The River Grand

The River Grand, photo by John Rothwell

Wikipedia’s entry on the Grand River says in part:

The Grand River is the longest river in the U.S. state of Michigan. It runs 252 miles (406 km) through the cities of Jackson, Eaton Rapids, Lansing, Grand Ledge, Portland, Ionia, Lowell, Grand Rapids, and Grand Haven. Native Americans who lived along the river before the arrival of the French and British called the river O-wash-ta-nong, meaning Far-away-water, because of its length.

As the glacial ice receded from what is the central Lower Peninsula of Michigan around 11,000 years ago, the Maple River and lower Grand River served as a drainage channel for the meltwater. The channel ran east to west, emptying into proglacial Lake Chicago, the ancestor of Lake Michigan. Today the Grand River rises in Somerset Township in Hillsdale County and Liberty Township in Jackson County, and flows through Jackson, Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Ionia, Kent, and Ottawa counties before emptying into Lake Michigan. Its watershed drains an area of 5,572 square miles (14,430 km2), including 18 counties and 158 townships. Tributaries of the river include (beginning near river source and travelling downstream): Portage River, Red Cedar River, Looking Glass River, Maple River, Bellamy Creek, Flat River, Thornapple River, Rogue River, Coldbrook Creek, Plaster Creek, Bass River, and Crockery Creek.

…Grand Rapids was built on the site of a mile long rapids on the Grand River, although these have disappeared after the installation of a run-of-river dam in 1866 and five low-rise dams during a river beautification project in 1927.

View the photo background bigtacular and see more in John’s slideshow.

More Michigan rivers on Michigan in Pictures.

Grand Rapids skyline

Grand Rapids Skyline

Grand Rapids skyline, photo by rdmegr

Rodney smoothed out the rapids of the Grand River with this eight minute exposure of the Grand Rapids skyline.

View it bigger, see more in his slideshow, and also check out his website.

More from Grand Rapids on Michigan in Pictures.

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.

Forecasting sunsets through Sunset WX

Sunset at the Bend Area

Sunset, photo by Kevin Povenz

If you’re looking to get the perfect sunset, you might want to check out the sunset forecast from Sunset WX. They explain (in part) their model for sunset forecasts:

…we understand there are numerous definitions for the criteria: Vivid, average, and poor. However, as a landscape photographer, there are certain variables I look for each evening before making the decision to take time out of my day and photograph the sunset. The most important factor I look for is sky cover, and more specifically, the existence of high clouds over the area. High clouds not only provide moisture to refract the sunlight, their ‘wispy’ formation also provides “texture” to the sky and are high enough in the atmosphere for the sun to scatter light below. Think of these as a movie theatre screen, in which light can be projected upon.

Because of this, we weighted high clouds the most as stated before, and consider this necessary for a “Vivid” sunset. In general, regions that are displayed “Poor” in the model, are areas of near 100% of total cloud cover, and also areas that are projected to experience precipitation around sunset time. The ‘hard to define’ area comes in between the two. To some, a clear sky at the time of sunset may be the definition of a great one. In this model, it is our intent to weight a clear sky sunset as average, and therefore it would show up as green or light yellow. The oranges and reds are really the areas where we are trying to show that the sunset will be one of those that makes you go ‘Wow’.

Click through to check out the live sunset forecast map – it’s pretty cool!

Kevin took this photo back in December of 2012 at “The Bend Area” in Ottawa County on the Grand River near Jenison. View it bigger and see lots more in his Sunrise/Sunset slideshow.

Lots more great Michigan sunsets on Michigan in Pictures!

Fireproof? Michigan’s bald eagles full of flame retardants

Bald Eagle by Kevin Povenz

Bald Eagle, photo by Kevin Povenz

Sorry. I like to start the weekend on a better note usually, I hope you have a good one.

Environmental Health News recently ran a story bluntly titled Michigan’s bald eagles full of flame retardants. It says (in part):

Michigan’s bald eagles are among the most contaminated birds on the planet when it comes to phased-out flame retardant chemicals in their livers, according to new research.

The study, published last month in the Journal of Great Lakes Research, found that the top predators in the Great Lakes are highly exposed to banned flame retardants, still widespread in the environment.

Michigan’s population of bald eagles is stable, but the compounds have been linked in other birds to impaired reproduction, weird behavior and development, and hormone disruption.

“While the sensitivity of eagles to PBDEs has yet to be determined, there is a possibility that the exposures reported here may be associated with sub-clinical effects,” Nil Basu, an associate professor at McGill University who led study while at the University of Michigan, said in an email.

More than four decades ago, companies started putting polybrominated diphenyl ethers, PBDEs, into furniture cushions, electronics and clothing in an effort to slow the spread of flames if they catch fire.

…The chemicals “are everywhere,” Basu said. “They build up in the food chains so that top predators – such as bald eagles – accumulate high levels.”

Flame retardants have been found in birds all over the world – from the United States to China.

Read on for lots more about a sad story for these amazing animals. Oh, and don’t forget. Humans are a “top predator” too!

About this photo from last November, Kevin wrote:

Went down by the Grand River to see if any eagles were around. Now the conditions were not the greatest, quite windy, grey overcast skies and light mist in the air. But I haven’t been out all day so I said to myself that I just got to do this. Well I got to see the Eagles and this one just looked at me with the expression like “why are you here on such a crappy day”

Kevin is far and away the master bald eagle photographer in the Absolute Michigan pool on Flickr – heck, I just featured one of his eagle photos a couple of weeks ago. View his photo bigger and see many more of his really great Michigan bald eagle photos on Flickr.

Lots more about bald eagles on Michigan in Pictures.

Clouds over Grand Rapids

Untitled

Untitled, photo by photofrenzy2000

An amazing shot of Michigan’s second largest city.

Check it out bigger and see more including some more incredible cloud shots in Gary’s slideshow.

More Grand Rapids on Michigan in Pictures.