Soo Geometry

soo-geometry-1-by-liz-glass

Soo Geometry I, photo by Liz Glass

Liz says she drove two-and-a-half hours last June to get a burger at the West Pier Drive-in (though she really went for the view). Check out her photo bigger and see more in her awesome Abstracts slideshow.

Over the river … and over the woods

crossing-over-by-terryjohnston

Crossing Over, photo by Terry Johnston

Here’s hoping that everyone has a safe journey this Thanksgiving. The Freep reports that Thanksgiving 2016 is shaping up to be a busy one for holiday travel:

AAA says it expects that more than 1.5 million people in Michigan will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving holiday.

The auto club says Tuesday it would be the most travelers since 2007 and a 2 percent increase from last year. Reasons cited include improvements in the economy during the second half of the year, including rising wages, increased consumer spending and consumer confidence.

Check Terry’s photo which was coincidentally taken back in November 2007 bigger and view more in his Manistee slideshow.

Sixth Street Bridge in Grand Rapids

Built for Horses Sixth Street Bridge Grand Rapids

Built for Horses, photo by Rudy Malmquist

News that the Michigan Department of Transportation is testing drones for bridge inspection reminded me that I was asked to share more of were “bridges other than than the Mackinac Bridge.”

Historicbridges.org is an excellent resource, and their entry for the Sixth Street Bridge in Grand Rapids begins:

The Sixth Street Bridge, with its long 544 foot length excellent physical condition, is a fitting tribute to its builder, the Massillon Bridge Company of Massillon Ohio. Constructed in 1886, this bridge is made of wrought iron. This bridge is one of the most important historic bridges in the entire state of Michigan, since it is the longest pin-connected highway truss in the state. Also, Michigan only has a few truss bridges that are more than one span in length, and most of those are two spans. A four span bridge in Michigan is thus extremely rare for its unusually long length, for Michigan. The bridge is also significant for the length of its individual spans. The bridge has three spans that are 154 feet in length. This is a very long span length for a pin-connected Pratt truss, and is among the longest in Michigan.

…Construction of the bridge began in 1885, when the piers and abutments were constructed. These, with approaches, cost $11,084.95. The wrought iron truss superstructure was erected in 1886 by the Massillon Bridge Company of Massillon, Ohio, costing $20,281. This made the total cost of the bridge $31,365.95.

Read on for much more.

Rudy adds that this is the oldest metal bridge in Michigan. View his photo bigger and see more in his Neutral Density slideshow.

More bridges on Michigan in Pictures.

Houghton Portage Lake Lift Bridge & Swing Bridge

Portage Lift Bridge

Portage Lake Lift Bridge, photo by Robert Michaud

One of the requests I recently received was for more yesterday and today features The City of Hancock has a truly excellent series of in-depth pictorials. You should really check them out! Their feature on the Portage Lake bridges says (in part):

In 1897, the Mineral Range Railroad Company built a new iron swing type bridge, replacing the old wooden bridge. This bridge also featured a two lane roadway, with a railroad crossing underneath. New reconstructed support cribs were also sunk. But on August 15, 1905, disaster struck, when the steamer Northern Wave (Mutual Transit Lines), en route to the Quincy Smelter to pick up copper ingots, smashed into the center section, destroying much of it. The mishap was apparently caused by a mixup in signals.

Original Portage Wooden Swing Bridge Taken from the north side of Ruppe Dock and Warehouse in Hancock, 1878
Original Portage Wooden Swing Bridge Taken from the north side of Ruppe Dock and Warehouse in Hancock, 1878

The bridge would be replaced one year later, again with an iron bridge, and center swing section, and a control house above the roadway, over the center turnstile. This new bridge would have 118 ft. of clearance on the north maritime passage, and 108 ft. on the south side passage. (Newspaper accounts of the period, gave maritime traffic at 6,000 bridge openings per year, and up to 40 daily train crossings per day, both of which began to taper off by 1920). Although almost struck again in 1940 by the Steamer Maritana (Hutchenson Lines), it narrowly avoided the collision by dropping its anchors which caught the submarine telephone cables, stopping it just short of the bridge. (This would happen again 20 years later). Light signaling was added during WWII, to augment the steam whistles already in use. The bridge served the communities until 1960.

In the late 1950s, the Michigan Department of Transportation began studies on how best to replace the aging bridge, with a more modern one, that would accommodate the now much larger ships plying the waterway. It was decided to build what would be become the worlds heaviest aerial lift bridge, which was under construction by 1959, just to the West of the then current bridge. This new bridge, with 4 traffic lanes above, and a railroad crossing below, had its ribbon cutting on Saturday, June 25, 1960. But it almost didn’t happen. During the night before, the Steamer J.F. Schoelkoff (American Steamship Company), traveling westward, signaled for the bridge to open, but the signals were not acted on. Dropping all their anchors, they snagged the submarine telephone cables in an eerie repeat of 20 years previously. Onlookers for the ribbon cutting ceremonies were treated to the spectacle of a large freighter jammed crossways in the waterway, just a quarter mile from the Bridge. Area phone service was disrupted for nearly three days. Telephone service to the bridge, and marine radios were installed shortly. That incident not withstanding, the new Portage Lake Lift Bridge continues to well serve the area, as the possibility of adding yet another new bridge may be explored.

