Winter day in Sault Sainte Marie

Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan,photo courtesy Seeking Michigan

This photo was taken by an unknown person on an unknown winter day on Water Street in Sault Sainte Marie. Wikipedia says that Sault Ste. Marie is the county seat of Chippewa County and the second most populous city in the Upper Peninsula.

Founded as a mission in 1668 by Father Jacques Marquette, Sault Ste. Marie is the oldest European settlement in the Midwest. A fur trading settlement soon grew up at this crossroads on both banks of the river, making the area the center of the 3,000-mile fur trade route extending west from Montreal to the Sault, then to the country north of Lake Superior.

The town was split into two in 1797, when the Upper Peninsula was transferred from the province of Upper Canada to the United States.

Sault Sainte Marie is Old French for “falls of St. Mary” (Sault de Sainte Marie), a reference to the rapids in the St. Marys River, which joins Lake Superior to Lake Huron. The spelling Sault-Sainte-Marie is more usual in French, but the name is written without hyphens in English. Both cities and the vicinity as a whole are often referred to as the Sault or the Soo.

You can learn more about the Soo from the  Sault Ste. Marie Visitors Bureau and see a boatload of old photos from Sault Sainte Marie from Seeking Michigan.

Creating Cities in Michigan

Lansing, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, Traverse City, Marquette and Kalamazoo are by no means all of Michigan’s cities (or even the largest). Each, however, seems to be an anchor for its region – a center to which people look to for culture, entertainment and commerce.

October 13-15, 2008, lovers of cities large & small from Michigan and all over the country will head to Detroit for the Creative Cities Summit 2.0 (CCS2), an exploration of what our cities could become and how we can work to make them. Organizers have chosen Detroit, a city so deeply forged in America’s industrial fires that it’s been devastated by the flickering of that flame. I’m headed down there and will try to bring some of the ideas back to you through Absolute Michigan – I hope that some of you can join me there.

The Photos (left to right)

Creative Cities Summit 2.0 in Detroit on Oct. 13-15, 2008

CCS2 will present a dynamic and engaging conversation about how communities around the world are integrating innovation, social entrepreneurship, sustainability, arts & culture and business to create vibrant economies. Full conference registration is $300 for the two and half day event, and there’s also a “no frills” registration that is only $100. There’s also a free “Unconference” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) on the 12th for designers, urban planners, civic leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, students, community leaders to explore and discuss what’s possible for Detroit.
Keynote speakers include:

  • Bill Strickland, MCG-Bidwell Corp.
  • Richard Florida, Author Who’s Your City
  • Charles Landry, Author The Art of City Making
  • John Howkins, Author The Creative Economy
  • Dean Kamen, Inventor, DEKA
  • Majora Carter, Sustainable South Bronx
  • Doug Farr, Architect and Author Sustainable Urbanism
  • Ben Hecht, Pres. & CEO Living Cities
  • Tom Wujec, Fellow, Autodesk
  • Carol Coletta, CEOs for Cities
  • Giorgio Di Cicco, Poet Laureate, City of Toronto and Author, The Municipal Mind
  • Diana Lind, Editor, Next American City magazine

Breakout sessions on topics such as:

  • Race and the Creative City
  • Cities, Universities & Talent
  • Marketing, Media and the Creative City
  • Measuring New Things – ROI in the Creative Economy
  • Creative (Small) Cities
  • New Ideas in Urban Amenities
  • Community Vitality: The Role of Artists, Gays, Lesbians & Immigrants
  • Midwest Mega-region: How the Midwest Can Compete
  • Transportation Innovation for Cities
  • Making the Scene: Music & Economic Development

Much (much) more at

Six degrees of Michigan photos

Lunchtime is Laker Time!, photo by mdprovostAmerican Victory by smiles7

Lunchtime is Laker Time!, photo by mdprovost and American Victory, photo by smiles7

Last Wednesday, mdprovost captured this photo of the American Victory under the Blue Water Bridges between Port Huron, Michigan and Pte. Edward, Ontario. On Friday, smiles7 photographed the vessel as she passed through Sault St. Marie on the annual Engineer’s Day. And then they both added them to the Absolute Michigan pool on Flickr – how cool is that??!!

