Sunday, August 25, 2013


The other week Ken and I headed to Windsor to get some pictures of Detroit.  We hit the park and walked along the river.

This is the reason I was able to get Ken to go.  The Arthur M. Anderson was downbound.  Here you can see the bridge leading to Belle Isle in the background.

 The Anderson passes Detroit.  Unfortunately, the sun was in the wrong place, but there wasn't much we could do about it.  It is kind of hard to move the city.

 The Renaissance Center from Windsor.

 After the Anderson passed, we headed back to the car.


Moments after the previous picture.

 We caught one of the Algoma boats upbound.

One final image of Detroit before heading out.  The wake of the Algoma boat comes in.

Chippewa Nature Center

My sister invited me for a visit and as we were talking about things to do, I said I would like to visit the Chippewa Nature Center. I hadn't been there in about 15 years and then we didn't venture much beyond the visitor's center as it was winter.

We hiked the river trail, which oddly enough, ran along the river for quite a bit.  This trail is 2.7 miles long and was a very nice walk.  There are over 15 miles of hiking trails within the 1170 acres of the Chippewa Nature Center.    We only hiked this one.

The water was shallow and clear

If you need to stop and lean against something or grab it for support, don't choose this.

There is a small area with period buildings.  They weren't open so we were stuck taking pictures of the outsides of them.  This is a typical home.

A flower near one of the gardens.

This was a one room schoolhouse.

And perhaps my favorite building, the sugar house.  Here sap from the sugar maple is rendered down into maple syrup

The trail we were walking passed through this wetland.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Irish Hills Towers

The Irish Hills Towers are an iconic image of the area.  Built in the 1920s these wooden towers have stood along US-12 for over nine decades.  The towers closed at the end of the 2000 season and have stood vacant since then.  Recently, the owner was told that they needed to demolish the towers or fix them.  With that in mind, I headed down the road to get some pictures before they were gone.

I'd passed through the area back in around 2000-2002 and was impressed with everything.  I always said I was going to go back there and spend a day going through them, but I kept putting it off.

In 2009, needing time to think and get away from things, I started driving through the Irish Hills regularly.  The Irish Hills had been a destination for people from Metro Detroit and beyond for decades and there were all sorts of roadside attractions.  By the time I passed through only 3 remained in operation and the lonely, abandoned attractions mirrored the way I felt at the time. 

Of those three, I was surprised two were in operation and at the end of last year, one of them closed for good.  Of the two, I've gone through them both.  One is like the Mystery Spot in St. Ignace and it looks pretty run down.  The other has mini-golf, an arcade, batting cages and other things and looks to be doing okay.  It looks well maintained and is open every time I drive past.

Although I arrived before the deadline, I was surprised to see that demolition had already begun.   I have to say that this saddened me. 

I'd always thought that someday I'd sneak in and snap some pictures, but the thought of getting caught and arrested deterred me.

Though the tops were coming off, the pigeons were still sticking it out.

I returned a couple of days later to find the tops missing.

A few days after that I returned again.  This time the construction equipment was gone and it looked like the demolition had been halted.

A woman in a car saw me taking pictures and stopped near me.  We got to talking and she indicated that she was the owner of the property.  The tops were taken off because they were in really bad shape.  A new roof is going on and they are trying to raise enough money to do a restoration.  They are hoping to get the mini-golf course back in operation and open the former gift shop as a museum.

On August 15th of this year the Township Board gave a 60 day extension to come up with a comprehensive plan for the future of the towers. 

If you're of a mind to, I encourage you to donate to the Irish Hills Historical Society to help in the preservation of the towers.  The towers, and the area itself, are signs of our past.  A time when things moved at a slower pace and things seem like they were simpler then, even if they weren't.  If this piece of Americana disappears, it will be gone forever. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Engineer's Day at the Soo Locks

I went to Engineers Day at the Soo Locks. I try not to take too many pictures of boats. There are others who do so much better than I do and I have mentioned, they are not the focus of this blog. I share these pictures because I was able to get to images from certain angles, and of things, that I wouldn't normally be able to.
The Lee A. Tregurtha repositioned from the north wall to the south to allow some visitors to tour her.

Standing on the doors at the end of the lock.

The Tregurtha slows to a stop and moors along the wall.

The walkway across the end of the lock.

Up close and personal.


The John D. Leitch ties up before locking down.

A sign showing how efficient shipping is.

The Lee A. Tregurtha underway passing Mission Point.

Ships passing at Four Mile Beach.

There are boat fans of all ages.

The Edwin H. Gott at Mission Point.

Nearing the locks.

The power plant in Sault Ste. Marie.

A busy day at the locks.  I don't recall the name of the small craft on the right, but here the American Spirit leaves the locks while the Alpena on the right and the Edwin H. Gott on the left wait to enter.

Clear sailing.

The Alpena enters the lock.

Followed by the Gott.  The Gott is one of 13 1,000 foot vessels plying the Great Lakes.

Two more ships approaching as the Gott and Alpena wait to leave the locks.

The Gott out of the locks and heading for Whitefish Bay.

Point Iroquois Lighthouse

I got to the Point Iroquois Lighthouse early in the morning. When I got there the sun was hitting the building in just the right way to give it a soft glow. The keeper who lives there came out and told me he was going to open the light up for me. In the minute or so that I talked to him the sun moved behind the clouds and did not reappear while I was there. So some advice to those who have have the right light is to take the picture then and do other things after you get the picture.

Point Iroquois is named because of the massacre of Iroquois by the Ojibwa in 1662.  The Iroquois were expanding west and the Ojibwa were not pleased and were determined to drive the Iroquois out of the area.

The view from the top of the lighthouse looking west.  The light and keeper station were restored in 1993.  A keeper stays there all year because vandalism was a problem. 

The lighthouse was built in 1855 and 1856.  It was replaced by the current structure in 1872.  It operated until 1962 when it was deactivated and replaced with the Gros Cap light that sits in the channel. 

The site is on the National Register of Historical Places.  Because of this, there are limits to what can and cannot be done on the site and for renovation. 

For example, the building was painted recently.  The paint had to be approved by Washington.  Unfortunately, the paint that was approved is already peeling off the tower because while the rest of the structure is heated, the tower is not.   Now they have to wait for approval to fix the peeling paint, and can only do so with an approved of material.

There is a nice boardwalk in the area from which the second image is shot from.  It took several years for the government to approve the boardwalk.  It runs down to the beach and is well worth the short walk.