Lighthouse Wanna Be

Lighthouse Wanna Be

Lighthouse Wanna Be, photo by Rudy Malmquist.

Because really, who DOESN’T want their own lighthouse?

Chromatic: Gilmore Car Museum


Chromatic, photo by pairadocs.

Vince made his first visit to the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners. He says that he spent so much time drooling over the pretty cars, that didn’t stop to take note of what all of them were.

It looks like that would be easy to do:

The Gilmore Car Museum began in 1963 as the hobby of Donald S. Gilmore when his wife, Genevieve, gave him an antique car for his birthday – a 1920 Pierce-Arrow “project car”. With the help of some friends, the auto was placed under a tent and a full restoration followed. The hobby soon grew into a collection of over 30 automobiles. Mr. Gilmore purchased 90 acres of farm property and had several historic barns dismantled piece by piece and moved to the site. It was Mr. Gilmore’s wife who suggested the idea of turning the collection into a museum where future generations could enjoy the restored cars for years to come…

Today, the site includes eight historic barns, a re-created 1930s service station, a small town train station, and nearly three miles of paved roads. It isn’t uncommon for guest to catch a glimpse of one of the vintage cars or the authentic London double-decker bus in motion. And if you visit on a weekend or special show, don’t be surprised if the driver asks you to hop in for a nostalgic road trip!

Today the Gilmore Car Museum houses almost 200 cars, from a 1899 Locomobile to the classic Duesenberg and Tucker ’48 and all the way up to the muscle cars of the 60s and 70s. museum is located between Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo & Battle Creek and is open daily from 9 AM – 5 PM (6 on weekends), May through October and hosts a number of great events throughout the summer and fall.

Be sure to view the above photo larger and here’s a bunch more photos from the Gilmore Car Museum on Flickr (slideshow).

Eaton County and the Charlotte Courthouse

Court House and museum Charlotte Michigan

Court House and museum Charlotte Michigan, photo by baklein62.

The brief history on the Eaton County web site says:

Eaton County, named for President Andrew Jackson’s Secretary of War (John Eaton), sometimes referred to as a cabinet county, was organized in 1837. Due to lack of population and buildings in the designated county seat (Charlotte), government and judicial functions were performed in the village of Bellevue.

…In 1882 the Eaton County Board of Supervisors resolved “to erect a building for court and public office purposes” at no more than $50,000 cost; this was later amended to $40,000. When completed, the cost of this courthouse was nearly $80,000.

The contract for design was awarded to D.W. Gibbs & Company of Toledo, Ohio with the firm of Miles, Cramer and Horn also from Toledo doing construction. The corner stone was laid on July 4, 1883 and this building was ready for use in October 1885.

Read more about Courthouse Square and the museum including information about and photos of the exhibits.

This photo is part of Barney’s sales territory set and I think the set demonstrates that a good attitude goes a long way toward enjoying your job.



verve, photo by yodraws.

Wallpapery wonderfulness from Saugatuck Dunes State Park, part of Yolanda’s the Lakeshore set (slideshow).

More about the park (including a map) at Bracing Against The Wind at Saugatuck Dunes State Park from Michigan in Pictures.

Photographers of West Michigan and a Grand Haven Sunset

Grand Haven 05

Grand Haven 05, photo by jbatts.

jbatts says that on a whim she drove out Grand Haven and captured these photos from sunset at Grand Haven State Park (slideshow) on a January evening with 25+ mph winds and single-digit windchills.

It’s one of the photos in the new group she started on Flickr for Photographers of West Michigan. Speaking of the photographers of West Michigan, what do you want to bet that you can find the photo from the guy in the red jacket on Flickr too?

Newaygo Mill … and Newaygo County

Newaygo Mill

Newaygo Mill, photo by evanfarinosi.

Evan started the Newaygo County group on Flickr and he’d love it if you’d share your photos on the area there.

The City of Newaygo’s history page says:

The City of Newaygo is the oldest community in Newaygo County. The Penoyer and Brooks families were among the first settlers to Newaygo. They founded Newaygo’s first saw mill known as the “Big Red Mill” … The proximity of the Muskegon River was the driving force of Newaygo’s early economy, with mills, lumbering, and recreation developing near by.

I also found a cool gallery of historical photos of logging in Newaygo County in the Newaygo County Historical Archives.