No word as to whether or not Kevin Bacon was aboard.

Fiborn Quarry and the Michigan Karst Conservancy

Portal for the locomotives.jpg

Portal for the locomotives, photo by smartee_martee.

In addition to taking some great pictures, Marty does a wonderful job of digging up and presenting background information. Fiborn Quarry was one of the largest early 20th century quarry operations in the Upper Peninsula, and Marty’s Fiborn Quarry set (slideshow) begins:

Fiborn Quarry was created by a partnership of the Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic Railroad in 1904. This small company town was built to house the workers (homes and a boarding house), offer a school and a general store. The operations consisted of the quarry plant, crusher house and steam engine shop.

Marty goes on to tell you about the role of limestone in the history of the UP, and he also links over to the Michigan Karst Conservancy. In addition to extensive information on the history of Fiborn (be sure to click the little photos at the bottom of the pages too), the MKC tells you about karst:

Karst is a term that was first applied to a plateau region of the Dinaric Alps in Yugoslavia. It is now used to describe similar regions throughout the world that have features formed largely by underground drainage. Karst terrains are characterized by caves, steep valleys, sinkholes, and a general lack of surface streams because drainage is underground…

What does this have to do with Michigan, a land literally scoured by glaciers, a land covered with glacial clay, sand and gravel? Surprisingly, Michigan contains some areas of true karst. They are limited in extent, but this rarity increases their interest and importance. There is also considerable variety in Michigan karst areas: gypsum karst is found in Kent and Iosco counties; a significant amount of surface drainage goes underground in Monroe County, and reappears at “blue holes” in Lake Erie; spectacular sinkholes and earth cracks are found in Alpena and Presque Isle counties; and the broad band of outcrops of the Niagara Escarpment in the Upper Peninsula hosts a number of karst sinks, springs and caves.

Soo Locks Celebration, 1905 right up to tomorrow

Soo Locks Celebration - 1905

Soo Locks Celebration – 1905, photo by Detroit Publishing Co.

The fantastic American Memory feature of the the US Library of Congress had this picture titled Reviewing stand, Saint Marys [sic] Canal celebration. It was taken in 1905, the very first year of a celebration that continues today: the annual Soo Locks Celebration (also known as Engineer’s Day). It’s held every year on the last Friday of June between 10 AM and 4 PM. For those following along, that’s tomorrow, July 29, 2007.

You can click for a whole gallery of shots from the Soo Locks – Sault Ste. Marie Canal on the St Mary’s River from American Memory, see some photos of the Soo Locks and past celebrations from Joel Dinda and tune into the locks via the Soo Locks SkyCam.

Sunset Slacklining

Competing knighting
Competing knighting, photo by xhavier

Sometimes when I dig around for photos, I find other pictures that are totally unrelated to what I am digging for but very cool nonetheless … I think this is one of those cases. The photo was taken at Sherman Park in Sault Ste. Marie, which is apparently a hotbed of slacklining in Michigan.

For more about what looks to be an interesting and challenging pursuit, check out the slacklining photo pool on Flickr, the Slackining entry on Wikipedia and Slacklining information by outdoor photographer Eric Matthes, who writes:

Slacklining began when climbers hanging out in campgrounds became bored and started playing with their equipment. Slacklining develops balance which is helpful in climbing, but that is not the only reason people do it. Far more important is the feeling you get when you experience that moment of perfect balance, when your mind and body are absolutely motionless over the line and all is right in the world.

Herbert C. Jackson

Herbert C. Jackson

Herbert C. Jackson, photo by Jowo

Joel Dinda tells stories about the past and present with his photos and also with the words he writes about them. Some, like the above pictures of a freighter in Sault Ste. Marie or Borucki's Lakers, are about Michigan. Others, such as Life Along the Rail and Thursdays: Vietnam 1971 cross state and national borders.

Take a look, I have no doubt you'll find something interesting.

This photo is part of a set that lends itself well to Flickr's slideshow feature.