July 16, 1812: The Attack on Fort Mackinac

Fort Mackinac (circa 1897-1924) by Detroit Publishing Co

The Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University remembers that on July 16, 1812, British forces moved on Fort Mackinac:

British General Brock of the Michigan Command ordered Captain Roberts, on St. Joseph Island, to attack the American Fort on Mackinac Island. That morning Captain Roberts embarked for Michilimackinac on the Northwestern Fur Company’s ship, Caledonia, with two six-pound guns, ten batteaux (flat-bottom boats), and seventy canoes. Captain Roberts’ force was composed of 42 regulars and 4 officers, 260 Canadians, 572 Chippewas and Ottawas, 56 Sioux, 48 Winnebagoes, and 39 Menomonies. The British arrived at Mackinac Island at 3:00 a.m. on July 17.

Fort Mackinaw’s American commander, Lieutenant Hanks, immediately prepared for action. However, around 9:00 in the morning he discovered that the British were in possession of the higher ground above the fort and that British artillery was already directed at the Americans’ most defenseless position. At 11:30 in the morning, the British sent in a flag of truce and the fifty-seven United States officers and enlisted men at the Fort surrendered.

After this victory, the British constructed Fort George (now known as Fort Holmes) about a half-mile behind the main Fort in order to protect it during future invasions. Great Britain retained control of Fort Mackinaw until the United States won it back in the Treaty of Ghent in 1815.

This photo of Fort Mackinac was taken sometime between 1895-1924. Learn more about Fort Mackinac at Mackinac State Historic Parks.

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Turnip Rock in Clear Water

Turnip Rock in clear water by DjOOF

Turnip Rock in clear water by DjOOF

The excellent sunrise side blog Thumbwind explains that Turnip Rock in Lake Huron can only be reached by kayak or canoe & share some tips for would-be explorers:

Paddling to Turnip Rock is not hard. Located at the tip of the thumb, it’s about a four hour round trip from Port Austin. This small guide offers a local point of view to avoid problems with the local law enforcement and property owners while being able to enjoy a unique natural wonder.

Despite its uniqueness, this natural wonder is located in the Pointe Aux Barques Cottage Community and is private land. Thus the only way to access it is from the water. Fortunately, that can easily be achieved by canoe or kayak. This means that you can’t go feet dry. Stay in the water. The area around the rock is monitored and even the topic of an Instagram account. If you must get out of our kayak stay as close to the water’s edge as possible. (Unless its an emergency)

During the weekends the number of paddlers can get quite large. If the area around the rock is crowded consider paddling a few hundred yards past the rock and view the overhangs and cave features that border the Pointe Aux Barques community. During the late 1800s, the cave were hideouts for fugitives. It’s worth taking a few minutes to explore. You may be tempted to get out of your kayak and climb the rocks for a view. This is a no-no and there are several signs reminding not to trespass.

Read on for lots more, and if you happen to take any pictures, consider sharing them in our Michigan in Pictures Group on Facebook!

DjOOF writes that they made it past Turnip rock and captured this view on the way back. See more in their Google Nest Pics album on Flickr. Also check out their shot of one of the smuggler’s caves referred to above!

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Hot Times in the Great Lakes

Faith by Cameron

Faith by Cameron

mLive reports that hot weather & light winds are driving Great Lakes surface water temperatures off the charts:

Lake Michigan’s average surface water temperature has gone nearly vertical … in the past week or so. Lake Michigan now averages 74 degrees on the surface, which is 11 degrees warmer than the historical average water temperature on this date.

Lake Huron is eight degrees warmer than average at 69 degrees.

Lake Erie now is only four degrees from averaging 80 degrees. The average water temperature now is 76 degrees, with the long-term average water temperature at 70 for this date.

Lake Superior might still sound cold with an average surface water temperature of 54 degrees. The long-term historical average water temperature is 48 degrees.

Click through to see the graphs – it’s pretty incredible how warm they are right now!

I featured Cameron’s photo from Grand Traverse Bay in July of 2015, but it’s just so perfect I had to show it again. Stay cool & check out lots more pics in Cameron’s Elk Rapids, MI album on Flickr.

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Line 5 Pipeline Shut Down … for How Long?

Straits of Mackinac by Mark Swanson

Straits of Mackinac by Mark Swanson

EDITOR’S NOTE: I believe that the Line 5 pipeline is a ridiculous threat to Michigan’s economy & environment, am quite pleased with it being shut down, and strongly hope that it is shut down for good. Sorry if that makes you sad or upsets you. 😉

Ed White of the Associated Press writes that a judge shut down Enbridge’s controversial Line 5 energy pipeline that travels under the Straits of Mackinac on Thursday after Enbridge reported problems with a support piece far below the surface:

Enbridge Inc. has not provided enough information to Michigan officials to show that continued operation of the west leg of the Line 5 twin pipeline is safe, Ingham County Judge James Jamo said.

