatami referred to the river as Minosa Goink which means “Singeing Skin River” – the place where game animals were dressed. The history continues (with my links to other fun stuff):

The French first settled on the banks of the Rouge River in the 1780s. They named the river “Rouge”, or red. Settlers would claim a few hundred feet of river frontage and extend their farms deep into the forest. Remnants of these “ribbon farms” still exist today in land ownership patterns along the river. Europeans continued to immigrate into the region to take advantage of its resources. They used the reddish clay for brick, mined the area’s salt deposits, and built farming communities along the riverbanks. The native prairie oak savannah and hardwood forests were cleared to make room for agriculture and industry.

Rapid growth and industrial development characterized the late nineteenth century. Henry Ford purchased extensive land holdings along the river. He built a factory in Dearborn to manufacture farm tractors, but kept a good portion of his land in agricultural production, partially for testing equipment. In 1914, he started construction of a permanent residence on the banks of the Rouge River.

A defining moment in the history of the river transpired with the construction of the Ford Rouge Plant during World War I. The development of the plant was motivated by Henry Ford’s desire to supply submarine chasers to the US military. The Ford Rouge Manufacturing Complex grew into a massive self –contained industrial complex that daily employed over ninety thousand men in the early 20th century. Raw materials including coke, iron ore, and rubber were brought in and transformed into cars in less than thirty hours, a process that set a new global standard for industry. The Rouge Manufacturing Complex became the largest manufacturing site in the world.

In his book Burning Rivers, Allen Park native John Hartig relates how heavy manufacturing and population growth seriously impacted the river to the point where the river became one of the most polluted waterways in the nation, catching fire in 1969 shortly after the famous Lake Erie/Cuyahoga River fire.

In 1986, in a Sunday feature on a new organization seeking to restore the Rouge, the Detroit Free Press called it the “sewer for a metropolis, discharge drain for industry, dumping ground for junk and garbage”. They went on to say that “the Rouge River has become so polluted that a cleanup seems unthinkable.”

While the Rouge is certainly far from restored, the organization the Freep was talking about, Friends of the Rouge, has been dedicated along with other public and private efforts to the preservation & restoration of the river. I encourage you to check them out for more information and to learn about their good work on the behalf of the river. Lots more at the Rouge River Project and Wayne County’s Rouge Project.

View pkHyperFocal’s photo big as a boat and see more in their Man Made slideshow.

More industry on Michigan in Pictures.

Land of the Lost: Central Mine

land of the lost

land of the lost, photo by Marty Hogan

The Keweenaw Historical Society page on Central Mine and Village explains:

One of the most noteworthy historical sites in Keweenaw County is Central, or Central Mine, a village that once was the home for over 1,200 people, and the site of one Keweenaw’s most successful mines. The mine, opened in 1854, produced nearly 52 million pounds of copper by the time it closed in 1898.

Several miners’ homes and buildings still stand on the site. In 1996, the Keweenaw County Historical Society acquired 38 acres of the old Central site. Some of the residences are being restored, and a Visitors Center provides interpretive exhibits not only about the mine but also about the miners’ families, homes, schools and churches.

Click through for maps, photos and more information about Central and other sites.

Marty took this photo in Engine House No.2 at the Central Mining Company in Central, Michigan. He says that from 1875-1898, it housed the Steam Hoist for Shaft No.2. Check it out background bigtacular and see more in his Central, Michigan slideshow.

There’s a whole lot more from Marty and his travels to some of Michigan’s coolest places that once were on Michigan in Pictures!