The entry for Ludington North Breakwater Light at Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light details a ton of the history of this lighthouse including the reason for its interesting appearance:
Over the summer of 1924, a unique structure took shape at the end of the North Breakwater. The main tower, fabricated of steel plates over an internal steel skeleton, took the form of a four-sided pyramidal tower with four round porthole windows on each of the three decks within. With plans calling for the installation of an air diaphragm fog signal operated by an electrically powered compressor, there was no need for a large fog signal building, and thus the signal building took the form of a relatively small structure integrated into the base of the landward side of the main tower. In order to help protect the structure from the force of waves crashing across the breakwater, the concrete foundation at the base of the structure was formed with angled surfaces designed to deflect the force of wave action up and away from the building.
The white painted tower was capped by a square gallery and an octagonal iron lantern installed at its center. Since the standard lantern design being used by the Lighthouse Service in new construction at this time was of circular conformation with diagonal astragals, it is likely (but unconfirmed) that the lantern used on this new light was transferred from the South Pierhead beacon which the new light was designed to replace.
Click through for more including a number of old photos.
Visit Ludington’s page on Ludington State Park’s trails says:
The Skyline Trail runs along a tall sand dune ridge, on the south side of the river between the footbridge and Hamlin Dam. The trail begins at the west end of the parking lot and exits onto the Sable River Trail. This trail is completely elevated, made even higher by an extensive wooden boardwalk system. Several vistas let you look out over miles of sand dunes and Lake Michigan. On a clear day, you can see 20 miles to the Silver Lake State Park Sand Dunes. On the back side is an area where you can leave the boardwalk and run up and down the steep slope of this sand dune.
The caption reads “Carferries 15, 17, 18 and 19 – Fast in ice at Ludington, Mich March 22, 1913” and from that, I was able to dig up some tasty history! Carferries.com has great information on the Pere Marquette fleet of ferries that was based in Ludington. They say (in part):
At various times between 1897 and 1947, the Pere Marquette operated a total of 13 ferries on Lake Michigan, running between Ludington, Mich. and Milwaukee, Manitowoc and Kewaunee, Wis. These ships were then an efficient means of bypassing the congested rail yards in Chicago. They plied routes varying between 60 and 97 miles in length, and were often plagued by violent storms and heavy ice. Given the fact that most of the cross-lake runs were made at speeds of 12 to 14 miles per hour, a remarkable volume of freight was carried.
In those fifty years the Pere Marquette car ferries made well over 160,000 lake crossings and transported roughly 4.5 million railroad cars loaded with over 75 million tons of freight. Even these numbers are somewhat conservative, as early records no longer exist. They also carried approximately 1.6 million passengers and after the mid-1920’s, about 380,000 automobiles. Additionally, over the course of its history, the railroad operated a total of 4 river car ferries. These ran between Port Huron, Mich. and Sarnia, Ont., and between Detroit, Mich. and Windsor, Ont., connecting the PM’s Michigan and Canadian lines.
- Pere Marquette 15 – launched in December of 1896 as the original Pere Marquette. She reportedly burned 30 tons of coal on an 1897 round trip from Ludington to Milwaukee. In 1924, the vessel was renamed Pere Marquette 15, and scrapped in Manitowoc in 1935.
- Pere Marquette 17 – launched in 1901, hauled 2 “Jack Johnson” battleship guns in 1915, sold to the State of Michigan to be the car ferry “City of Petoskey” <-great info and photos there!
- Pere Marquette 18 – here’s where the history gets a little murky, as the ship that was launched in 1902 sank in 1910 off Sheboygan, Wisconsin,
so either the date is wrong on the photo above or that’s another ship! UPDATE: Karl informed me that the original 18 did sink in 1910, a new one was put into service in 1911 and sailed until 1954!
- Pere Marquette 19 launched in 1903, ran aground numerous times before being sold for scrap in 1940. She was reduced to a barge profile and renamed the Hilda.
If you’re wondering “What happened to Pere Marquette 16?” that link has great info on the 16, only wooden car ferry in their fleet!
If you live along the Great Lakes, chances are you’ve seen a waterspout from time to time. While waterspouts are typically formed when cold air moves over warm water in late summer or early fall, occasionally the reverse can happen.
Debbie Maglothin took several photos of cold air waterspouts over Lake Michigan off the Ludington State Park beach. WZZM 13 meteorologist Alana Nehring explains how they form:
A drastic temperature difference between the air an water is required. In the most recent event, water temperatures were near 32 degrees while air temperatures were closer to 10 degrees.
A steady breeze needs to be present to jump-start the process of evaporation.
In most cases, this is also how lake-effect snow is produced but in some unique situations, a slight twisting motion will occur in the steam above the water. If it is maintained long enough, eventually weak funnels will develop.
Click the pics to view them bigger and follow Debbie on Facebook at Cha Bella Photography.
More Michigan weather on Michigan in Pictures.
10 years ago today, I posted “A Pond in Bald Mountain” as the very first photo on Michigan in Pictures. 3000+ posts later, I’m still at it. RJE has been sharing photos with me for almost all of those 10 years – thanks to him and everyone else who helps make Michigan in Pictures something that is fun and exciting for me and to all of you for staying with me for so long!
Traverse City based AP Environmental Writer John Flesher is (for my money) one of the best reporting on Great Lakes issues. His latest piece Effort to keep Asian carp from Great Lakes appears stymied begins:
When scientists discovered six years ago that aggressive Asian carp had made their way up the Mississippi River’s tributaries toward the Chicago area, the Obama administration and alarmed state officials pledged swift action to head off an invasion they feared could devastate fishing and boating on the vital Great Lakes.
Since then, federal agencies have spent more than $300 million on stopgap measures, including placing electric barriers on one likely route, a shipping canal that leads to Lake Michigan. But as the carp get closer_some are within 80 miles of the lake— the quest for a surefire deterrent seems to be coming up empty.
An advisory panel that has debated solutions for several years is scheduled to hold what may be its final meeting Thursday, with no sign of a consensus plan, several members said in interviews.
Even if talks continue, chances are growing that the carp will arrive before anything conclusive is done to stop them. At their recent pace, the first young carp could reach Lake Michigan within two years, although a number of obstacles could slow them considerably.
“It’s one of the things that keep me up at night,” said U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat whose state borders four of the five Great Lakes. “Asian carp could devastate our Great Lakes and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that depend on them.”
…Environmental groups and the region’s fishing and boating industries, which generate $23 billion annually on the lakes, are most worried about two varieties of Asian carp: bighead and silver, which weigh dozens of pounds and gorge on the same tiny plant and animal life that feeds the lakes’ other fish. Scientists are still measuring their impact in rivers, but under worst-case scenarios, the large carp could leave popular sport fish to go hungry and suffer population drop-offs. Asian carp are edible but bony, and most Great Lakes fish connoisseurs regard them as a poor substitute for the walleye and whitefish.
Additionally, silver carp are notorious for springing from the water when startled, sometimes ramming boaters with bone-cracking force — a hazard that some fear could damage the Great Lakes’ tourism industry.
Read on for much more, and be sure to follow John on Twitter for more of the story. And please, make it clear to every elected official you interact with how important the health of the Great Lakes is to Michigan!
More about the threat of Asian carp on Michigan in Pictures.