#TBT Miners Castle Loses a Turret

Freezing, photo by Lars Jensen

Here’s a throwback Thursday post with an article originally published April 14, 2006 on Absolute Michigan…

The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore reports that one of the two turrets on Miner’s Castle is no more:

On Thursday morning, April 13, 2006, the northeast turret of Miners Castle collapsed. One turret remains on Miners Castle, the best-known feature of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The collapse was reported via cell phone by fisherman in the area, according to chief ranger Larry Hach.Most of the rock fell north and into Lake Superior, and there were no injuries. The lower overlook platform near Miners Castle appears to be unaffected.

While the rockfall at Miners Castle on April 13 was startling, such events are not rare along the Pictured Rocks escarpment. At least five major falls have occurred over the past dozen years: 1) two different portions of Grand Portal Point, 2) the eastern side of Indian Head just east of Grand Portal Point, 3) Miners Falls just below the (now modified) viewing platform, and 4) beneath the lip of Munising Falls (along the former trail that went behind the cascade).

All the rockfalls involved the same rock unit, the Miners Castle Member of the Munising Formation. Rock units are named for places where they were first technically described. The Miners Castle Member consists of crumbly cross-bedded sandstone that is poorly cemented by secondary quartz, according to U.S. Geological Survey Research Ecologist Walter Loope.

More from Lars in his Michigan album.

Miner’s Castle, before it fell

Miner's Castle before it fell

Miner’s Castle before it fell, photo by spauldi1

Today is the 10th anniversary of the collapse of one of the turrets on the Miner’s Castle formation in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

On Thursday morning, April 13, 2006, the northeast turret of Miners Castle collapsed. One turret remains on Miners Castle, the best-known feature of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The collapse was reported via cell phone by fisherman in the area, according to chief ranger Larry Hach. Most of the rock fell north and into Lake Superior, and there were no injuries. The lower overlook platform near Miners Castle appears to be unaffected.

While the rockfall at Miners Castle on April 13 was startling, such events are not rare along the Pictured Rocks escarpment.

Click for the full report on Absolute Michigan.

Sue took this back in 2003. View it background big and jump into her slideshow for more pics from “before the fall”at Miner’s Castle.

The Night’s Watch

The Nights Watch

The Night’s Watch, photo by Jiqing Fan

Of this stunning photo from back in October at Miners Castle in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Jiqing Fan writes:

Winter is coming! The night’s watch of the North guard the last bit of colors against the white walkers (snow storm) approaching.

It appears that the Watch did its job and turned back winter 2016! View his photo bigger and see more in his Houghton & UP MI slideshow.

Lots more about Miners Castle on Michigan in Pictures!

#TBT: Atop Miners Castle

Atop Miners Castle

Atop Miners Castle, photo by Roger Dinda

On April 13, 2006 one of the most recognizable rock formations in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Miners Castle collapsed. The Lakeshore explains:

On Thursday morning, April 13, 2006, the northeast turret of Miners Castle collapsed. One turret remains on Miners Castle, the best-known feature of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The collapse was reported via cell phone by fisherman in the area, according to chief ranger Larry Hach. Most of the rock fell north and into Lake Superior, and there were no injuries. The lower overlook platform near Miners Castle appears to be unaffected.

While the rockfall at Miners Castle on April 13 was startling, such events are not rare along the Pictured Rocks escarpment. At least five major falls have occurred over the past dozen years: 1) two different portions of Grand Portal Point, 2) the eastern side of Indian Head just east of Grand Portal Point, 3) Miners Falls just below the (now modified) viewing platform, and 4) beneath the lip of Munising Falls (along the former trail that went behind the cascade).

All the rockfalls involved the same rock unit, the Miners Castle Member of the Munising Formation. Rock units are named for places where they were first technically described. The Miners Castle Member consists of crumbly cross-bedded sandstone that is poorly cemented by secondary quartz, according to U.S. Geological Survey Research Ecologist Walter Loope.

Rockfalls along the cliffs typically occur in the spring and fall due to freezing and thawing action of Mother Nature.

Joel says that this photo was taken Roger Dinda in 1961 or ’62 “…before Pictured Rocks was a National Lakeshore, before Miners Castle lost its second turret, before they put up the boardwalks and railings. In this photo I’m just as tense as I look. I am deathly afraid of heights and this was (still is) about the scariest place I’ve ever been.”

