Michigan has 3,288 miles of coastal shoreline, more than any other state except Alaska, and this weekend is the perfect time to get yourself to the Great Lakes coast before summer is gone!
Kate took this photo earlier in August. See more on her Flickr!
PS: With 1640 miles of shoreline, Lake Michigan has just about half of that coastline! See much more of Lake Michigan on Michigan in Pictures!
Terry Pepper was almost certainly the greatest champion ever for the lighthouses of the Great Lakes. Although he passed in 2019, his Seeing the Light website remains as a fantastic resource for the lighthouses of the western Great Lakes. The White Shoal Lighthouse entry says (in part, because these are VERY thorough):
Located approximately 20 miles east of Mackinac Point and 2.6 miles northwest of Waugoshance Island, the shallows around White Shoal had long presented a hazard for vessels entering the Straits from the either the North Shore or the Manitou Passage. Lying in an east/west orientation, and almost two miles long, the shoal was so shallow that its west end broke the water’s surface. With the dramatic increase in vessel traffic in the late 1880’s, the Lighthouse Board specifically identified White Shoal, Simmons Reef and Gray’s Reef as three Straits-area navigational hazards requiring immediate demarcation.
…Spring of 1908 saw work begin on the White Shoal light on two separate fronts. While a crew at the site leveled a one hundred and two-foot square area on the shoal through the addition and careful placement of loads of stone, a second crew worked on building a timber crib on shore at St. Ignace. Seventy-two feet square and eighteen and a half feet high, the huge crib contained 400,000 square feet of lumber, and on completion was slowly towed out to the shoal and centered over the leveled lake bottom. Once in location, the crib was filled with 4,000 tons of stone until it sank to a point at which its’ uppermost surface was level and two feet below the water’s surface.
…As work on the tower continued, the nine decks took shape within the tower. The first deck mechanical room housed the oil engine powered fog signal, heating plant, and storage for the station’s powerboat. The second deck housed a tool room, bathroom and food storage area. A kitchen, living room and one bedroom made up the third deck, with two more bedrooms and a toilet located on the fourth. A living area and another bedroom were found on the fifth deck, and the sixth and seventh contained a single open room on each. The service room made up the eighth level, and the watchroom topped the living quarters on the ninth.
Work at the station continued through the end of the shipping season in 1909, when once again the station was abandoned until work could resume with the receding ice in the spring of 1910.
Work crews returned to the station on the opening of the 1910 navigation season, and the the tower was capped with a circular watch room and lantern room, both of twelve and a half feet in diameter. The aluminum lantern featured helical astragals, which the Board had recently begun incorporating in new construction, since it was believed that they offered less light interference than the vertical astragals that had been prevalently used for the past sixty years. As construction of the tower wound to completion, the entire structure from the crib deck to lantern ventilator was given a coat of bright white paint, designed to improves the structure’s visibility during daylight hours.
More from Seeing the Light & definitely check out the tribute to Terry Pepper from the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.
Joel took this photo from Shepler’s ferry Hope during a Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association lighthouse cruise in June of 2014. See more in his Lighthouse Cruise 6/16/2014 gallery on Flickr.
This shot was taken at one of my favorite places for photos, the lighthouse in Charlevoix Michigan along Lake Michigan. This is a case of perfect time and place.
Indeed!! Hope you get some of those “perfect time & place” moments this weekend & this summer.
Check out more stunning shots in TP’s Explored gallery on Flickr.
Michigan is lucky to play host to both dark sky preserves and parks that offer stellar celestial landscapes. These locations are specially designated because they have qualities that complement nighttime viewing, such as the ability to limit the amount of artificial light. There are also plenty of excellent night-sky viewing opportunities across more than 15,000 square miles in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Diana took this photo earlier in May & you can see more in her Night Photography gallery on Flickr.
More great night photography on Michigan in Pictures!
Michigan Trail Maps says that Grand Mere State Park:
…is a 985-acre unit in Berrien County that lacks the amenities found in most other state parks along Lake Michigan, including a campground and even direct access to its mile of Lake Michigan shoreline. It attracts only a fraction of the visitors that flock to parks such as Warren Dunes or Hoffmaster. Yet from a naturalist’s point of view Grand Mere is one of the most inquiring set of dunes in the state, an area so ecologically diverse that it 1976 it was designated a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Congress.
