Riding out the storm on Poe Reef Lightship

Poe Reef Lightship LV62 riding out a storm on her station

Poe Reef lies just eight feet beneath Lake Huron’s surface between Bois Blanc Island and the Lower Peninsula mainland. Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light shares the story of Poe Reef Lightship LV62, launched on this day in 1893:

In 1892 two contracts totaling $55,960 were awarded to the Craig Shipbuilding Company in Toledo for the construction of four lightships. Designated as Lightships LV59, LV60, LV61 and LV62, all four vessels were built to similar specifications. Framed and planked of white oak they measured 87′ 2″ inches in length, 21′ 6″ inches in the beam, with a draft of 8 feet. In a cost-cutting effort, the vessels were un-powered, outfitted with only a small riding sail carried on a short after mast. Equipped with a cluster of three oil-burning lens lanterns hoisted on their foremasts, each was also equipped with 6″ steam whistles and hand-operated bells for fog use. Work was completed on the four vessels the following year, and after sea trials, all four were commissioned by the Board and placed into service, LV59 being assigned to Bar Point, LV60 to Eleven Foot Shoal, LV61 to Corsica Shoal and LV62 to Poe Reef.

With the words POE REEF brightly painted in white on her fire engine red hull, LV62 was towed to Poe Reef by the lighthouse tender Marigold, and anchored on station to begin her vigil on September 29, 1893. For the next seventeen years LV62 spent every shipping season faithfully guarding the shoal. With the end of each shipping season, one of the lighthouse tenders would make the rounds of all lightship stations in the Straits area, and tow them into Cheboygan harbor for winter lay-up. While in Cheboygan, necessary repairs and improvements would be made in preparation for the following season. At some time in March or April, the ice would break up sufficiently to allow the vessels to be towed back to their stations to stand guard for yet another season.

Head over to Seeing the Light for more about Poe Reef Lighthouse & the stories of all Michigan’s lighthouses compiled by a champion for their preservation who has gone too soon.

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Happy Birthday, St Helena

St Helena Light by Joel Dinda

St Helena Light by Joel Dinda

On September 20th way back in 1873, the beacon of the the St. Helena Island Lighthouse was lit for the first time. CMU’s Clarke Historical Library explains:

Because several ships had been wrecked on the dangerous shoals near the island of St. Helena in 1872, Congress authorized construction of a lighthouse at the southeast tip of the island. Since September 20, 1873, the beacon of the St. Helena Lighthouse has helped guide vessels safely through the Straits of Mackinac.

The light was first automated in 1922 and the modern lighthouse uses solar batteries to power the light.

In 1988, the lighthouse was added to the national Register of Historic Places. Recently restored to excellent condition by the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, the St. Helena Island Lighthouse continues to light up the Straights and provide a glimpse of the golden age of the Great Lakes’ lights.

Definitely check the Clarke Historical Library out – some great Michigan history there for sure!

Joel took this photo back in 2014 on a Lighthouse Cruise with Shepler Ferry / Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association. See more shots in his Lighthouse Cruise 6/16/2014 gallery.

More lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures!

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The Age of Wooden Boats at Presque Isle Harbor

Presque Isle Harbor by John Hart

Presque Isle Harbor by John Hart

There’s some names that you see again & again in Michigan. One of these is “Presque Isle”. It means “almost island” in French so you can see why Michigan’s peninsula right coastline brought that to the minds of early French traders.

The US 23 Heritage Route shares that Presque Isle Harbor offers the only natural harbor on Lake Huron with a new marina offering water, restrooms, showers, diesel, electricity, pump-out, gasoline, launch, fishing pier, dog run, grills, and the Portage Restaurant. The Old Presque Isle Lighthouse is a short walk up the path.

Check out the US-23 Heritage Route for more great summer touring options along this northeast Michigan highway!

John shared this cool photo of Presque Isle Harbor during the age of wooden boats. Check out his mix of old & new pics on his Flickr.

