Wingspan

Wingspan, photo by Phil Squattrito

in advance of Memorial Day, the New York Times reviewed Heroes on Deck: World War II on Lake Michigan (trailer below) that tells the tale of how dozens of wrecked planes came to be on the bottom of that body of water. They write:

The film, by John Davies, recounts the training of pilots in how to land on aircraft carriers. Two passenger liners were stripped down and fitted with long decks (though not as long as the decks on actual aircraft carriers) and floated on Lake Michigan, where the training could take place without the threat posed by enemy submarines. Landing a plane on a floating airstrip was easier for some young men than others.

…Vintage footage shows crash after crash, though only a few fatalities resulted, in part because preflight training included how to escape if your plane were to go into the drink.

The film, showing on many public television outlets (including NJTV on Saturday and WLIW World on Sunday; check local listings), does more than just revisit an interesting tidbit of military history. It also chronicles present-day efforts to raise some of the planes from the lake bottom and restore them for display in museums and airports.

View Phil’s photo of this World War II fighter plane from the 2009 Gratiot County Airport open house background big and see more in his Transportation slideshow.

Here’s the trailer…

Michigan Front Porch is the World’s Longest!

Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel in the Early 2016 Season, photo by Corey Seeman

The Grand Hotel opened on Mackinac Island in the summer of 1887. At 660 feet, Grand Hotel’s Front Porch is the world’s largest. They note that early on the porch became the principal meeting place for all of Mackinac Island, a promenade for the elderly, and a “Flirtation Walk” for island romantics. Their History photo gallery has a couple of cool photos of the porch from back in the day.

Corey took this last weekend when the Hotel opened for the season. View it background bigtacular and click for tons more of his Mackinac Island photos.

More about the Grand Hotel on Michigan in Pictures, and here’s a video look at the porch:

 

Fiborn Quarry

Fiborn Quarry

Fiborn Quarry, photo by David Marvin

The Michigan Karst Conservancy’s page on Fiborn Quarry begins:

The unusually pure limestone found in what is now the Fiborn Karst Preserve led to development of Fiborn Quarry, which operated from early 1905 until January 1936. The quarry mined, crushed and shipped limestone for use mostly in steelmaking, but also calcium carbide manufacturing and road building.

A small town grew up next to the quarry, which included an elementary school, a boarding house, a company store and housing for employees and their families.

“You just felt like you were living in a little world all of your own. Just like there was no other place,” recalled one former resident who was 13 years old in 1930. “You had your grocery store. You had your post office. You had your school. You had your minister that came in there and gave services. And it just seemed like it was real private.”

Workers broke up the limestone with dynamite, steam shovels loaded the rock into cars which hauled it to a crusher. Crushed limestone was sorted into different sizes hauled on the railroad spur 3-4 miles north to Fiborn Junction and the main rail line to Sault Ste. Marie.

View David’s photo background big and see more from Fiborn in his slideshow.

Not In Kansas Anymore: L Frank Baum, the Wizard of Oz & Michigan

Not in Kansas Anymore

We’re Not In Kansas Anymore!, photo by Tina :O)

The Wizard of Oz rolled off the presses May 17, 1900. It’s one of my all-time favorite books. What you may not know is that L. Frank Baum, author of the beloved series, purchased a large, multi-story Victorian summer home on the southern end of the Macatawa peninsula on Lake Michigan.

Several years ago the Holland Sentinel published a cool piece about Baum and his Macatawa summer home that says (in part):

“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” supposedly was written in Chicago, but some of the forest scenes look just like the pathways that run through the dunes, the younger Baum said.

He assumes Macatawa was where part of the book had been worked on or written, as Baum might have found inspiration from the castle in Castle Park for the yellow brick road, some say, or even based some of the characters in the book on personalities he encountered in the small lakeshore community.

“Especially in the Oz stories, a lot of characters and situations that we may not recognize … he drew lots of inspiration from Macatawa for the book.”