Read on for more!

You can purchase this photo on Robert’s website and see more in his slideshow.

More bridges on Michigan in Pictures.

News for the Nervous: Mackinac Bridge Driver’s Assistance Program

Mackinac Bridge Snow Winter

Mackinac Bridge, photo by Blondieyooper

Fun fact of the day: I have a mild fear of heights! While it’s not crippling enough to stop me from being able to drive over the Mighty Mac, I can definitely see where some people aren’t able to do that. For all of you, here’s a story (with a good video) about a little known service: The Mackinac Bridge Authority will drive you across!

The Mackinac Bridge Authority explains further:

The Mackinac Bridge Authority has a “Driver’s Assistance Program” that provides drivers for those uncomfortable with driving across the Mackinac Bridge. If you are traveling northbound, there is a phone at the south end of the bridge. Instructions for using the phone are posted in the phone box. If you are southbound, just ask a fare collector for assistance. There is no additional fee for this service.

The phone is located on the shoulder of I-75 just north of the Jamet Street exit to Mackinaw City (near Audies Restaurant). You do not need to exit the freeway. Just past the exit, you can pull over to the right and park on the shoulder. The phone box is located on the right-of-way fencing. The box is green and easily spotted. If this is still unclear, please call us at 906-643-7600.

View Blondieyooper’s photo background big and see more in her Gotta Love Winter slideshow.

Lots more about the Mighty Mac on Michigan in Pictures.

Fall reflections at Black River Harbor

Fall Reflections at Black River

Fall reflections at Black River Harbor, photo by Michigan Nut Photography

The Ottawa National Forest page on Black River Harbor Recreation Area explains:

Known for its spectacular waterfalls, idyllic beaches, scenic hiking trails and tranquil campground, the Black River Harbor Recreation Area is a popular destination throughout the year. Originating in Wisconsin, the Black River flows through forested areas of large pine, hemlock and hardwood trees. The River has a series of scenic waterfalls as it drops in elevation to meet Lake Superior. Tannin (tannic acids) from hemlock trees is what gives it its unique color.

The Harbor offers one of the area’s few access points to Lake Superior, with boating being a major summer time activity. The boat ramp can accommodate almost any craft trailered in. There is no launching fee. Boat fuel and snacks are available through the concessionaire. Parking for trucks and boat trailers is ample.

Read on more more information including a map.

John took this photo a few days ago. Check it out bigger and definitely follow Michigan Nut Photography on Facebook for more great fall color and lots more of Michigan at its best!

Michilimackinac and Pontiac’s Rebellion

The Fort and the Bridge

The Fort and the Bridge, photo by Joel Dinda

Mackinac State Historic Parks page on Colonial Michilimackinac says that:

French soldiers constructed the fortified community of Michilimackinac on the south side of the Straits of Mackinac in 1715. The community grew and prospered over the coming years as Michilimackinac became an important center of the Great Lakes fur trade. Every summer, thousands of Native Americans and French-Canadian voyageurs gathered at the post, which served as transfer station for furs trapped in the western Great Lakes and trade goods shipped in from eastern cities such as Montreal and Quebec. Michilimackinac came under British control in 1761, but the fur trade and community life remained relatively unchanged.

Fearful that the post was vulnerable to attack by American rebels, the British disassembled the fort and community and moved it to Mackinac Island in 1779-81.

One factor in the move may also have been an event that happened 252 years ago on June 2, 1763. The fort was captured by Ojibwa & Sauk warriors who gathered to play a huge game of baggatiway. Elizabeth Edwards of Traverse Magazine wrote a great article about the massacre that begins:

Under an unusually hot sun on a late spring day on the Straits of Mackinac, British Major George Etherington, commandant of Fort Michilimackinac, was suffering from an acute case of cultural blindness. And there was no excuse for it. Relaxed at the sidelines of a rousing game of baggatiway (similar to lacrosse) outside the fort, the major should have seen the danger signs in this Ojibwe versus Sauk contest of sweaty, half-naked bodies painted with white clay and charcoal.

The 30-year-old officer was born in the colonies, and most likely grew up on stories of Indian uprisings. He’d even served in the just-ending French and Indian War, in which the English had wrested control of North America from the French—a victory that had put this previously French fort in Etherington’s care. Though the major had been raised on American soil and had fought on it, he was still English. And in that country, a battle was a battle, and a sporting event was a sporting event.

Perhaps that explains why the major missed the clues…

Read on for much more at Traverse, and you can also watch a video on Pontiac’s Rebellion from the History Channel or jump right to the story.

Joel adds that almost every building at Colonial Michilimackinac is a reconstruction, with only two or three minor exceptions. View his photo background bigtacular and see more from the fort and surrounding area in his Straits of Mackinac slideshow.