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Aqua Ice

Aqua Ice by Charles Bonham

Aqua Ice by Charles Bonham

There hasn’t been much in the way of ice buildup yet on Michigan’s Great Lakes so far in 2021, so I decided to reach back a couple of years to March of 2019 for this beauty from Au Gres on Lake Huron. The Causes of Color answers the question what causes the blue color that sometimes appears in snow and ice?

As with water, this color is caused by the absorption of both red and yellow light (leaving light at the blue end of the visible light spectrum). The absorption spectrum of ice is similar to that of water, except that hydrogen bonding causes all peaks to shift to lower energy – making the color greener. This effect is augmented by scattering within snow, which causes the light to travel an indirect path, providing more opportunity for absorption. From the surface, snow and ice present a uniformly white face. This is because almost all of the visible light striking the snow or ice surface is reflected back, without any preference for a single color within the visible spectrum.

The situation is different for light that is not reflected, but penetrates or is transmitted into the snow. As this light travels into the snow or ice, the ice grains scatter a large amount of light. If the light is to travel over any distance it must survive many such scattering events. In other words, it must keep scattering and not be absorbed. We usually see the light coming back from the near surface layers (less than 1 cm) after it has been scattered or bounced off other snow grains only a few times, and it still appears white.

In simplest of terms, think of the ice or snow layer as a filter. If it is only a centimeter thick, all the light makes it through; if it is a meter thick, mostly blue light makes it through. This is similar to the way coffee often appears light when poured, but much darker when it is in a cup.

Definitely check out more in Charles’ excellent Michigan Winter Ice gallery on Flickr.

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Restore Your Spirit on Michigan’s Beaches!

Lisa Flaska Erickson Photography

Restore Your Spirit by Lisa Flaska Erickson Photography

“Take time in a place you love, restore your spirit on the beach.”
~Luanne Rice

An excellent piece of advice, particularly in these dark times. Fortunately, all of Michigan’s Great Lakes beaches are open to the public for walking by law, and you are never more 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes!

Lisa took this photo on Lake Huron on the beach by 40 Mile Point Lighthouse. For more pics, follow her on Facebook or on her Instagram @supqueen.

PS: If you want to “virtually restore” check out many more Michigan beaches on Michigan in Pictures.

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The Wreck of The Nordmeer

Wreck of the Nordmeer by Chris Roxburgh

Wreck of the Nordmeer by Chris Roxburgh

The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary page on the 471′ cargo freighter Nordmeer that wrecked in 1966 in Thunder Bay says:

The career of the motorship Nordmeer ended abruptly when it miscalculated a turn and ran aground 7 miles northeast of Thunder Bay Island. Some crewmen stayed on board, but they evacuated a few days later when a storm struck and tore open the ship’s bottom. Part of the vessel stands out of the water, but years of storms and ice have broken and twisted the hull. The big diesel engine stands amid the wreckage, but the cargo has been removed. A steel barge rests alongside the wreck, a relic of extensive salvage work. Some artifacts may be seen today at NOAA’s Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center.

Chris dove the wreck a week ago and writes: “Bea and I had a big day of diving in Lake Huron today. We visited three shipwrecks and can’t wait to share some photos. This picture is the engine from the Nordmeer shipwreck near Rockport Michigan.”

Definitely follow Chris’s adventures on Facebook & check out his videos YouTube!

Tons more Michigan shipwrecks on Michigan in Pictures!

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A Wave from Lake Huron

Lake Huron by Kare Hav

Lake Huron by Kare Hav

Gorgeous shot from the other day on Michigan’s east coast. See more in Karen’s dynamite Pt. Lookout/Au Gres gallery on Flickr & have a wonderful weekend!

More from Lake Huron on Michigan in Pictures.