Without the temporary order, “the risk of harm to the Great Lakes and various communities and businesses that rely on the Great Lakes would be not only substantial but also in some respects irreparable,” the judge said.

…Enbridge’s Line 5 carries oil and natural gas liquids from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario. A four-mile (6.4-kilometer) segment divides into two pipes that lie on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac, which connect Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

Enbridge last week said an anchor support on the east leg of the pipeline had shifted. The company said Line 5 itself was not ruptured and that no oil spilled into the water, but it still hasn’t explained how the incident occurred.

The east leg was shut down. But Enbridge said it resumed the flow through the west line Saturday after consulting with federal regulators at the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

The judge said he’ll hold a hearing Tuesday on the state’s request for a preliminary injunction that, if granted, could keep Line 5 closed indefinitely.

“With the continued operation of this pipeline, the risk of severe and lasting environmental damage to Michigan’s most important natural resource continues to grow every day,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said.

Read on for lots more. Nessel is not kidding about the potential damage to Michigan’s water from the company that devastated the Kalamazoo River back in 2010 with the largest oil spill in Michigan history. A University of Michigan researcher modeled Line 5 spill scenarios and found that more than 700 miles of shoreline in Lakes Michigan and Huron and on their islands are potentially vulnerable to an oil release in the Straits.

You can also dig into Enbridge’s take on their pipeline that carries Canadian oil through Michigan mainly to Sarnia, Ontario & the case against the LIne 5 at For Love of Water.

Mark took this photo three years ago of the Mighty Mac looking north from the Lower Peninsula across the Straits. See lots more in his Mackinac, Michigan album on Flickr.

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American White Pelicans Expanding Michigan Range

American White Pelicans on Lake Huron by kare hav

American White Pelicans on Lake Huron by kare hav

The photographer writes that it’s hard to believe that there’s pelicans in Michigan, but here they are. In an in-depth Great Lakes Echo feature, Eric Freedman writes that American White Pelicans are expanding their breeding range in Michigan & North America:

The species “is undergoing a dramatic expansion of its breeding range in North America,” the study published in the journal Ontario Birds said. “The nesting on Lake Erie, so far from the colony sites in Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, seems unusual. Why such a large dispersal from the nearest breeding colony 550 km (340 miles) away?”

Now they’re spreading eastward.

…That distance “is and is not unusual,” said study co-author D.V. Chip Weseloh, a retired Great Lakes waterbird specialist with the Canadian Wildlife Service. “Pelicans are strange birds and will range far and wide hundreds of miles to feed,” a feat documented with radio transmitters.

With its 9-foot wingspan, the American white pelican is one of North America’s largest birds and feeds primarily on fish, according to the Audubon Society.

The overall population declined through the first half of the 1900s but has grown substantially since the 1970s. It’s protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List categorizes it as a species of least concern.

Lots more in the Echo!

View more in Kare Hav’s Pt. Lookout/Augres gallery on Flickr.

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Facing uncertainty, Michigan begins to re-open

Mackinac Bridge by Daniel L

Mackinac Bridge by Daniel L

Yesterday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an Executive Order allowing for the reopening of retail, business & office work that can’t be done remotely, and restaurants and bars with limited seating for northwest Lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

The two regions are both in the northern part of the state—specifically, MERC regions 6 and 8, as detailed in the governor’s MI Safe Start Plan to re-engage Michigan’s economy. The partial reopening will take effect on Friday, May 22. Cities, villages, and townships may choose to take a more cautious course if they wish: the order does not abridge their authority to restrict the operations of restaurants or bars, including limiting such establishments to outdoor seating.

…“The data shows that these regions in Michigan are seeing consistent encouraging trends when it comes to the number of cases, deaths, and the percent of tests that are positive for COVID-19,” said MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “It’s important to note that these businesses must take special precautions to protect Michiganders. I also encourage everyone to continue to wear a mask in public, maintain a 6 foot distance from others, and to remain vigilant in washing their hands often. This will help prevent a second surge in cases in our state.”

All businesses that will reopen in regions 6 and 8 must adopt the safety measures outlined in Executive Order 2020-91. That means they must, among other things, provide COVID-19 training to workers that covers, at a minimum, workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of PPE, steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and how to report unsafe working conditions. Restaurants and bars will also have to limit capacity to 50% of their normal seating, to keep groups at least six feet from one another, to require their servers to wear face coverings, and to follow rigorous disinfection protocols.

Read more at Michigan.gov and please stay safe AND keep others safe by wearing a mask. In addition to it being the law, you wearing a mask reduces the chance of infecting someone else by almost 70%!

Lots more in Daniel’s massive Michigan photo gallery on Flickr.

TONS more about the Mighty Mackinac Bridge on Michigan in Pictures.

