Fall Color on the Rouge River

Newburgh Bridge by River Wanderer

Newburgh Bridge by River Wanderer

River Wanderer shared this shot of the Newburgh Bridge along the Middle Rouge River, heading into Newburgh Lake on a beautiful day in October of 2016. See lots more on their Flickr page.

You can learn more about the Rouge River from Friends of the Rouge.

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#TBT: The Boblo Boat aka the Ste. Claire

Herbet Jackson and Boblo Boat Ste Claire

Herbert C Jackson and the Bob-Lo Boat, photo by Christopher Dark

One of the Boblo Boats, the Ste. Claire, is shown here at its new berth, where it was moved a couple of weeks ago.

The Ste. Claire Restoration Project’s History page explains:

The steamer Ste. Claire represents the typical propeller-driven excursion steamer of the turn of the century, a type once found in many parts of the country. Excursion steamers are steamships built primarily for passengers for day trips. Ste. Claire and her running mate Columbia represent the “ocean-going” type of excursion vessel although they were used on lakes.

The steamer Columbia and Ste. Claire are the last two remaining classic excursion steamers in the country; and the last essentially unaltered passenger ships designed by Frank E. Kirby; and for their essentially unaltered propulsion machinery of a type becoming increasingly rare ; as the two last vessels of the Detroit and Windsor Ferry Co.; as two of the few surviving vessels built by the Detroit Dry Dock Company, and for their unaltered propulsion machinery, which is of a rare type. Columbia is the oldest passenger steamer in the United States, excepting vessels properly classed as ferries. Columbia and her running-mate Ste. Claire are the last two steamers of their type with integrity left in the United States. The pair shared their original run from Detroit to Bob-Lo Island for 81 years, a record of service on a single run unequalled in U. S. history

There’s a ton of cool stuff on the Boblo Boat website including their media center, plans for the restoration and of course donations!

Christopher got this great shot of the Herbert C Jackson upbound on the Rouge River as she passed the Ste. Claire. Click to view it bigger and see more of his photos on Facebook.

More great night photography and more ships on Michigan in Pictures.

Golden Hour on the Rouge River

The Golden Hour on the Rouge

The Golden Hour on the Rouge, photo by pkHyperFocal

The Rouge River Gateway Project relates that the Potawatami referred to the river as Minosa Goink which means “Singeing Skin River” – the place where game animals were dressed. The history continues (with my links to other fun stuff):

The French first settled on the banks of the Rouge River in the 1780s. They named the river “Rouge”, or red. Settlers would claim a few hundred feet of river frontage and extend their farms deep into the forest. Remnants of these “ribbon farms” still exist today in land ownership patterns along the river. Europeans continued to immigrate into the region to take advantage of its resources. They used the reddish clay for brick, mined the area’s salt deposits, and built farming communities along the riverbanks. The native prairie oak savannah and hardwood forests were cleared to make room for agriculture and industry.

Rapid growth and industrial development characterized the late nineteenth century. Henry Ford purchased extensive land holdings along the river. He built a factory in Dearborn to manufacture farm tractors, but kept a good portion of his land in agricultural production, partially for testing equipment. In 1914, he started construction of a permanent residence on the banks of the Rouge River.

A defining moment in the history of the river transpired with the construction of the Ford Rouge Plant during World War I. The development of the plant was motivated by Henry Ford’s desire to supply submarine chasers to the US military. The Ford Rouge Manufacturing Complex grew into a massive self –contained industrial complex that daily employed over ninety thousand men in the early 20th century. Raw materials including coke, iron ore, and rubber were brought in and transformed into cars in less than thirty hours, a process that set a new global standard for industry. The Rouge Manufacturing Complex became the largest manufacturing site in the world.

In his book Burning Rivers, Allen Park native John Hartig relates how heavy manufacturing and population growth seriously impacted the river to the point where the river became one of the most polluted waterways in the nation, catching fire in 1969 shortly after the famous Lake Erie/Cuyahoga River fire.

In 1986, in a Sunday feature on a new organization seeking to restore the Rouge, the Detroit Free Press called it the “sewer for a metropolis, discharge drain for industry, dumping ground for junk and garbage”. They went on to say that “the Rouge River has become so polluted that a cleanup seems unthinkable.”

While the Rouge is certainly far from restored, the organization the Freep was talking about, Friends of the Rouge, has been dedicated along with other public and private efforts to the preservation & restoration of the river. I encourage you to check them out for more information and to learn about their good work on the behalf of the river. Lots more at the Rouge River Project and Wayne County’s Rouge Project.

View pkHyperFocal’s photo big as a boat and see more in their Man Made slideshow.

More industry on Michigan in Pictures.