View from the Smithy at Greenfield Village

Americana N°2, photo by Remus Roman

As we’re gearing up for summer, it’s a great time to think about Michigan’s many incredible museums. One of the coolest is Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford in Dearborn. They explain that the origins of Greenfield Village were with Henry Ford himself. His obsession to recreate his childhood home was a resounding success and:

…after several other restorations of buildings at their original sites, he began looking to create a village that would represent the early days of America up to the present. Working with Ford Motor Company draftsman and architect Edward L. Cutler, Ford began laying out plans for Greenfield Village.

It wasn’t meant to represent any specific place in the United States, or even serve as a particular town – Ford created Greenfield Village primarily from buildings that he had purchased and moved to the site, organizing them around a village green with a courthouse, a town hall, a church, a store, an inn and a school. He placed homes along a road beyond the green. He brought industrial buildings, such as carding mills, sawmills and gristmills to the village and made them operate.

Today, Greenfield Village is organized into seven historic districts, with real working farms, a glassblowing shop, a pottery shop and more…so that, just like Henry Ford when he surveyed his preserved birthplace, you, too, can be transported to another place and time to learn about the ordinary and extraordinary people who shaped America.

Click through for a whole lot more.

View this photo of the Smithy at Greenfield Village background bigilicious, see more in Remy’s slideshow, and also at remyroman.com.

Lots more history & museums on Michigan in Pictures.

USS Edson at the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum

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USS Edson frozen in the Saginaw river, photo by Tom Clark

The USS Edson is located at the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum in Bay City. The say (in part):

The keel for the Forrest Sherman class destroyer USS EDSON (DD-946) was laid at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, on 3 December 1956. EDSON is one of the relatively few ships of the U.S. Navy named for a United States Marine, in this case Major General Merritt Austin Edson.

Edson was launched on 4 January 1958 by General Edson’s widow, Ethel Robbins Edson, who broke the traditional bottle of champagne over the ship’s bow. EDSON’S final fitting out and sea trials occupied the next ten months, and on 7 November 1958, EDSON was commissioned under the command of CDR Thomas J. Moriarty, USN. She then sailed in early 1959 to the Caribbean and through the Panama Canal to reach her original homeport of Long Beach, California, on 2 March 1959.

For the next two decades, EDSON served as a valuable member of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, earning a reputation as a Top Gun ship and the nickname, “The Destroyer.” Her ship’s crest included a skull copied from the shoulder patch worn by then Colonel Edson’s First Marine Raider Battalion.

Note that the Museum itself is closed for the winter until March!

View Tom’s photo bigger and see more in his Ships & Boats slideshow.

More ships & boats on Michigan in Pictures!

 

Agate Beach in Grand Marais … and Lake Superior Agates

Agate Beach Treasures Neil Weaver Photography

Agate Beach Treasures, photo by Neil Weaver Photography

Karen “Agatelady” Bryzs of the Gitchee Gumee Museum in Grand Marais shares a ton of information about Lake Superior Agates, part of a worldwide family of semi-precious gemstones that naturally develop when an empty pocket inside a host rock fills in with microcrystals, forming a totally unique pattern:

Most Lake Superior agates formed in a rift zone approximately 1.2 billion years ago. Rift zones are cracks in the Earth’s surface out of which molten lava flowed. Today, there are still rift zones at the bottom of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The rift zone that created Lake Superior agates started in what is now northeast Kansas and continued northeast into what is now the western end of Lake Superior. This hot spot domed up lava several miles high and eventually choked itself off. If it would have continued, it could have split the North American continent in half.

She offers some tips from her book “Understanding and Finding Agates“:

  • Scan the beach and look for the Iron oxide red color.
  • Look for rocks that show evident concentric banding.
  • Check for possible entrance and/or escape channels that allowed gases or originally escape from the cavity, silica-rich water to enter, and pressure formed during the agate precipitation process to escape.
  • Search for rocks with conchoidal fractures that give the specimen a more angular, irregular shape.
  • When the angle of sun is low on the horizon, walk toward the sun and look a distance in front of you to look for the extremely translucent red carnelian agates.