Since I don’t know when we’ll pass this way again, I should say that Wikipedia’s entry on Newaygo says that the population was 1,670 at the 2000 census. I also added Newaygo, MI to the Absolute Michigan map of Michigan.

River of Mystery – exploring the St. Joseph River

St. Joseph River Valley

St. Joseph River Valley, photo by mojophiltre.

Mojophiltre took this photo of the St. Joseph River, just above the Buchanan Hydro-Electric Dam. He has a view of the water going over the Buchanan Dam that you’ll want to check out too.

As usual, Wikipedia has an entry on the St. Joseph River – I like to include these so that people who are passionate and knowledgeable can add to the phenomenal resource that Wikipedia offers. The St. Joseph River Watershed site (which has some cool maps of the watershed but some rather annoying Java) says:

The St. Joseph River Watershed is located in the southwest portion of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan and northwestern portion of Indiana. It spans the Michigan-Indiana border and empties into Lake Michigan at St. Joseph, Michigan. The watershed drains 4,685 square miles from 15 counties (Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Hillsdale, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren in Michigan and De Kalb, Elkhart, Kosciusko, Lagrange, Noble, St. Joseph and Steuben in Indiana). The watershed includes 3,742 river miles…

The Friends of the St. Joseph River has a nifty historical photo of the Buchanan Dam and a great article about the history of the names of the St. Joseph River by Bob Owens & Scott Null. The river was important to native peoples – all the way from the enigmatic Hopewell Mound Builders who made their home all along the Saint Joseph River valley to the Fox & Sauk who moved in as mercenaries for the English. This very interesting page lists various names for the river and I think it’s fascinating how one river can provide such a wealth of insight into Michigan’s history:

  • The Miami called it Sauk-Wauk-Sil-Buck (which The Google thinks means “River of Mystery”).
  • The Iroquois, who apparently conducted a nasty genocidal campaign on the Algonquian in the region, called the river The Illinois – maybe because the first Algonquian tribe they met were the Illinois.
  • In spring of 1672, Explorer Rene-Robert Cavalier De La Salle (searching for the best route between Quebec and the mouth of the Mississippi) ran into the Miami (who by this time were in the pay of the Iroquois against their Algonquin brethren), so naturally he christened it The River of the Miamis.
  • Jesuit Missionary Claude Allouez (who earlier had named Lake Michigan “Lake Saint Joseph” after first sighting it on Catholic Feast Day of Saint Joseph) founded a mission at the rail junction at Bertrand. It’s noteworthy that when LaSalle returned later, he still called it the River of the Miami.
  • North and east, the French built Fort St. Joseph near Niles in 1691. At that time the Potowatomi (who called the river Sohg-Wah-Se-Pe – also Mystery River) were friendly with the French.
  • Around 1700, the Fox & Sauk tribes, who were allied with the English and named the river O-Sang-E-Wong-Se-Pe (Mystery River again), began to tangle with the Potowatomi and French.

The authors advocate for naming the river the Sagwa. I don’t know about that, but I do know that time seems to mysteriously disappear when I run into cool Michigan history like this!

More from the Michigan Fall Wallpaper series

The Mean Streets of Allegan

The Mean Streets

The Mean Streets, photo by Brian.H.

Brian is a member of the Allegan Camera Club.

Wikipedia’s entry for Allegan says that Allegan has a population around 5,000 and is the county seat of Allegan County. It was apparently also named by Michigan historian Henry Rowe Schoolcraft in 1837 to sound like a Native American word.

Neither Wikipedia or the City of Allegan have much to say about the meanness of Allegan’s streets.

Fall Color Tours: Lansing – Grand Ledge – Hastings – Battle Creek – Eaton Rapids

maplepath by Aunt Owwee

maplepath, photo by Aunt Owwee

Our next fall color tour from Travel Michigan, Lansing – Grand Ledge – Hastings – Battle Creek – Eaton Rapids, starts where the above photo was taken: at the Fenner Nature Center in Lansing (once known as the Fenner Arboretum). The park is named after biologist Carl G. Fenner and has 130 acres with 4 miles of trails winding through maple groves, pine forests, swamp forests, old fields and 3 different ponds. This weekend (Oct 20 & 21) they’re having an Apple Butter Festival. Aunt Owwee (Shirl) has a cool four seasons view from here and lot more great shots of autumn in Michigan.