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Great Lakes on the Rise in 2020

Precarious by Mark Swanson

Precarious by Mark Swanson

mLive reports that the six-month water level forecasts show a high-end forecast that could surpass all other modern water levels for some of the Great Lakes:

For the last three months, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron (which shares the same lake water level because they are linked) have set monthly record water levels. The monthly record water levels are expected to continue into summer. If we get significantly higher than usual precipitation, the water levels could slosh over the highest level ever recorded since good water level measurements began back in 1918.

…The upper end of the possible outcomes would take Lake Michigan and Lake Huron 5 inches higher than October 1986, the highest water level recorded since records began in 1918. July or August of this coming summer would be the months that could happen.

That would be a devastating high-water level for cities and beaches along the Lake Michigan and Lake Huron shoreline.

Remember one inch of water on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron is 800 billion gallons of water. If this summer’s water level reaches that upper end, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron would have 4 trillion gallons more water than the highest water level recorded by in the fall of 1986.

Read on for more about Lakes Superior (probably not dangerously high) and Erie & Ontario (also likely to be dangerously high).

Mark took this in February near Stevensville on Lake Michigan. See more in his Final 60 album.

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Blue Ice at Bay City

Bay City Blue Ice, photo by Great Lakes Drone Works

Great Lakes Drone Works captured some awesome shots from the ice on Saginaw Bay near Bay City. They write:

We made our way out to Bay City State Park to capture some images of these huge chunks of ice. At first we were hoping drone photos would be the way to go but after walking around and getting up close, it was clear that ground photography was the better option.
Blue ice occurs when weather conditions — such as a lack of high winds — allow water to freeze slowly and evenly, resulting in ice composed of large crystals (unlike snow, which is formed quickly and made up of small crystals).

When light hits these big ice crystals, it can travel deep into the structures (compare this to snow, wherein light hits a sharp edge and reflects off of it right away, resulting in blinding white). When the light travels deeper into slowly formed ice, some of the red wavelengths of sunlight — which is the longest wavelength of visible light — get absorbed into the ice structure.

The blue, which is the shortest wavelength of visible light, bounces back out, meet our eyes, and results in a deep aqua color.

Head over to their Facebook for more shots and get lots more icy goodness at the ice tag on Michigan in Pictures!

Pipeline deal reached … but what has changed?

Leaving the Pipeline

Leaving the Island, photo by Robert F. Carter

EDITOR’S NOTE: I agree with the position of Sean McBrearty of Clean Water Action – this “plan” to fix a multi-billion dollar threat to the economic engine of the Great Lakes within seven to ten YEARS is wildly unacceptable. We don’t need the pittance we receive from this pipeline in exchange for the unimaginable risk to the lives & livelihoods of all of us in the Great Lakes State.

In Michigan, company reach oil pipeline deal by Associated Press writer John Flesher writes (in part):

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration and Canadian pipeline giant Enbridge have agreed to replace twin 65-year-old crude oil pipes in a channel linking two of the Great Lakes with another that would run through a tunnel far below the lake bed, officials told The Associated Press.

The plan calls for drilling an opening for the new pipeline through bedrock at depths that could exceed 100 feet (30 meters) beneath the Straits of Mackinac, a more than 4-mile-wide (6.4-kilometer) waterway where Lakes Huron and Michigan converge, officials told the AP prior to an announcement scheduled for Wednesday. The massive engineering project is expected to take seven to 10 years to complete (my emphasis), at a cost of $350 million to $500 million — all of which the company would pay.

In the meantime, about 23 million gallons (87 million liters) of oil and natural gas liquids used to make propane would continue moving daily through the twin lines at the bottom of the straits. They are part of Enbridge’s Line 5, which extends 645 miles (1,038 kilometers) from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario, crossing large areas of northern Michigan.

…Environmental groups promised a fight as rumors of the agreement spread in recent days. They contend the only safe course is to reroute Enbridge’s oil away from the straits.

“Michigan gets nothing in this deal except a continued unacceptable risk to our water, while Enbridge continues to rake in massive profits and use our state as a shortcut for Canadian oil,” Sean McBrearty of Clean Water Action said during a Lansing rally this week.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the next administration would have legal authority to undo the agreement. Michigan owns the straits bottomlands and granted Enbridge an easement when the pipes were laid in 1953. Creagh said any effort to revoke it would trigger a lengthy and expensive court battle.

Read on for more and follow John Flesher on Twitter @johnflesher.

View Robert’s photo bigger and see more in his My Neighborhood album.

 

Breaking up the band

Ice at the Mackinac Bridge, photo by Kent Babb

Winter’s grip on Michigan is slipping early all over including at the Straits of Mackinac.

View Kent’s photo background bigilicious and see more in his photostream on Flickr.

Lots more from the Mackinac Bridge on Michigan in Pictures!