Up close with Michigan’s state stone: Hexagonaria percarinata, the Petoskey stone

Michigan State Stone Petoskey Stone

Untitled, photo by Anna Lysa

The Michigan Tech Geology Department explains that Michigan’s state stone is the Hexagonaria percarinata, the Petoskey stone. It is a fossil colonial coral that lived in the warm Michigan seas during the Devonian time around 350 million years ago. They can be found from Traverse City area across the state to Alpena in gravel pits, road beds, and of course beaches, with the largest concentration found on and around Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay near the town of Petoskey. In June of 1965 the Petoskey Stone was named Michigan’s official State Stone and Miss Ella Jane Petoskey, the only living grandchild of Chief Petoskey, attended the formal signing.

Several years ago I shared the story behind the name as told by a young woman I know, Rose Petoskey:

My name is Noozeen (Rose) Nimkiins (Little Thunder) Petoskey (Rising Sun) and I am Anishinaabek.

Many people would associate the word Petoskey with the souvenir stone found on the northern Lake Michigan shorelines. However, to my family, the word Petoskey represents much more than a souvenir.

In the Odawa language, the word Petoskey (Bii-daa-si-ga) means the rising sun, the day’s first light, or the sun’s first rays moving across the water. The Petoskey stone is a fossilized coral created by impressions made in limestone during the last Michigan ice age. These stones were named “Petoskey” because the impressions resembled the rising sun coming up over the water. Just as the image of the rising sun is implanted within the Petoskey stone, the archaeology of a person’s names is implanted within. All names within our Anishinaabek culture reflect an individual’s personal history. Rocks go deep, but names go much deeper to reveal the stories of the past.

View Anna Lysa’s photo bigger and see more in her Michigan slideshow.

Have a blast on New Year’s Eve!

Powerful Wave at Petoskey

Powerful Winds & Waves, photo by Julie

And please stay safe – the last way you want to start 2016 off is in jail or dead!

View Julie’s photo of the huge winds on December 24th exploding off the Petoskey breakwall bigger and see more in her Michigan slideshow.

The Indian Drum

petoskey-breakwall-wave

Petoskey Breakwall, photo by Julie A. Christiansen

Earlier this week I posted about The Crooked Tree. While August isn’t yet shipwreck season in Michigan, the post reminded me of the 1915 novel by William MacHarg & Edwin Balmer set in the same region called The Indian Drum. The whole book is available online at Project Gutenberg (hooray for free books!). It begins:

Near the northern end of Lake Michigan, where the bluff-bowed ore-carriers and the big, low-lying, wheat-laden steel freighters from Lake Superior push out from the Straits of Mackinac and dispute the right of way, in the island divided channel, with the white-and-gold, electric lighted, wireless equipped passenger steamers bound for Detroit and Buffalo, there is a copse of pine and hemlock back from the shingly beach. From this copse—dark, blue, primeval, silent at most times as when the Great Manitou ruled his inland waters—there comes at time of storm a sound like the booming of an old Indian drum. This drum beat, so the tradition says, whenever the lake took a life; and, as a sign perhaps that it is still the Manitou who rules the waters in spite of all the commerce of the cities, the drum still beats its roll for every ship lost on the lake, one beat for every life.

So—men say—they heard and counted the beatings of the drum to thirty-five upon the hour when, as afterward they learned, the great steel steamer Wenota sank with twenty-four of its crew and eleven passengers; so—men say—they heard the requiem of the five who went down with the schooner Grant; and of the seventeen lost with the Susan Hart; and so of a score of ships more. Once only, it is told, has the drum counted wrong.

At the height of the great storm of December, 1895, the drum beat the roll of a sinking ship. One, two, three—the hearers counted the drum beats, time and again, in their intermitted booming, to twenty-four. They waited, therefore, for report of a ship lost with twenty-four lives; no such news came. The new steel freighter Miwaka, on her maiden trip during the storm with twenty-five—not twenty-four—aboard never made her port; no news was ever heard from her; no wreckage ever was found. On this account, throughout the families whose fathers, brothers, and sons were the officers and crew of the Miwaka, there stirred for a time a desperate belief that one of the men on the Miwaka was saved; that somewhere, somehow, he was alive and might return. The day of the destruction of the Miwaka was fixed as December fifth by the time at which she passed the government lookout at the Straits; the hour was fixed as five o’clock in the morning only by the sounding of the drum.

The region, filled with Indian legend and with memories of wrecks, encourages such beliefs as this. To northward and to westward a half dozen warning lights—Ile-aux-Galets (“Skilligalee” the lake men call it), Waugaushance, Beaver, and Fox Islands—gleam spectrally where the bone-white shingle outcrops above the water, or blur ghostlike in the haze; on the dark knolls topping the glistening sand bluffs to northward, Chippewas and Ottawas, a century and a half ago, quarreled over the prisoners after the massacre at Fort Mackinac; to southward, where other hills frown down upon Little Traverse Bay, the black-robed priests in their chapel chant the same masses their predecessors chanted to the Indians of that time. So, whatever may be the origin of that drum, its meaning is not questioned by the forlorn descendants of those Indians, who now make beadwork and sweet-grass baskets for their summer trade, or by the more credulous of the white fishermen and farmers; men whose word on any other subject would receive unquestioning credence will tell you they have heard the drum.

