UP TV-6 shares that the Mackinac Bridge Authority is expecting about 20,000 crossings of the bridge this weekend, about the same as 2021. Whether you’re traveling or staying put this weekend, I hope you have a good one & remember those who have put their lives on the line for this country.
The United States Congress designated the Round Island Wilderness in 1987 and it now has a total of 375 acres.
All of Round Island has been designated wilderness except one acre on the northern tip, a sand and cobblestone spit where the lighthouse stands. There has been no logging on the island since the turn-of-the-century. There are no docks, roads, or developed hiking trails on the island. Access is by boat in the summer and over ice in the winter. Several historic and prehistoric sites exist on the island.
…The “Michigan rattler”, massausauga has been rumored to reside on the island. You may see whitetail deer, raccoon, red squirrel, fox, rabbit, and an occasional black bear on the island; as well as a variety of songbirds and waterfowl. Trout, pike, salmon, and other freshwater fish are found in the lake waters around the island. While the island is removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it is close enough that you can see busy Mackinac Island and the mainland lights.
Round Island Lighthouse was constructed in 1895 at a cost of $15,000 by Frank Rounds, a carpenter from Detroit. Rounds had previously worked on Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel, which was completed in 1887. The lighthouse was first lit on May 15th, 1896. It was commissioned under the U.S. Lighthouse Board, which became the United States Lighthouse Service in 1910. When it was first completed, the lighthouse was brick red. This would remain so until it was painted red and white in 1924. The fog signal at the lighthouse was installed in the fall of 1896. William Marshall was the first keeper of the lighthouse and served until 1906.
The beacon was automated in 1924 and became the responsibility of the United States Coast Guard in 1939, when the Coast Guard took over all of the nation’s lighthouses. To support World War II efforts, most of the original machinery on the first floor was removed for scrap. The structure was whitewashed in 1939.
When an automated light was constructed off the shore of Mackinac Island in 1947, the Coast Guard abandoned and decommissioned Round Island Lighthouse. A few years later, becoming tired of maintenance on the unused structure, the Coast Guard recommended that the lighthouse be demolished. Luckily the lighthouse was transferred to Hiawatha National Forest in 1958 and saved from its fate of destruction. For more information on the Hiawatha National Forest, visit the United States Forest Service website.
Since the lighthouse was abandoned, the lighthouse was a target for vandals. Also, without upkeep, the outside was feeling the effects of the Great Lakes and was starting to deteriorate away. On October 20th, 1972, a fierce storm knocked down part of the southwestern corner of the lighthouse. If it wasn’t for local preservationists, the lighthouse would have met its end.
Bill took this photo 21 years ago on September 21, 1995! It shows the Star Line Ferry’sNicolet speeding past the Round Island Lighthouse. Star Line explains:
Star Line Ferry was started by Tom Pfeiffelmann, Sam McIntire, and others in the late 1970s. They purchased Argosy Boat Line. The company was then renamed Star Line after the 5 original stockholders making up a 5 pointed star. At that time they operated slower ferries including the Nicolet, Treasure Islander and Flamingo.
In 1979 Star Line bought their first fast ferry, Marquette. Over the next few years the old LaSalle and Nicolet were replaced with sisters to the Marquette. In 1987 Star Line decided to take it up a notch with Radisson, an 85-foot fast ferry which was modeled after a luxury yacht.
The Grand Hotel opened on Mackinac Island in the summer of 1887. At 660 feet, Grand Hotel’s Front Porch is the world’s largest. They note that early on the porch became the principal meeting place for all of Mackinac Island, a promenade for the elderly, and a “Flirtation Walk” for island romantics. Their History photo gallery has a couple of cool photos of the porch from back in the day.
“There is a pipeline that‘s sitting at the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. It was designed for a 50 year life and it’s been down there for 63 years. There’s a risk involved in this.” -Mark Shriberg, National Wildlife Federation
Up to 152 miles (245 km) of coastline in lakes Huron and Michigan could be fouled by a single oil spill at the straits, according to the simulations. When all 840 simulated spills are plotted on a map, a total of 720 miles (1,162 km) of shoreline in the U.S. and Canada are considered potentially vulnerable to spills that would require cleanup. Seven hundred twenty miles is roughly the distance from Detroit to Atlanta.
Areas at highest risk include Mackinac and Bois Blanc islands, as well as locations directly east and west of Mackinaw City. Communities also at risk include Beaver Island, Cross Village, Harbor Springs, Cheboygan and other places along the lakes Huron-Michigan shoreline.
…”Until now, no one knew exactly how much shoreline was vulnerable to spills in the Straits of Mackinac,” said Schwab, a research scientist at the U-M Water Center. “These findings show that under the right conditions, a spill in the Straits of Mackinac could affect a significant amount of shoreline and open-water areas in either Lake Michigan or Lake Huron, or both, very quickly.”
We had been out to the island and were returning via ferry when the captain announced a slight detour in our route. There was some kind of a special group aboard and as a treat, our boat went under the Mighty Mac, something they hardly ever do. It was pretty neat. The five mile long bridge is no longer the longest suspension bridge in the world, but to me it’s still the prettiest. I’ve personally seen several other suspension bridges, including the Golden Gate, and I’ll pick the Mac every time.