Check out L. Frank Baum, The Goose Man of Macatawa on Absolute Michigan for more about the author’s Michigan ties and information about the Wizard of Oz festival slated for June in Ionia.

About the photo, Tina shares:

This freakie cloud formation started at the end of our wedding photo shoot. There were clouds swirling all over us but luckily no tornados formed. I added some sepia for a little Wizard Of Oz effect.

View her photo background bigtacular and see more in her Pure Michigan slideshow.

Drifting

Drifting

Drifting, photo by Aime Lucas

Amie took this last year in late May, and I’m posting this to let Mother Nature know that “35 degrees in May” is not what we’re looking for out of the month of May!

View Aime’s photo background bigilicious, see more in her Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore slideshow, and be sure to follow Aime Lucas Photography on Facebook.

More beach photos and lots more summery wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!

Beautiful Blossoms

Cherry Orchard Aisles & Blossoms

Cherry Orchard Aisles & Blossoms, photo by Jess Clifton

mLive meteorologist Mark Torregrossa writes that the upcoming weather is looking normal, which is also fantastic for an extended time period of blooming here in Michigan:

Tulip Time runs from Saturday, May 7, to May 14 in downtown Holland. The Traverse City area cherry blossoms are also about to erupt with color.

Cool nights and near normal temperature days are just what we want for a long display of color from these two spring performers.

Gwen Auwerda, Executive Director of Tulip Time in Holland, MI says tulip blossoms can last up to 21 days if high heat is avoided. Auwerda says most of the tulips in Holland, MI are at peak right now, with some of the late bloomers expected to peak next week.

The cooler weather has slowed down the cherry blossoms in northwest Lower Michigan. Nikki Rothwell, MSU Extension educator, says now the cherries are right on track to blossom at the typical time.

Rothwell says sweet cherries are only days away from blooming, with peak bloom in northwest Lower Michigan possibly on Mother’s Day. Tart cherries, which make up most of northwest Lower Michigan’s cherry crop, should start blooming May 11 or May 12, and peak around May 14.

Jess took this back in May of 2014 near Traverse City. View it background bigilicious, enjoy her Mother Nature in Michigan slideshow, and check out more of her work at jesscliftonphotography.com.

More spring wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!

Michigan’s Bird of Fire: Saving the Kirtland’s Warbler

Michigan Bird of Fire Kirtlands Warbler

Kirtland’s Warbler, photo by James Fox

On June 3-4, northeast Michigan will celebrate a Michigan conservation success story with the annual Kirtland’s Warbler Weekend that includes an Au Sable River Kayak Tour. You can also lend a hand this Saturday with the annual jack pine planting day through the Kirtland’s Warbler Initiative!

The Detroit News has a nice editorial by Michael Bean, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the U.S. Department of the Interior about how determination saved Michigan’s “Bird of Fire”, the Kirtland’s Warbler:

More than 60 years ago, scientists realized that the Kirtland’s warbler was in trouble. A 1951 census found fewer than 500 breeding pairs. The bird was among the first species ever listed as endangered and was the first species to ever have a “recovery team.”

Kirtland’s warblers will only nest in young jack pine forest. Jack pine requires fire to open its cones and spread its seeds — hence the nickname, “bird of fire.” Fire suppression policies last century led to the decline of the Kirtland’s warbler, as did parasitism from brown-headed cowbirds. The recovery team had to figure out a way to overcome these challenges to save the species.

Since 1974, the Kirtland’s Warbler Recovery Team has worked to save the species, even when the outlook for recovery was bleak. The recovery team brought together federal, state, academic, nonprofit, and even international partners.

Today, scientists estimate there are more than 4,000 Kirtland’s warblers in Michigan. The population has more than doubled its recovery goal, so the recovery team is no longer needed. Through years of hard work the partners figured out how to provide the conditions necessary for the warblers to survive, and the birds have flourished.

View James’ photo background big and see more in his Grayling 2009 slideshow.