Remembering Greg Reisig, a champion of the Great Lakes

A Changeable Day on the Lake by Mark Smith

A Changeable Day on the Lake by Mark Smith

This week I lost a friend & mentor, Greg Reisig. Greg was my publisher back in the 90s when I wrote for his Lake Country Gazette out of Elk Rapids. He was a man with an amazingly gentle soul who could nonetheless be fierce & determined in defense of Michigan’s environment. Bill Latka of Oil & Water Don’t Mix penned a great tribute to Greg, who was a  board member of that organization & the co-chair of the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC):

Since his early days as an environmental journalist and then for decades as a key protector of trees, water, and air for all of northern Michigan with NMEAC, Greg was a fearless yet gentle champion for the environment.

NMEAC has set up an endowment fund to create The Greg Reisig Prize for Environmental Journalism to celebrate his accomplishments. If you value the work that Oil & Water Don’t Mix is doing, you should know that Greg was a key part of it. I invite you to contribute to fund the award so that future generations will know how much he made a difference every day.

His support of the campaign to shut down Line 5 brought a kind focus and keen sense of optimism for the work that kept us all going. He will be dearly missed.

Amen.

Mark took this photo last October at the the Wilcox-Palmer-Shah Preserve just north of Elk Rapids. More from Mark at downstreamer on Flickr.

Island Dreams … North Manitou

via leelanau.com…

Clouds over North Manitou Island by Mary Westbrook

Here’s a simply stunning shot of North Manitou Island off the Leelanau Peninsula at the beginning of August.  Leelanau.com says that North Manitou Island:

…is managed as wilderness with the exception of a 27 acre area around the Village. Visiting the island is a primitive experience emphasizing solitude, a feeling of self-reliance and a sense of exploration. The primary visitor activities are backpacking and camping. Travel in the wilderness area is by foot only. Power on the island is provided by a photovoltaic array located in the Village.

North Manitou Island is 7-3/4 miles long by 4-1/4 miles wide and has 20 miles of shoreline. The topography varies considerably on the island from low, sandy, open dune country on the southeast side grades to the high sand hills and blowout dunes on the southwest side of the island.

I’ll add that it’s a super cool place to visit!

Head over to the Traverse Area Camera Club on Facebook for more photos by Mary from an amazing day on Lake Michigan! More Michigan islands on Michigan in Pictures.

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Beautiful Day at Saugatuck Dunes State Park

Saugatuck Dunes State Park by Terry Zweering

Saugatuck Dunes State Park by Terry Zweering

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says that Saugatuck Dunes State Park offers:

…2.5 miles of secluded Lake Michigan shoreline and 1,000 acres of steep slopes, rolling hills and fresh water coastal dunes more than 200 feet tall. The beach is a two-thirds mile hike from the picnic parking area.

The park’s major attraction are the long sandy beach and the 300-acre natural area, which contains a coastal dune system containing three endangered plant species. Nature enthusiasts, birdwatchers and hikers are the predominant day users.

The park, located in Allegan County, is relatively undeveloped. The land was acquired in 1971 from the Augustinian Order, who used the buildings as a seminary. When the state took ownership, the structures were used as a prison and state police offices.

More from the DNR & also check out the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance for more on the natural & human history as well as species found here.

Terry says that this is one of her favorite places to hike and hang out. See lots more pics in her Saugatuck Dunes album on Flickr.

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Ride the Wave

Ride the Wave by Julie

Julie writes:

Sunday evening the winds picked up and we rode down to the pier and I watched this boat come from the harbor out the channel and head towards Petoskey north. He hit some huge waves coming in and I don’t know how he ever made it.

Here’s hoping he did and that you’re able to overcome the waves of 2020 as well!! See more in Julie’s Coronavirus Times 2020 album on Flickr.

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Dune Days at Sleeping Bear

Dune Days by Mark Smith

Mark took this beautiful photo a couple of summers ago on the Treat Farm Trail in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Guessing it looks much the same today, but you should check it out just to be sure! 😉

Head over to Mark’s Flickr for more & here’s the Park’s writeup on the trail:

The trail that leads from the corner of Norconk Road into the woods is about ½ mile long through the maple-beech forest and will take you to the Treat Farm. As you reach the top of the hill, the canopy of trees opens up to a view of the farmstead. A portion of the original barn has been rebuilt on the original foundation.

Visitors are drawn to this intriguing farmstead for several reasons. The trail leading up the slight incline from Norconk Road holds an allure of its own… it seems to beckon passers-by. It piques the curiosity by conjuring visions of what might be at its terminus. It is also one of the most beautiful areas for spring wildflowers in all of Michigan!

Click for trail map & check out more great Michigan trails on Michigan in Pictures.

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Michigan’s Island King: James Jesse Strang

Flight from Beaver Island by Andy Farmer

Flight from Beaver Island by Andy Farmer

On July 8th, 1850, James Jesse Strang was crowned king of Beaver Island. Michigan History Magazine shared this article with me years ago:

Despite claiming to be “the perfect atheist,” Strang became a follower of Mormon leader Joseph Smith. When Smith was murdered in March 1844, Strang claimed to be the new Mormon leader, although most Mormons followed Brigham Young to Utah.

King James Strang daguerreotype 1856
King James Strang (daguerreotype, 1856)

Strang’s followers settled on an uninhabited island in northern Lake Michigan they called Big Beaver. The island had everything Strang and his followers needed: virgin timber, tillable land, a deep and sheltered bay and exceptional offshore fishing. It also was twenty-five miles off the mainland-a perfect place to protect Strang’s followers from outside influences and beliefs.

