Shipping Season: The Saginaw at Mission Point

Saginaw at Mission Point, photo by Krystal Kauffman

Capistrano has their swallows, but a sure sign of Spring in Michigan is when the freighters return to the Great Lakes. One of the best places for shipwatching is right where Krystal took this photo: Mission Point at the mouth of the North Channel near the Soo Locks.

View the photo bigger and follow My Michigan by Krystal on Facebook for more.

The USS Michigan

USS Michigan, photo by US Navy/Steven F LeBlanc

We move from a Coast Guard photo yesterday to a Navy photo today. While this photo showing a starboard bow view of the nuclear-powered strategic missile submarine USS Michigan (SSBN-727) was taken sometime before June of 1982 in the north Pacific, I’m going to allow it. mLive reports that the USS Michigan nuclear submarine is now operating in Korean waters:

The USS Michigan is more than 560 feet long and weighs more than 18,000 tons when submerged and is regularly deployed throughout the Western Pacific from its home port of Bremerton, Wash.

It was first launched in 1980 and commissioned two years later. It was built to carry the Navy’s third generation submarine-launched ballistic missile, the Trident C-4. The Michigan carried out its primary mission of deterrence for nearly two decades in over 60 missions.

At the end of the Cold War, it was spared from decommission and converted with two other ships to the Ohio-class sea frame. In 2007, it followed the USS Ohio, Florida and Georgia as a guided missile submarine.

The vessel is capable of hitting speeds of over 20 knots while submerged and can drop over 800 feet below sea level. It also contains 22 tubes that carry seven Tomahawks each.

…The Michigan is the third ship to bear the name in the U.S. Navy’s history. The original Michigan was the first iron warship in the U.S. Navy and likely the first iron or steel warship of its size in the world, according to a biography on the Navy’s website.

Read on more more at mLive and also see the Navy’s page on the USS Michigan.

View the photo bigger and see more pictures at the USS Michigan photo archive from the Navy.

USS Edson at the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum

uss-edson-frozen-in-the-saginaw-river

USS Edson frozen in the Saginaw river, photo by Tom Clark

The USS Edson is located at the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum in Bay City. The say (in part):

The keel for the Forrest Sherman class destroyer USS EDSON (DD-946) was laid at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, on 3 December 1956. EDSON is one of the relatively few ships of the U.S. Navy named for a United States Marine, in this case Major General Merritt Austin Edson.

Edson was launched on 4 January 1958 by General Edson’s widow, Ethel Robbins Edson, who broke the traditional bottle of champagne over the ship’s bow. EDSON’S final fitting out and sea trials occupied the next ten months, and on 7 November 1958, EDSON was commissioned under the command of CDR Thomas J. Moriarty, USN. She then sailed in early 1959 to the Caribbean and through the Panama Canal to reach her original homeport of Long Beach, California, on 2 March 1959.

For the next two decades, EDSON served as a valuable member of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, earning a reputation as a Top Gun ship and the nickname, “The Destroyer.” Her ship’s crest included a skull copied from the shoulder patch worn by then Colonel Edson’s First Marine Raider Battalion.

Note that the Museum itself is closed for the winter until March!

View Tom’s photo bigger and see more in his Ships & Boats slideshow.

More ships & boats on Michigan in Pictures!

 

Failure of Poe Lock at the Soo Locks would be devastating

charles m. beeghly, poe lock, sault ste. marie, michigan

charles m. beeghly, poe lock, sault ste. marie, michigan, photo by twurdemann

via today’s Five Things you need to know about Michigan on Absolute Michigan comes a Detroit Free Press report on  the potentially dire consequences for the US & Michigan if the Soo Locks fail:

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security report indicates a 6-month shutdown of the Poe Lock in Sault Ste. Marie, if one occurred, would plunge the nation into recession, closing factories and mines, halting auto and appliance production in the U.S. for most of a year and result in the loss of some 11 million jobs across the nation.

The report, obtained by the Free Press through the Freedom of Information Act, paints a grim picture of the outcome of any long-term shutdown of the Poe, the only one of the so-called Soo Locks able to handle the 1,000-foot-long vessels that each year move millions of tons of iron ore from mines in Minnesota and northern Michigan to steel mills dotting the lower Great Lakes and beyond.

….But what is also clear from the Homeland Security report is that while a longer-term shutdown would be catastrophic, even a shorter one could have a much wider impact than previously thought: If such a closure occurred at the Poe during the March 25-Jan. 15 shipping season, for instance, as much as 75% of the nation’s steel output could be halted within two to six weeks.

Read on for more, including a video of a ship going into the locks.

