Lilacs are still out on Mackinac Island!

Mackinac Island, photo by Gary Ennis

While lilacs have faded in much of Michigan, they’re still going strong on Mackinac Island as we head into the final weekend of the annual Mackinac Island Lilac Festival. The Northern Express’s writeup on the Lilac Festival says in part:

There are over 100 varieties of lilac on the island, the most recognizable being the common lilac or the French lilac, which ranges in color from white and pink to blue and several shades of purple. Many of the island’s lilacs were planted in the Victorian age, and some have lived for over 150 years, thanks to the island’s nurturing microclimate.

“Mackinac Island has some of the largest specimens of the common lilac in the country,” said Tim Hygh, executive director of Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau. “Also found here, but more rare, are the Himalayan lilac, which are lavender, and the Japanese tree lilac, which are typically white.”

View the photo from the walkway at Fort Mackinac bigger and follow Gary on Facebook for more!

More lilacs and more Mackinac Island on Michigan in Pictures!

March 3, 1875: Mackinac National Park & Fort Mackinac

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Old Fort [Mackinac] from pasture field, Macinac [sic] Island, Mich., courtesy Library of Congress

“Mackinac is a place largely visited by people from all parts of our country, and I take it from many foreign lands. A National Park is established on the island and I think the military post should be made not only comfortable but attractive.”
-Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs

It’s a birthday of sorts for Mackinac State Historic Parks which is a treasure trove of our colonial history. The page from Mackinac Parks on Fort Mackinac and the Mackinac National Park explains the birth of the park and how one forward thinking officer may very well have created the model for historical preservation in the park that holds so much of Michigan and the nation’s cultural history:

After Congress created Yellowstone in 1872, Senator Thomas Ferry introduced legislation to create a second park on Mackinac Island. In addition to the island’s attractive history and natural features, the U.S. government already owned much of the island as part of the Fort Mackinac military reservation and the soldiers stationed at Fort Mackinac could act as caretakers. As a result, the park would cost almost nothing, which Ferry knew appealed to the tight-fisted Congressmen of the 1870s. After two years of campaigning, President Ulysses Grant created the Mackinac National Park, the second park in the country, on March 3, 1875.

The park made Mackinac Island even more attractive to Midwestern visitors, and brought changes to Fort Mackinac, where the commanding officer became the park superintendent and a second company of soldiers joined the garrison. The Army finally performed some long-overdue repairs at the fort … Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs believed that “the fort itself is to the public one of the greatest curiosities within the lands of the park,” and required the fort’s commanding officer, Major Alfred Hough, to repair the post’s aging blockhouses. Although the blockhouses served no military purpose, Meigs knew that they were “among the few relics of the older time which exist in this country,” and believed that “there would be a cry from tourists” if they were destroyed. Fort Mackinac thus became as much a part of the national park as the island’s natural curiosities.

…On September 16, 1895, the last soldiers formally transferred Fort Mackinac and the Mackinac National Park to the state. Although the national park ceased to exist with this transfer, the state immediately created the Mackinac Island State Park, which continues to welcome thousands of Mackinac Island visitors every year.

You can view the photo taken somewhere between between 1880 and 1899 bigger and see more great old Mackinac Island photos in this Mackinac Island slideshow from the Library of Congress.

Lots more from Mackinac on Michigan in Pictures!

Don’t Skip the Fresh Coast Film Festival!

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Skipping Stones, Lake Superior Presque Isle Park, photo by John McCormick

As I shared a couple of weeks ago, the first-ever Fresh Coast Film Festival takes place next week (October 13-16) in Marquette. It’s a documentary film festival celebrating the outdoor lifestyle, water-rich environment and resilient spirit of the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest. In my article about the festival on Absolute Michigan I made a list of some of the films that were most exciting to me, including the one in the trailer below, Skips Stones for Fudge. It’s the story of competitive stone skippers Russ “Rock Bottom” Byars and Kurt “Mountain Man” Steiner that features the championships at Mackinac Island.

The film is just one of a diverse offering, and the festival will also make the outdoors a part the fun with guided outdoor activities to introduce visitors to the outdoor playground of the Marquette area. Rock climbing, fly fishing, sea kayaking, waterfall hikes and mountain bike rides will be offered as well!

View John’s photo from Presque Isle park in Marquette bigger, see more in his My Favorites slideshow, and definitely follow Michigan Nut Photography on Facebook!