The glaciers that scooped out the Great Lakes 10,000 years ago also carved out a number of smaller depressions along the western edge of the state, which evolved into interdunal lakes, ponds, and wetlands. At one time, this area contained a chain of five such lakes that were protected ecologically by a line of windblown sand dunes between them and Lake Michigan. Now there are only three, a result of aquatic succession. Today Grand Mere is a textbook example of the various stages of succession from aquatic communities to terrestrial. Beginning at North Lake, you can see how each lake is progressively disappearing, with open water first turning into marsh and then woodland swamps and closed bog forests, the fate of the former two lakes that lie south of the park.
Almost 4 miles of trails form a loop through open dunes and the wooded areas of the park, but the only designated trail is a half-mile Nature Trail. The paved, handicapped accessible trail extends from the picnic shelter around South Lake, passing 10 interpretive posts that correspond to back of the park map. The rest of the trails are neither posted nor maintained. The most distinguishable trail extends almost a mile from a small parking area off Wishart Road to the west end of the Nature Trail.
Mark took this photo a couple months ago & you can see more in his Spring gallery on Flickr.
My company recently completed a new website for the Fox Island Lighthouse Association. Their website explains:
The South Fox Light Station is located 22 miles offshore in NW Lake Michigan, south of Beaver Island and north of the Manitous. The 115 acres of MI state-owned land has much to offer, with seven original structures still standing and acres of pristine dune and wildlife; it is one of the most unique stations on Lake Michigan. The original tower was lit in 1867; the fog signal and oil house were built in 1895. The Workshop and Boat House were built in 1897. In 1934, the 68’ steel skeletal tower was brought from Sapelo Island, GA and reassembled on the island (automated in 1958). The two-story Assistant Keepers Quarters was added in 1910. The station was decommissioned in 1969.
In 1971, the State of Michigan bought the station from the Department of the Interior with a promise to provide recreational opportunity and access to the public.
You can head over to their website for information & photos about the station, its structures, and how you can help them with their work.
Diver/photographer Dusty Klifman of Blueyes Below, provided some photos for the website & the cool drone footage. Check him out for lots more photos & videos of shipwrecks & other maritime subjects.
We’re getting to the portion of the winter where the ice begins to build out on the Great Lakes. As a person who grew up on Lake Michigan, I’ve enjoyed the ice safely for decades & will undoubtedly continue to do so and also to share photos of the incredible beauty of the frozen lakes. I want to make sure however that folks understand venturing on the ice in winter can be deadly, particularly if you don’t take precautions. Though EMT workers know this and train to help people in peril, if you fall into one of the Great Lakes, you will very probably die. You can read more of my thoughts on this post on Michigan in Pictures.
Bill took this last weekend in South Haven & writes:
It’s 16 degrees at the beach – this is what the cool kids are wearing on South Beach, South Haven. These three are with the South Haven Area Fire-Rescue-EMS and were out to practice a little cold-water rescue, ‘cuz, unfortunately, someone is gonna need it sooner or later.
The Traverse City Ticker reports that with less than 2% ice coverage so far, the Great Lakes are experiencing record low ice cover this winter:
According to Dr. Jia Wang, a research ice climatologist and physical oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, the Great Lakes region is experiencing “warmer-than-usual weather” this season due to a combination of weather patterns including strong La Niña conditions. As a result, the maximum ice cover on the Great Lakes is only projected to reach 30 percent this year, Wang says – “way below” the average of 53 percent. Lake Michigan is expected to reach a maximum ice cover of just 23 percent, compared to an average 40 percent.
The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay has records for nearly two centuries on the freeze rate of West Grand Traverse Bay, including when it reaches the freeze point each year (if at all) and how many days it stays frozen over. While the Great Lakes often follow cyclical patterns, data shows that trends appear to be intensifying in recent years – a result many scientists attribute to climate change and include categories like water levels and ice cover. That trend can also be seen in Grand Traverse Bay freeze records, according to Watershed Center Executive Director Christine Crissman.
“If you look at the last 170 years overall, the bay definitely freezes over a majority of the time,” she says. “But if you start looking more closely at recent years, we are seeing a trend of less ice cover. From 1980 to present, the bay has only frozen over 38 percent of the time. Before 1980, it was 84 percent of the time. And even when it does freeze now, it doesn’t tend to freeze as long as it used to. It might be 20 to 40 days, where it used to be 70 days, 116 days.”
Charles took this photo back in 2015 off Gills Pier on the Leelanau Peninsula. Head over to his Flickr for more!