View twurdemann’s photo from Engineer’s Day (every June) bigger and see more in his Great Lakes Shipping slideshow.

More Soo Locks on Michigan in Pictures!

A Tale of Two Bridges: History of Port Huron’s Blue Water Bridge

Freighter Saginaw Under the Blue Water Bridge

Untitled, photo by Diane

The website Michigan History was produced by someone at MSU. While I have no idea who or why they gave up on what was shaping up to be a cool website, the history checks out. The page on Port Huron’s Blue Water Bridge says:

Perhaps Port Huron’s greatest claim to fame is the Blue Water Bridge, a historic arcing bridge that serves as a means of transportation between Canada and the United States. The bridge is located over the St. Clair River, and connects Port Huron, Michigan, to Sarnia, Ontario. In 2013 the Blue Water Bridge celebrated its 75th anniversary, and a closer look at its history show why Port Huron residents take pride in the structure.

The original Blue Water Bridge was constructed in 1938, and was built by the American Bridge Company of New York, and the Hamilton Bridge Company of Ontario. The original bridge is an arch cantilever bridge, which was designed to not only support large amounts of traffic, but also to have an aesthetic arching look. In the late 1980s the border crossing became so popular that plans for a new bridge were brought up. However, instead of demolishing the old bridge, a new one was built in 1997 beside the old bridge, to support eastbound traffic.

The Michigan cost for building the new bridge, and renovating the old one was $62.6 million dollars. (Michigan Department of Transportation) The project was considered an enormous success and won awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Ontario Institution of Steel Construction, and the Federal Highway Administration. For Port Huron residents the bridge signifies the close connection with Canada, and the willingness of the two sides to work closely together.

Click for more about the history of Port Huron. If you want to get really in depth, The Construction History of the Blue Water Bridge (pdf) is an excellent account that details the political maneuverings and construction challenges of both bridges.

View Diane’s photo of the freighter Saginaw passing under the Blue Water Bridge background bigtacular and see more in her Freighters and the St. Clair River slideshow.

There’s more Michigan bridges on Michigan in Pictures, and since you’ve read this far, Boatnerd’s page on the Saginaw has everything you’ll want to know about the self-unloading bulk carrier that was launched May 9th, 1953 as the John J. Boland. It’s one of three near sister vessels built by this shipyard: The John G. Munson which is still plying the lakes and the Detroit Edison that suffered a career-ending grounding in Lake Michigan in December of 1980.

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

SS Edmund Fitzgerald Underway

SS Edmund Fitzgerald Underway, photo via Wikimedia Commons

I went and bought all of the old newspapers, got everything in chronological order, and went ahead and did it because I already had a melody in my mind. It was from an old Irish dirge that I heard when I was about three and a half years old. I think it was one of the first pieces of music that registered to me as being a piece of music. That’s where the melody comes from, from an old Irish folk song.
~Gordon Lightfoot on The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

40 years ago today, Michigan’s most remembered shipwreck took place. A big part of this is certainly Gordon Lightfoot’s signature ballad The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The song – familiar to almost every Michigander – seems to memorialize more than simply the 29 men who perished in that horrible storm. There is certainly no better video of this song than this one crafted by Joseph Fulton featuring footage of the Fitz that you’ve probably never seen. It starts out with Walter Cronkite’s Harry Reasoner’s news report from November 11, 1975 and just gets better from there – definitely worth your time!

mLive has an article about how & why Gordon Lightfoot wrote ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’ that you should check out. It includes a nice little video where he shares how he’s edited the live lyrics to reflect what’s been learned about the sinking of the ship. They got Lightfoot’s account of  the writing of the song from the songwriter’s Ask Me Anything on Reddit, an interesting look inside of the mind of a thoughtful and talented songwriter.

I made some minor corrections to today’s photo to get the colors a little closer to those of the Fitz. View it big as the Fitz and see more at Edmund Fitzgerald images at Wikmedia.

There more ships and more shipwrecks on Michigan in Pictures.

Continue reading The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Badger in the Mist

Badger Heading Out

Ludingtons SP_0103, photo by Ron DeHaan

Here’s the S.S. Badger heading out for Wisconsin. I rode the Badger many times in my Junior & Senior year of high school (Go Wausau East Lumberjacks!) to get from Michigan to Wisconsin. It was such a pleasant way to cross Lake Michigan, and at the prices they charged there were a number of people who would do a round trip crossing, playing cribbage, drinking beer from a cooler and laughing as they enjoyed the ride.

View Ron’s photo bigger and see more cool shots from the Ludington area in his slideshow.

More ships & boats, more Ludington and more of the Badger (and badgers) on Michigan in Pictures.