A Tale of Two Bridges: History of Port Huron’s Blue Water Bridge

Freighter Saginaw Under the Blue Water Bridge

Untitled, photo by Diane

The website Michigan History was produced by someone at MSU. While I have no idea who or why they gave up on what was shaping up to be a cool website, the history checks out. The page on Port Huron’s Blue Water Bridge says:

Perhaps Port Huron’s greatest claim to fame is the Blue Water Bridge, a historic arcing bridge that serves as a means of transportation between Canada and the United States. The bridge is located over the St. Clair River, and connects Port Huron, Michigan, to Sarnia, Ontario. In 2013 the Blue Water Bridge celebrated its 75th anniversary, and a closer look at its history show why Port Huron residents take pride in the structure.

The original Blue Water Bridge was constructed in 1938, and was built by the American Bridge Company of New York, and the Hamilton Bridge Company of Ontario. The original bridge is an arch cantilever bridge, which was designed to not only support large amounts of traffic, but also to have an aesthetic arching look. In the late 1980s the border crossing became so popular that plans for a new bridge were brought up. However, instead of demolishing the old bridge, a new one was built in 1997 beside the old bridge, to support eastbound traffic.

The Michigan cost for building the new bridge, and renovating the old one was $62.6 million dollars. (Michigan Department of Transportation) The project was considered an enormous success and won awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Ontario Institution of Steel Construction, and the Federal Highway Administration. For Port Huron residents the bridge signifies the close connection with Canada, and the willingness of the two sides to work closely together.

Click for more about the history of Port Huron. If you want to get really in depth, The Construction History of the Blue Water Bridge (pdf) is an excellent account that details the political maneuverings and construction challenges of both bridges.

View Diane’s photo of the freighter Saginaw passing under the Blue Water Bridge background bigtacular and see more in her Freighters and the St. Clair River slideshow.

There’s more Michigan bridges on Michigan in Pictures, and since you’ve read this far, Boatnerd’s page on the Saginaw has everything you’ll want to know about the self-unloading bulk carrier that was launched May 9th, 1953 as the John J. Boland. It’s one of three near sister vessels built by this shipyard: The John G. Munson which is still plying the lakes and the Detroit Edison that suffered a career-ending grounding in Lake Michigan in December of 1980.

Winter at Bond Falls

Winter at Bond Falls

Winter at Bond Falls, photo by Aime Lucas Photography

The Bond Falls entry at GoWaterfalling.com says:

Bond Falls is in the western U.P. on Bond Falls Rd, east of Pauding MI. This is the most impressive waterfall in Michigan with the possible exception of Tahquamenon Falls. The main drop is 40 feet high and 100+ feet wide. Above the main falls are a series of cascades and rapids that must drop a total of 20 feet.

The water level is controlled by a dam, and a steady flow over the falls is maintained for scenic reasons. Of course during the spring melt the flow is much higher.

Bond Fall is a Michigan State Scenic Site. The site was renovated around 2003. The old parking area was upstream of the falls, and a steep concrete stairway led to the base of the falls. The new parking area is near the base of the falls, and a level boardwalk leads you to prime views of the falls.

Read on for more including directions to the falls.

Aime writes: The majestic Bond Falls. Normally a short, easy walk but in the winter a very hazardous one. The steep steps were covered with a few layers of ice and the path was extremely slippery. It was totally worth it.

View her photo bigger, follow her on Facebook, and purchase prints and see more work on her website!

Many more Michigan waterfalls on Michigan in Pictures.

Yellow Dog Falls and Michigan’s Water

Yellow Dog Falls near Big Bay

Yellow Dog Falls near Big Bay, photo by Michigan Nut Photography

Have I said lately how great Go Waterfalling is? It’s the best! There’s comprehensive and informative listing with solid advice for visiting waterfalls in Michigan, neighboring Ontario & Wisconsin and the rest of the nation from California to West Virginia.

The Go Waterfalling page on Yellow Dog Falls says (in part):

Yellow Dog Falls is the name given to the main drop on the Yellow Dog River east of Country Road 510. The river steadily descends on it way down to Lake Superior, and there are at least seven drops of varying sizes. Many are only a few feet in height. At Yellow Dog Falls the river drops over 20 feet in a short distance. This feature is distinctive because of the large boulder that splits the falls in two.

The falls is located off of County Road 510. Just south of the bridge over the Yellow Dog River there is a small parking area on the east side. There is a trail to the main falls, which are about 1 mile downstream. The trail continues, but becomes increasingly faint for another mile or so, taking you past half a dozen rapids and small falls.

More including directions, maps and photos at Go Waterfalling.

Full disclosure: I can’t talk about the without thinking about the Eagle Mine, a ticking time bomb that sits at the headwaters of this beautiful river. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on this mine, pro and con. I will say that acid sulfide mines have done this to rivers in the West and that acid mines from a hundred years ago in Colorado and two thousand years ago in the Roman Empire continue to seep pollution.