By the mid-1850s, the Mormon colony on Beaver Island boasted more than 2,500 followers. Beaver Island replaced Mackinac Island as the principal refueling stop for steamers, and the annual value of the kingdom’s exports (fish, wood and potatoes) was considerable.

The growth of Strang’s kingdom was not without controversy. Non-Mormons, called Gentiles, took exception with the Mormon settlement. Driven from the area’s fishing spots, angry over the establishment of a kingdom and Strang’s adoption of the practice of polygamy, the Gentiles vowed revenge. At the bequest of President Millard Fillmore, the U.S. district attorney prosecuted Strang for an assortment of unfounded offenses that included murder and treason. However, Strang was acquitted on all charges, and a year later he was overwhelmingly elected to the state legislature.

Strang ruled Beaver Island as an autocrat; he even had himself crowned king. But regulating every aspect of his followers’ lives led to his downfall. Describing women’s clothes as impractical and unhealthy, Strang decreed female subjects needed to dress in loose, knee-length smocks worn over modest pantaloons. Most Beaver Island women accepted the change, but a few refused to comply. When two women refused to wear pantaloons, Strang had their husbands whipped. The two men sought revenge and on June 16, 1856, they ambushed and shot their king.

On July 9, 1856, James Jesse Strang died from his wounds. He was buried in Wisconsin.

With Strang gone, enraged Gentiles charged onto Beaver Island and evicted the Mormons. After taking control of the Mormon printing office, the attackers printed a manifesto that boasted, “The dominion of King Strang is at an end.”

Andy took this back in 2016. See a lot more in his great Beaver Island, MI album on Flickr!

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Heading down to the beach on Warren Dunes

Heading down to the beach - Warren Dunes by Mark Swanson

Heading down to the beach – Explore by Mark Swanson

Pure Michigan says that Warren Dunes State Park:

…provides 1,952 acres of recreational opportunities along the beautiful shore of Lake Michigan in southwestern Michigan. The rugged dune formation rises 260 feet above the lake and offers spectacular views and excellent for hang gliding. The park has three miles of shoreline, six miles of hiking trails and is open year-round. Pet-friendly shoreline.

Wikipedia adds that:

The dunes and beach area was preserved by a local businessman, Edward K. Warren, who originally purchased the site as a favor to a friend who had encountered significant financial difficulties. By 1930, the Warren Dunes area had been taken over as a state park

Head over to the Warren Dunes State Park website for trail maps, camping reservations & more.

Mark took this photo last weekend. See more in his June 2020 gallery.

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Electric & Perfectly Hectic

Electric & Perfectly Hectic by Snap Happy Gal

Electric & Perfectly Hectic by Snap Happy Gal

Heather says it was electric, and perfectly hectic which seems to me to be an apt description for Michigan’s wild 2020 ride.

See it bigger on her Facebook and definitely follow Snap Happy Gal Photography on Facebook and Instagram for more!

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An easy ride at Little Sable Point Lighthouse

Little Sable Point Lighthouse by Kevin Povenz

Little Sable Point Lighthouse by Kevin Povenz

Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light has a bunch of information about the history of Little Sable Point Light:

Congress appropriated $35,000 for the project, and 39 acres of land were selected on which to construct the new Light station. The construction of a light at Little Point Sable was destined to be a daunting task, since the location was distant from any area of supply, and there was a total absence of roads to the site. Work began in April 1873 with the construction of a dock at the beach and temporary housing for the construction crew.

A pile driver was towed to the point, and in accordance with Poe’s plan, 109 one-foot diameter pilings were driven into the sand to a level nine feet below the surface in order to form a solid base on which to build the tower. Twelve feet of cut stone was then carefully laid atop the pilings to provide a solid base for the tower’s brickwork. The brick walls had a thickness of five feet at the base, tapering to a thickness of two feet at its uppermost. With the advent of winter, the crews were removed from the point, and work had to wait for the next spring.

…Being built of a particularly hard and durable type of brick, the decision was made to leave both the tower and ancillary structures in a natural, unpainted condition, since it was expected they would withstand the rigors of the weather without deterioration. This was no doubt a decision which sat well with Keeper Davenport, as painting was an activity in which the authorities held considerable stock, and he found himself in the enviable position of not having that millstone around his neck every year!

…It did not take long before mariners began complaining that the natural brick coloration made the tower difficult to see during daylight hours. As a result, the tower was painted white on September 24, 1900, and thereafter, keepers assigned to the tower would be stuck with the drudgery of the annual painting ritual.

…With the station unmanned, the Coast Guard began to see the ancillary buildings as a liability, and in the first half of 1955 a crew arrived at the station and demolished everything but the tower.

The tower remained in its white painted condition until 1977, when once again seizing the opportunity to reduce the ongoing maintenance costs associated with constant painting, a crew arrived at the station, and sandblasted the tower. Once again, James Davenport’s easy ride was exposed to the light of day!

More from Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light.

Kevin took this back in July of 2016. See many more great shots in his Lighthouse gallery.

More Michigan lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures.

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Sunset Sunday from Fishtown

Fishtown Sunset by Gary Ennis

The folks @PureMichigan on Twitter thought that this photo of a summer sunset in Leland’s Fishtown by Gary Ennis was a perfect fit for their #SunsetSunday hashtag! I can’t help but agree!!

If you’ve got a soft spot in your heart for this historical treasure, I urge you to check out the Fishtown Preservation Association’s Campaign for Fishtown to raise the funds to resolve critical infrastructure and drainage issues & rehabilitate three shanties: The Village Cheese Shanty, Carlson’s Fishery and the Morris Shanty as well as to replace all docks,  address accessibility, and other site issues. The high water has exacerbated an already desperate situation – click through to see how you can help!

You can follow Gary on his Instagram for more great shots!