If you’ve got the nature center bug, you can stop at the Woldumar Nature Center, located along the Grand River not far southwest of Lansing. From there, head out M-43 to Grand Ledge. Fitzgerald Park aka “The Ledges” are absolutely gorgeous in the fall, as evidenced by this photo from Rein Nomm of Fall at the Ledges that appeared last year on Michigan in Pictures. Not convinced? Search fall at Grand Ledge on Flickr. Last weekend, the city of Grand Ledge held their annual Color Cruise, but there’s still plenty of color to be found.

Thornapple River by hansendmThen it’s on to Hastings and Historic Charlton Park, a re-creation of a 19th century town. The structures are open only Memorial Day to Labor Day but you can certainly enjoy strolling along the river. For a little more exercise, jump on the non-motorized vehicle only Paul Henry – Thornapple Trail (see photos of the trail on Flickr). When complete, the trail will be a 42-mile route from Grand Rapids to Vermontville. The photo to the right of the Thornapple River was taken by hansendm.

The it’s on to Gull Lake and the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. The sanctuary is one of the North America’s pioneer wildlife conservation centers and offers a chance to see birds in the wild, bird displays and birds of prey enclosures featuring rare and common raptors including a bald eagle, red-tailed hawks and eastern screech owl.

Travel Michigan suggests a possible detour to the Fort Custer Recreation Area, located between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. It features three lakes, the Kalamazoo River and an excellent trail system that includes 16 miles of mountain bike trails. The 3000+ acre area was farmland that was acquired by the federal government to establish Camp Custer, an induction and military training center for the US Army during WWII.

If it’s raining or all this outdoor stuff doesn’t sound fun, consider stopping at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners which features almost 200 vehicles spanning over 100 years of automotive heritage from a 1899 Locomobile to the muscle cars of the 60s and 70s.

Kalamazoo river from the Nature Center bridge by cathieContinuing south, we come to the city of Battle Creek where recommended stops include the Sojourner Truth Monument (check out this set of photos of the Monument), Binder Park Zoo, the Leila Arboretum and Children’s Garden and the Battle Creek Linear Park. The park is a walkable, bikeable and billed as “the world’s largest classroom,” featuring signs that tell about plant, animal, cultural and historical points-of-interest along the park.

If you’re hungry as you head out on Old 27, consider Cornwell’s Turkey House aka Turkeyville USA. A bit further south is the town of Marshall. In addition to being a shopping mecca, Marshall’s downtown is designated as a National Historic Landmark District and features a wealth of historic attractions including the American Museum of Magic.

The photo to the right is of the Kalamazoo river from the Nature Center bridge by cathie and it’s just one of the places you can stop as you ease on down the road back to Lansing through the towns of Albion, Springport & Eaton Rapids. They recommend a stop at The English Inn of Eaton Rapids for dinner. Having eaten there before, I can only say “got room for another?”

Just so it’s clear, these fall color tour entries are produced by Absolute Michigan & Michigan in Pictures using the great information compiled in Travel Michigan’s Fall Color Tours as a starting point. We’re trying to add to what they’ve put together – not rip them off! As always, if you have links to information or photos that we missed, comments or reports, post them in the comments below!

Don’t miss our Michigan Fall Wallpaper series and see more of Travel Michigan’s Fall Color Tours.

Harvest time for Michigan vines


Vineyard, photo by zotttgeek.

This vineyard in Antwerp, Michigan is part of a nice set of photos called A Perfect Day in Michigan (slideshow). The vineyard is just one of a rapidly growing number of Michigan vineyards that will be harvested in the days and weeks to come.

Harvest time brings a host of wine and harvest events including the Leelanau Harvest Stompede (Sep 22/23), Detroit Uncorked (Sep 28), New Buffalo Harvest Wine & Music Festival (Oct 6), The Big Grape Tour on the SE Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail (Nov 10), Holiday Cheer on the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail (Nov 10/11), Toast the Season on the Leelanau Wine Trail (Nov 10/11 & 17/18) and the Mac and Cheese Bake-off on the Old Mission Wine Trail (Nov 24).

There’s a bunch more events at individual wineries along with all kinds of Michigan wine and winery information available at