A decade ago I worked with a group of local citizens, business owners, and organizations on Save the Wild UP, an organization dedicated to keeping sulfide mining out of Michigan.The mine was ultimately established and more are planned, including uranium mines. Sulfide mines, and any project that carries a significant risk of pollution are not Pure Michigan in any way, and I will always call to reject threats like this to the water that is our economic and spiritual lifeblood.

John aka Michigan Nut writes: Yellow Dog Falls near Big Bay, Michigan. It was really quite remarkable what little snow and ice there was on Christmas Day. The road to this falls is normally part of a designated snowmobile trail this time of year.

View the photo bigger and see lots more on the Michigan Nut Photography Facebook page.

More mighty Michigan waterfalls on Michigan in Pictures.

Winter Solstice: Ten seconds at Tahquamenon edition

winter-solstice-at-tahquamenon-falls

winter solstice, upper tahquamenon falls, michigan, photo by twurdemann

I wrote that the actual moment of the solstice was 11:48 PM last night, but it’s actually TONIGHT!  Anyway, here’s a simply gorgeous photo from the 2013 winter solstice at Tahquamenon Falls to kick off the shortest day of the year. I hope you can fit everything in and get a great start to your week!

View twurdemann’s incredible ten-second exposure bigger and see more including some more shots of the dramatically different scene at the Falls in 2013 in his winter slideshow.

Lots more Tahquamenon Falls and more about the winter solstice on Michigan in Pictures!

Doing nothing about Asian carp probably isn’t going to work

Salmon Fishing on the Sable River Outlet

Salmon Fishing on the Sable River Outlet, Ludington Michigan, photo by Craig Sterken

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!

View Craig’s photo bigger, see lots more Great Lakes goodness in his slideshow and view & purchase photos from him on his website.(this one is in the Ludington collection)

More about the threat of Asian carp on Michigan in Pictures.

 

 

Forecasting sunsets through Sunset WX

Sunset at the Bend Area

Sunset, photo by Kevin Povenz

If you’re looking to get the perfect sunset, you might want to check out the sunset forecast from Sunset WX. They explain (in part) their model for sunset forecasts:

…we understand there are numerous definitions for the criteria: Vivid, average, and poor. However, as a landscape photographer, there are certain variables I look for each evening before making the decision to take time out of my day and photograph the sunset. The most important factor I look for is sky cover, and more specifically, the existence of high clouds over the area. High clouds not only provide moisture to refract the sunlight, their ‘wispy’ formation also provides “texture” to the sky and are high enough in the atmosphere for the sun to scatter light below. Think of these as a movie theatre screen, in which light can be projected upon.

Because of this, we weighted high clouds the most as stated before, and consider this necessary for a “Vivid” sunset. In general, regions that are displayed “Poor” in the model, are areas of near 100% of total cloud cover, and also areas that are projected to experience precipitation around sunset time. The ‘hard to define’ area comes in between the two. To some, a clear sky at the time of sunset may be the definition of a great one. In this model, it is our intent to weight a clear sky sunset as average, and therefore it would show up as green or light yellow. The oranges and reds are really the areas where we are trying to show that the sunset will be one of those that makes you go ‘Wow’.

Click through to check out the live sunset forecast map – it’s pretty cool!

Kevin took this photo back in December of 2012 at “The Bend Area” in Ottawa County on the Grand River near Jenison. View it bigger and see lots more in his Sunrise/Sunset slideshow.

Lots more great Michigan sunsets on Michigan in Pictures!

Michigan Wild & Scenic Rivers: Over the (Pine) River

HDRtist Pro Rendering - http://www.ohanaware.com/hdrtistpro/

Pine River Bridge Wellston, Michigan, photo by John Mickevich

It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States that certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.
~Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, October 2, 1968

Michigan has 16 nationally designated Wild & Scenic Rivers, and one of these is the Pine River. The Pine River Management Plan says (in part):

Visitors to the Pine River Corridor continue to enjoy a variety of recreation experiences in natural appearing settings. Visitors may encounter both non-motorized and motorized recreation on land within the Pine River corridor (such as hiking, mountain biking, hunting, and auto touring) while only non-motorized recreation is encountered in the river channel. High quality commercial services are available for recreation activities, particularly for boating and fishing.

Watercraft use, particularly canoeing, is an important recreation activity on the Pine River. The river character provides watercraft users with a moderate challenge in practicing boating and water safety skills and a high degree of interaction with the natural environment.

…Fishing on the Pine River is another popular recreation activity. The Pine River is considered a “blue ribbon” trout fishery and many anglers take advantage of the early morning and evening hours and weekdays to fish with some degree of solitude.

Click to view it on a map!

View John’s photo background big and see more in his Manistee County slideshow.

More Michigan Wild & Scenic Rivers on Michigan in Pictures – safe travels everyone!

PS: Marilyn Wilkie shared that this is the Mortimer E Cooley Bridge on M-55. It’s a Metal Cantilever 12 Panel Rivet-Connected Pratt Deck Truss bridge built in 1935.