Round Island Run

Ferry & lighthouse

Round Island, MI, photo by Bill Johnson

Bill took this photo 21 years ago on September 21, 1995! It shows the Star Line Ferry’s Nicolet speeding past the Round Island Lighthouse. Star Line explains:

Star Line Ferry was started by Tom Pfeiffelmann, Sam McIntire, and others in the late 1970s. They purchased Argosy Boat Line. The company was then renamed Star Line after the 5 original stockholders making up a 5 pointed star. At that time they operated slower ferries including the Nicolet, Treasure Islander and Flamingo.

In 1979 Star Line bought their first fast ferry, Marquette. Over the next few years the old LaSalle and Nicolet were replaced with sisters to the Marquette. In 1987 Star Line decided to take it up a notch with Radisson, an 85-foot fast ferry which was modeled after a luxury yacht.

View Bob’s photo background big and see more in his Lighthouses slideshow.

PS: Check out this cool yesterday and today at Round Island Lighthouse on Michigan in Pictures!

2016 Chicago to Mackinac Sailing Race

Chicago to Mac Sailboats & Mackinac Bridge

Sailboats and Mackinac, photo by Alex Duncan

On July 23, 2016, over 350 sailboats will leave the Chicago Yacht club for the longest annual freshwater race in the world. 2016 marks the 108th annual Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac aka the Chicago to Mac. On their Race History page the CYC shares that:

Starting in 1898 with a mere five boats, The Mac has evolved into a world-class sporting event. After the first race in 1898, the Race to Mackinac was not held for five years until the second race in 1904. By 1906, the race had developed a healthy following and, in that year, the original Mackinac trophy was purchased. The race has seen occasional sustained violent weather in the blows of 1911, 1937 and 1970. After gale force winds took down most of the fleet in the Mac of 1911, the finish in the 1912 and 1913 races was changed to Harbor Springs on Little Traverse Bay instead of Mackinac Island. Race organizers felt the shorter distance was safer.

From 1914 until 1916 the Mac was back to its full distance until WWI. From 1917-1920 there were no Mac races due to the strains of the War, which took away yachtsmen and put many boats out of commission. Since 1921, the Race to Mackinac has run consecutively every year, remains the longest annual freshwater distance race, and is recognized as one of the most prestigious sailing races in the world.

Read on for lots more including an account of the first race. If you’re wondering when to catch a glimpse of them, Pyewacket set the monohull record in 2002 with a time of 23 hours, 30 minutes and 34 seconds. The race starts at noon on Saturday and usually takes between 40-60 hours to finish.

View Alex’s photo from 2011 background bigtacular and see more in his Pure Michigan slideshow.

More summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!

Michigan Front Porch is the World’s Longest!

Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel in the Early 2016 Season, photo by Corey Seeman

The Grand Hotel opened on Mackinac Island in the summer of 1887. At 660 feet, Grand Hotel’s Front Porch is the world’s largest. They note that early on the porch became the principal meeting place for all of Mackinac Island, a promenade for the elderly, and a “Flirtation Walk” for island romantics. Their History photo gallery has a couple of cool photos of the porch from back in the day.

Corey took this last weekend when the Hotel opened for the season. View it background bigtacular and click for tons more of his Mackinac Island photos.

More about the Grand Hotel on Michigan in Pictures, and here’s a video look at the porch:

 

Line 5 and the Great Lakes

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Mackinaw City and Mackinac Bridge, photo by Sandy Hansen Photography 

“There is a pipeline that‘s sitting at the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. It was designed for a 50 year life and it’s been down there for 63 years. There’s a risk involved in this.”
-Mark Shriberg, National Wildlife Federation

In Line 5 puts Great Lakes at risk on Absolute Michigan via the University of Michigan (video below):

Up to 152 miles (245 km) of coastline in lakes Huron and Michigan could be fouled by a single oil spill at the straits, according to the simulations. When all 840 simulated spills are plotted on a map, a total of 720 miles (1,162 km) of shoreline in the U.S. and Canada are considered potentially vulnerable to spills that would require cleanup. Seven hundred twenty miles is roughly the distance from Detroit to Atlanta.

Areas at highest risk include Mackinac and Bois Blanc islands, as well as locations directly east and west of Mackinaw City. Communities also at risk include Beaver Island, Cross Village, Harbor Springs, Cheboygan and other places along the lakes Huron-Michigan shoreline.

…”Until now, no one knew exactly how much shoreline was vulnerable to spills in the Straits of Mackinac,” said Schwab, a research scientist at the U-M Water Center. “These findings show that under the right conditions, a spill in the Straits of Mackinac could affect a significant amount of shoreline and open-water areas in either Lake Michigan or Lake Huron, or both, very quickly.”

View Sandy’s photo bigger, see more in her aerial slideshow, and follow her on at Sandy Hansen Photography on Facebook.