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Turnip Rock in Clear Water

Turnip Rock in clear water by DjOOF

Turnip Rock in clear water by DjOOF

The excellent sunrise side blog Thumbwind explains that Turnip Rock in Lake Huron can only be reached by kayak or canoe & share some tips for would-be explorers:

Paddling to Turnip Rock is not hard. Located at the tip of the thumb, it’s about a four hour round trip from Port Austin. This small guide offers a local point of view to avoid problems with the local law enforcement and property owners while being able to enjoy a unique natural wonder.

Despite its uniqueness, this natural wonder is located in the Pointe Aux Barques Cottage Community and is private land. Thus the only way to access it is from the water. Fortunately, that can easily be achieved by canoe or kayak. This means that you can’t go feet dry. Stay in the water. The area around the rock is monitored and even the topic of an Instagram account. If you must get out of our kayak stay as close to the water’s edge as possible. (Unless its an emergency)

During the weekends the number of paddlers can get quite large. If the area around the rock is crowded consider paddling a few hundred yards past the rock and view the overhangs and cave features that border the Pointe Aux Barques community. During the late 1800s, the cave were hideouts for fugitives. It’s worth taking a few minutes to explore. You may be tempted to get out of your kayak and climb the rocks for a view. This is a no-no and there are several signs reminding not to trespass.

Read on for lots more, and if you happen to take any pictures, consider sharing them in our Michigan in Pictures Group on Facebook!

DjOOF writes that they made it past Turnip rock and captured this view on the way back. See more in their Google Nest Pics album on Flickr. Also check out their shot of one of the smuggler’s caves referred to above!

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American White Pelicans Expanding Michigan Range

American White Pelicans on Lake Huron by kare hav

American White Pelicans on Lake Huron by kare hav

The photographer writes that it’s hard to believe that there’s pelicans in Michigan, but here they are. In an in-depth Great Lakes Echo feature, Eric Freedman writes that American White Pelicans are expanding their breeding range in Michigan & North America:

The species “is undergoing a dramatic expansion of its breeding range in North America,” the study published in the journal Ontario Birds said. “The nesting on Lake Erie, so far from the colony sites in Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, seems unusual. Why such a large dispersal from the nearest breeding colony 550 km (340 miles) away?”

Now they’re spreading eastward.

…That distance “is and is not unusual,” said study co-author D.V. Chip Weseloh, a retired Great Lakes waterbird specialist with the Canadian Wildlife Service. “Pelicans are strange birds and will range far and wide hundreds of miles to feed,” a feat documented with radio transmitters.

With its 9-foot wingspan, the American white pelican is one of North America’s largest birds and feeds primarily on fish, according to the Audubon Society.

The overall population declined through the first half of the 1900s but has grown substantially since the 1970s. It’s protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List categorizes it as a species of least concern.

Lots more in the Echo!

View more in Kare Hav’s Pt. Lookout/Augres gallery on Flickr.

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Great Lakes on the Rise in 2020

Precarious by Mark Swanson

Precarious by Mark Swanson

mLive reports that the six-month water level forecasts show a high-end forecast that could surpass all other modern water levels for some of the Great Lakes:

For the last three months, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron (which shares the same lake water level because they are linked) have set monthly record water levels. The monthly record water levels are expected to continue into summer. If we get significantly higher than usual precipitation, the water levels could slosh over the highest level ever recorded since good water level measurements began back in 1918.

…The upper end of the possible outcomes would take Lake Michigan and Lake Huron 5 inches higher than October 1986, the highest water level recorded since records began in 1918. July or August of this coming summer would be the months that could happen.

That would be a devastating high-water level for cities and beaches along the Lake Michigan and Lake Huron shoreline.

Remember one inch of water on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron is 800 billion gallons of water. If this summer’s water level reaches that upper end, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron would have 4 trillion gallons more water than the highest water level recorded by in the fall of 1986.

Read on for more about Lakes Superior (probably not dangerously high) and Erie & Ontario (also likely to be dangerously high).

Mark took this in February near Stevensville on Lake Michigan. See more in his Final 60 album.

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