Read on for lots more and definitely stop in the Gitchee Gumee Museum if you make it to Grand Marais! (done it, loved it!)

View Neil’s photo of agates near Grand Marais bigger, see more in his slideshow, and view and purchase his photos at neilweaverphotography.com.

Heavenly curtain at the Phoenix Church

A special Sunday “I changed the cover of the Michigan in Pictures Facebook” edition of Michigan in Pictures.

God is Light

God is light, photo by Jiqing Fan

The Keweenaw County Historical Society page about their Phoenix Church in Houghton explains:

St. Mary’s Church was built in 1858 to serve the Catholic residents in the nearby mining community of Cliff, scene of the area’s first major copper discovery in 1844. Services continued until 1899 when the church was dismantled and reassembled in Phoenix, where it was renamed The Church of the Assumption. Masses were held until 1957, when the last service marked a century of providing spiritual guidance to mining families and their descendants.

In 1985 the Keweenaw County Historical Society took over the property and began extensive repair and restoration work. The church now appears much as it did when folks from another century knelt in prayer, a fitting memorial to one chapter of Keweenaw’s proud heritage. Although now deconsecrated, the church is still used for weddings and memorial services.

More on Pheonix Church from the Keweenaw County Historical Society.

View his photo bigger on Flickr and see more in his Houghton & UP Mich slideshow.

More northern lights and more churches on Michigan in Pictures.

Salute to Michigan’s Workers on Labor Day

Detroit Industry Mural Diego Rivera

Detroit Industry, photo by Maia C

A very happy Labor Day to everyone and also a salute the generations of hard-working Michiganders whose struggles helped to build the society we have today.

View Maia’s photo background big and see more in her Rivera Court, Detroit Institute of Arts slideshow.

More Labor Day and more about the Diego Rivera murals at the Detroit Institute of Art on Michigan in Pictures.

“A” Shaft at Cliff Shaft Mine Museum

A Shaft at Cliff Shaft Mine Museum, Ishpeming, Mi

“A” Shaft at Cliff Shaft Mine Museum, Ishpeming, Mi., photo by Thom Skelding

The Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum page at Pure Michigan says that the Ishpeming museum is open June – September Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm:

Walk back in history to see local historical artifacts representing the local community during the great mining era. View historical displays of miners and mines past and present, headgear & other safety equipment available to miners of yesteryear, and displays on blasting and diamond drilling equipment. Stop in the Ishpeming Rock and Mineral Club’s room and view over 500 minerals from the local area, the Upper Peninsula, Midwest and the world.

Take a guided tour of the tunnels that the miners walked to the base of the C-Shaft and listen to the history of mining from those who worked the mines. Follow up the stairs past old underground iron ore cars with a stop at the blacksmith shop. Go outside to view towers 97’ to 174’ high which were used to lower miners 1250’ into the bowels of the earth. Stand beside a 170-ton Iron Ore Truck with tires 12 feet high.

Don’t forget your camera so you can have a memento of your visit standing inside the 30 ton shovel bucket in front of the Dry building or in front of the 170-ton Iron Ore truck. End your tour in the gift shop to pick up memorabilia of your visit. The museum open with a nominal admission.

Sounds pretty cool to me! Follow the museum on Facebook for the latest (and some old photos).

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

Lots more Michigan museums and more mining on Michigan in Pictures.

Today in Spoiler Alerts: July 3, 1776

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Untitled, photo by Marvin Graves

I hope everyone has a great Independence Day weekend … though I suspect the Redcoats won’t.

View Marvin’s photo bigger and see more in his really great Fort Michilimackinac 2009 slideshow.

PS: If you ever get a chance to visit Colonial Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City, I heartily recommend it. Definitely one of Michigan’s coolest museums!

PPS: Love the Bridge peeking up just to the right of the flagpole.