Read on at Project Gutenberg.

Julie took this shot back in November of 2013. You can view it bigger, see more in her This & That slideshow and also check out this video from the day.

More Michigan shipwreck lore on Michigan in Pictures.

Legend of the Crooked Tree

The Crooked Tree Petoskey

The Crooked Tree, photo by Robert Carter

Robert writes: Huge and ancient . . . this locally famous ‘Crooked Tree’ sits beside one of the roads near my home. “Crooked Tree”: “Crooked Tree Arts Center”, “Crooked Tree Breadworks”, “Crooked Tree Golf Club”, “Crooked Tree Septic Service”, “Crooked Tree This and Crooked Tree That”. This may not be the actual tree from which they take their names . . . but it is the most crooked tree I’ve come across in my travels, and it jumps out at everyone as they drive past.

Robert is correct that this isn’t the original. The Crooked Tree; Indian legends and a short history of the Little Traverse Bay region is available online and tells the story of the original Crooked Tree:

A tall, crooked pine tree overhanging a high bluff, served to designate what was probably the most important Indian village in the north, prior to the advent of the white man. “Wau-go-naw-ki-sa” the Crooked Tree could be seen for many miles by the occupants of approaching canoes. After rounding the northwestern extremity of what is now Emmet county, in the state of Michigan, on their way south, it was a familiar sight, and one that never failed to bring exultations of joy from the brave and daring Ottawas.

Just where the Crooked Tree stood we have been unable to ascertain; but tradition says it was in the vicinity of Middle Village of the present day. According to the legend it was bent by Na-na-bo-jo. Formerly it was straight, but as the great hunter and chieftain was climbing the hill one day at this point, with his canoe over his head, the end of the boat caught on the tree and gave him a bad fall. In anger he struck the tree a blow with his fist and bent it over. Where he hit the trunk a large swelling came out, and henceforward every knot or growth protruding from a tree was called “Na-na-bo-jo’s Fist.”

Read on for some cool stories from the area including some about the tree-punching Na-na-bo-jo!

View Robert’s photo bigger and see more in his My Petoskey slideshow.

#TBT: Petoskey Pierhead Light

Petoskey Pierhead Lighthouse 1913

Petoskey Lighthouse in 1917, courtesy National Archives & Lighthouse Friends

Last month I featured a cool shot of the Petoskey Pierhead lighthouse that people really liked. Here’s a pic of what that light looked like a hundred years ago. The entry for the Petoskey Pierhead Light at Lighthouse Friends says (in part):

Named after the Ottawa Indian Chief Ignatius Petosega, Petoskey is situated at the southeast corner of Little Traverse Bay. In westerly winds, the lake steamers had difficulty offloading summer visitors at Petoskey, prompting Congress to pass an act on August 17, 1895, authorizing construction of breakwaters to protect the landing pier. One breakwater, connected to shore, was built west of the landing pier, and a second detached breakwater was built to the north.

Work on the breakwaters commenced in 1896, and in 1899, a metal post with a lamp house at its base was placed fourteen feet from the outer end of the western breakwater. Two lantern lights, a red one above a white one, were exhibited from the post starting on July 1, 1899. The beacon light was damaged by the schooner Willia Loutit on July 11, 1900, but repairs, paid for by the schooner’s owners, were soon made.

In 1903, structural steel and cast-iron metalwork were ordered to enclose the pier’s metal post, but the work was evidently not carried out until 1912. The resulting thirty-four-foot-tall lighthouse resembled an inverted funnel and consisted of a pyramidal base, a vertical mid-section, and an ornate lantern room. This funnel-like style of lighthouse was also deployed on piers at five other Lake Michigan cities: Waukegan, Illinois and at Kenosha, Milwaukee, Racine, and Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

…During a severe storm in December 1924, the lighthouse was washed from the breakwater and destroyed. A newspaper account noted that the “self-lighting lighthouse” had been discontinued for the season on December 8, just six days before it was swept off the breakwater. A temporary light was displayed from an unpainted post until 1930, when a concrete foundation was constructed on the breakwater, and a new light was displayed from a thirty-foot, skeletal, steel tower, painted red.

Read on for more information & photos and head over to lighthousefriends.com for many more Michigan lighthouse features.

…and of course Michigan in Pictures has lots more Michigan lights too!

High Winds & Waves on the Petoskey Pier

Petoskey Breakwater by Julie A Christiansen

High Winds & Waves, photo by Julie A Christiansen

Julie got a great shot of the waves rolling over the pier at Petoskey. View it bigger and see more in her giant-sized Michigan slideshow.

PS: Julie shared this in the Michigan Cover Photos group on Flickr, and it’s the latest cover photo on the Michigan in Pictures Facebook. Please feel free to share yours there too. If you’re a Facebooking person, you might want to become a fan of the page for bonus weekend photos and discussion about the photos featured here!