View his photo background big more in his Lake Superior slideshow.

There’s more Throwback Thursdays, more Miners Castle & more from the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Michigan in Pictures!

Miners Castle, with ice and kayaks

Miners Castle, with ice and kayaks

Miners Castle, with ice and kayaks, photo by Ann Fisher

The Washington Post has a feature on Lake Superior’s stubborn ice cover:

As of Memorial Day, ice covered 4.5 percent of Lake Superior according to NOAA, and 1.7 percent of the Great Lakes overall (though Superior is the only lake with remaining ice). The recent Great Lakes ice cover is unrivaled in records dating back to the early 1970s.

Ice cover the Great Lakes has been way above normal and, at times record-setting, for months.

In early March this year, the Great Lakes ice extent reached 94.19%, the second most on record for any month, dating back to 1973 in NOAA’s dataset, and most on record so late in the season. In late April, ice still covered nearly one-third of the Great Lakes, the most on record by a large margin so late into spring.

Click through for some photos of people enjoying the ice.

Ann took this last weekend at Miners Castle in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. How cold is that water right now? Michigan Sea Grant’s Coastwatch for the central UP shore of Lake Superior recorded a balmy 36.7 degrees on May 25th!!

View Ann’s photo big as Lake Superior and see more in her 2014 U.P. slideshow.

There’s more Miners Castle and more Lake Superior wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Winter won’t leave Lake Superior

Wintry Sunrise from Pictured Rocks by Lake Superior Photo

Wintry Sunrise from Pictured Rocks, photo by Lake Superior Photo

Normally ice would be gone or nearly gone from Superior and the other Great Lakes, but as the Freep reported:

Heading into May, the Great Lakes combined remain 26% ice-covered, with Lake Superior still more than half-blanketed in ice. By comparison, at this time last spring the lakes were less than 2% covered with ice.

The remaining levels of ice cover are amazing, said Jia Wang, an ice climatologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor.

“This prolonged winter will affect summer temperatures. This summer will be cold, and then a cooler fall,” he said.

In addition to wreaking havoc on the Great Lakes shipping industry and impacting fish and other aquatic species, the miles of ice cover serve as a vast, white reflector.

“All that sunlight that would normally heat up the water is just bouncing back up into space,” said Jay Austin, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Large Lakes Observatory, who agrees with Wang about the ice cover’s impacts on this summer, but disagrees about its potential impacts on weather beyond that.

Read on for more. About the photo, Shawn of Lake Superior photo writes:

A wonderful wintry sunrise from Pictured Rocks this morning…. ok I’m going to go cry now

The lake was still (of course, with ice that’s feet thick as far as the eye can see..) but a new sound, you could hear the waterfalls, prob Miners Falls in the distance.. so cool

View Shawn’s photo big as our biggest lake on Facebook, see another shot of the wintry expanse from Miner’s Castle and definitely follow her photos as “spring” unfolds in the North Country at the Lake Superior Photo Facebook along with 30,000+ others and purchase photos at lakesuperiorphoto.com!

Pictured Blue: Miner’s Castle in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Blue

Pictured Blue, photo by Kiiraaan

View this jaw-dropping photo of Miner’s Castle bigger and see more in Kiran’s Landscape slideshow.

The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore’s Geology Field Notes page has this barely comprehensible stuff to say about Miner’s Castle:

The Miners Castle Member is a soft, crumbly, quartz sandstone (with abundant garnet content) about 140 feet thick; its complete section is exposed in the Pictured Rocks Cliffs between Sand Point and Miners Castle. Sediments of this member are generally poorly sorted.

Capping the easily eroded Miners Castle Member of the Munising Formation in the western half of Pictured Rocks, is the resistant Early Ordovician (480-500 million years old) Au Train formation. The Au Train Formation is a light brown to white dolomitic sandstone that forms the resistant cap to the underlying softer sandstones. The numerous falls in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore are the result of this caprock.

Read on for much more about the geology of Pictured Rocks. Erosion is indeed a factor with one of the most visible instances being April 13, 2006, when one of the pillars of Miner’s Castle collapsed.

You can see more of Pictured Rocks from Absolute Michigan and at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore web site.