March 12, 2009
Be sure to check Paul’s photo out bigger and see more of Royal Oak photos in his slideshow. You can also check out about 400 more Royal Oak photos from the Absolute Michigan pool.
In 1819, Michigan Gov. Lewis Cass and several companions set out on an exploration of Michigan territory to disprove land surveyors’ claims that the territory was swampy and uninhabitable. The beginning of their journey seemed to support those claims until they reached a desirable area of higher ground near the intersections of Main, Rochester and Crooks Roads. Here they encountered a stately oak tree with a trunk considerably wider than most other oaks. Its large branches reminded Cass of the legend of the royal oak tree, under which King Charles II of England took sanctuary from enemy forces in 1660. Cass and his companions christened the tree, the “Royal Oak.” And so Royal Oak received its name.
As early as 1891, when Royal Oak was a small village, there were only a few hundred residents. In the 10-year span from 1900 to 1910 the population grew to over 1,000. By the time Royal Oak was incorporated as a city in 1921, the population had exploded to over 6,000. This was due in large part to new jobs created by the booming auto industry. The development of the super highway, Woodward Avenue, led to greater population expansion. Woodward Avenue replaced the old Indian road, Saginaw Trail, as the connection between Detroit, Pontiac, Flint and Saginaw, making Royal Oak more accessible. Today, the 28-mile Woodward Avenue (M-1), bridging 10 communities from the Detroit River north to downtown Pontiac, holds the honorary designation of Michigan Heritage Route. The designation was awarded because of the historical and cultural significance of some 350 sites along Woodward Avenue, including 42 historic churches.
You can get tons more great Royal Oak history & historic photos from Historic Royal Oak by Dr. David G. Penney.
Wikipedia’s Royal Oak entry says that as of 2000, the city had a total population of 60,062, making it Michigan’s 18th largest city. Michigan in Pictures has a lot of photos that involve Royal Oak (apparently there’s some sort of Photographic Guild that exhibits there).
December 13, 2008
A lot of times I think I’ve written about something on Michigan in Pictures and then when I look, it turns out I haven’t.
Such is the case with the Pere Marquette #1225 Christmas train. David writes that this train was used as the model for the train in the animated movie “The Polar Express” with Tom Hanks (view trailer on YouTube). Wikipedia explains:
The steam locomotive that pulls the Polar Express is modeled after an actual locomotive that is on display at the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, Michigan. The Pere Marquette 1225 Berkshire-type (2-8-4), built in 1941 at the Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, OH, was part of the Pere Marquette Railway system before being decommissioned in 1951. Slated for scrapping, it was acquired by Michigan State University (MSU) in 1957 and exhibited on campus.
In 1971, MSU steam enthusiasts commenced the formidable task of restoring the mighty locomotive to operating condition. Restoration was substantially completed in 1985, and in 1988, number 1225 started pulling excursion trains in the Owosso area and around Michigan. The locomotive has been listed on the United States National Register of Historical Places.
In the film, artistic liberty is taken with the appearance of the locomotive and its tender, both being made to seem even more massive than the 794,500 pound (361,136 kilogram) original. Many of the train’s sound effects, such as the whistle blowing and steam exhausting, were created from live sampling of number 1225 while in operation.
Learn more about the train and see it in action at The Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso. See it bigger along with other views of Michigan in David’s Michigan slideshow (view set) and see more photos of the Pere Marquette 1225 in the 1225 Michigan slideshow (really a treat!)
The movie was based on the Caldecott Medal winning book The Polar Express written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. Like the movie, it’s set partially in Van Allsburg’s hometown, Grand Rapids.
November 21, 2008
Wikipedia says that Port Sanilac is a village in Sanilac Township of Sanilac County, pop 658:
This village was originally a lumberjack settlement on the shore of Lake Huron named “Bark Shanty Point.” In the late 1840s and 1850s, the settlement gained its first sawmill, schoolhouse, and general store. In 1854, Bark Shanty Point’s first post office opened. In 1857 the village was renamed to Port Sanilac, as it is in Sanilac Township in Sanilac County. Local legend attributes the name to a Wyandotte Indian Chief named Sanilac.
November 17, 2008
The Zilwaukee Bridge carries northbound and southbound I-75 125 feet over the Saginaw River at Zilwaukee, MI with a total length of just over 8,000 ft. This high level bridge replaced a drawbridge at the same location that caused major backups on I-75 with frequent openings for ship traffic going from Saginaw, MI to the Great Lakes. With a major and widely publicized construction mishap and huge budget overruns this is one of the more widely know bridges in the State of Michigan.
You can read much more about this star-crossed bridge in Wikipedia’s Zilwaukee Bridge entry, but the best resource is michiganhighways.org. There you can find The Zilwaukee Bridge: From the Beginning by MDOT. This details the whole story including “The Accident“. There’s also a bunch of photos of the bridge including an aerial view and an annotated aerial view.
October 27, 2008
Holloway Reservoir Regional Park is a 5500-acre park near Columbiaville in Genesee County. The park includes the 1,975-acre Holloway Reservoir and provides opportunities for fishing, canoeing and other recreation.
October 25, 2008
Last night I had dinner with a writer from England who is exploring vineyards in Leelanau by bicycle for a story. He was asking me some questions about how Michigan ranks nationally in grape & wine production. I didn’t have all the answers, but fortunately there’s the great Michigan Wines web site from the Michigan Grape & Wine Council.
From their fast facts page, I learned that Michigan has about 1,800 acres of wine vineyards, making Michigan the eighth largest in wine grape producer in the nation (if our juice grapes are factored in, we’re 4th largest). We’ve increased our vineyard area over 60% in the last 10 years. Michigan is 13th in wine production with 56 commercial wineries that produce over 425,000 cases of wine annually. The state’s wineries are also popular tourist destinations, attracting more than 800,000 visitors annually.
Most of Michigan’s quality wine grapes grow within 25 miles of Lake Michigan. Here, the “lake effect” protects the vines with snow in winter, retards bud break in spring helping avoid frost damage, and extends the growing season by up to four weeks.
Michigan has four federally approved viticultural areas (AVAs). In the northwest part of the state, near Traverse City, lie the Leelanau Peninsula and the Old Mission Peninsula. This area has a growing season averaging 145 days and an average heat accumulation of 2,350 growing degree days; 51% of Michigan’s wine grapes grow here. In the southwest part of the state lie the Lake Michigan Shore and Fennville appellations, where 45% of Michigan’s wine grapes are grown. This area has a growing season averaging 160 days and an average heat accumulation of 2,750 growing degree days.
You’ll also want to check out their history page for the very interesting story of Michigan’s winemaking history. Here’s the vineyard slideshow from the Absolute Michigan pool and you can get lots more features and links for Michigan wines from Absolute Michigan.
October 21, 2008
I am continually surprised by how popular Michigan in Pictures (in particular this post) is for searches for “fall backgrounds” or “fall wallpaper“. Every day about 100 people end up here, and I feel it’s sort of a duty to find a nice big photo every few days … sort of like feeding the fish.
Nicole took this photo on an Exposure.Detroit photo safari at Stony Creek Metropark on Saturday. You can purchase some of her photos in her etsy shop.