Lighthouses, Lakes and Leaves

My brother and I are on an adventure to visit some lighthouses that I have not been to before and some that he has never been to before.  It’s nice since he retired to have a partner in crime on some of my trips!

DAY 1

It’s a gorgeous fall week to drive and just relax and take in all the fall colors.  Let’s get to it!

Hello from Hell !  Hell, Michigan that is!

Having some fun in Hell as do over 100,000 other visitors per year do!

There are several things to do when you visit Hell.  You can go kayaking or canoeing, walk around town, grab a bite to eat, get a drink at the local saloon, shop for souvenirs, visit the Creamatory (ice cream), putt putt golf, visit the locks of love and even get married.

It really is a neat place to visit and this close to Halloween it’s even better!

After our time in Hell it is time to make our way to Detroit where we will visit some lighthouses.

Grosse Ile Lighthouse

With Lake Erie to the south, Lake St. Clair midway and Lake Huron to the north, ships would travel the Detroit  and St. Clair Rivers.

Grosse Ile Lighthouse sits at the north end of Grosse Ile.  It was built in 1906 and is 40 feet tall.  The Lighthouse was deactivated in 1963 and now sits on private property.

Mariners Memorial Lighthouse

This Lighthouse was built to honor the men and women who sailed these waters and also to the builders of ships.  It was built in 2003 and sits in Belanger Park on the mouth of the Detroit and Rouge Rivers.  The light is operational and is 41 feet high.

Milliken State Park Lighthouse

Along the Riverwalk you will find this 63 foot Lighthouse at Milliken State Park in Detroit.  It was built in 2004 as part of the state park and one of the few built in an urban area.  If you have visited some of the other lighthouses in Michigan, this is a replica of the Tawas Point Lighthouse on the east coast of the state.

Windmill Point Lighthouse

At the outlet of the Detroit River into Lake St. Clair is the Windmill Point Lighthouse at 45 feet tall .   The original lighthouse was built in 1837 and in 1875 a new lighthouse was built.  The structure you see above had a 3-story duplex attached in the late 1800’s and also served as a Mariners hospital.  The structure was razed in the 1930’s. 

William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse

Another Memorial Lighthouse is this one at the east end of Belle Isle Park.  The structure is only one of two lighthouses built from marble.  The lighthouse was built in 1930 and is 58 feet tall. 

Driving through Detroit was not as bad as I thought it would be and there was definitely some beautiful architecture and this very neat mural.

Peche Island Rear Range Light

This historic lighthouse originally sat on Peche Island at the mouth of the Detroit River into Lake St. Clair.  Built in 1908 and deactivated in 1983 it was then moved to Marine City.  The lighthouse is 66 feet tall.

Wishing we had more time to spend in Marine City after walking around.

I did spot a neat faded mural on the side of a building.

The Huron Lightship

When you think of lighthouses you think of a structure built on land, but have you ever seen or heard of a lightship?

Commissioned in 1920 the Lightship #103 operated mainly in the Port Huron and lower Lake Huron area. She is 97 feet long and weighs 312 tons. She was equipped with a acetylene lens lantern, a steam whistle, a fog horn and a bell. She was decommissioned in 1970 and is now a museum.

Thomas Arnold Edison Rock

This rock sits in the park above the Huron Lightship. It is a marker for the boyhood home of Thomas Edison.

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse was built in 1829 and was the first lighthouse built in Michigan. It is just north of downtown Port Huron and stands 82 feet in height. The lighthouse is on the National Records of Historical Places and in 2004 the United States Coast Guard of Port Huron took over the lighthouse. The lighthouse was closed in 2008 for repairs but reopened in 2012 for guided tours.

DAY 2

Good morning from Mackinaw City and the “Mighty Mac”!

The Mighty Mac spans a distance of almost 5 miles across the Straits of Mackinac which joins Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

The Mighty Mac is the 5th longest suspension bridge in the world.  Built in 1957 it is what connects Michigan to the Upper Peninsula.

The Mighty Mac, Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island are huge tourist attractions and draw thousands of people every year.   In fact, on Labor Day each year they close the bridge to traffic and open it to people who want to walk from one side to the other or walk the round trip.

Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse

One of my very favorite lighthouses is the Mackinac Point Lighthouse.   First lit in 1892 it sits on the southeast side of the Mighty Mac.  There is a very nice park there and a beach.  The lighthouse was deactivated in 1957 but remains open to visitors.

The 62 foot tower was not open this day but my brother took the tour while I checked out the gift shop.

It’s was on the chilly/rainy side this day so we opted to go to Sault St. Marie and check out a couple more lighthouses and the Soo Locks.

Wawatam Lighthouse

Sitting on the Chief Wawatam Pier in St. Ignace is this lightouse which was built in 1998 as an iconic roadside attraction at the Welcome Center in Monroe, Michigan.  My brother pointed out that he remembered it being there but it was red and green at that time.

In 2004 the 52 foot tower was taken apart and moved 330 miles north to St Ignace.  It was put back together, painted white and lit in 2006.

Castle Rock

A trip to St. Ignace is not complete without stopping at Castle Rock, one known as Ojibways Lookout.  The protruding rock is 195 feet higher than Lake Huron below.

Opened as a tourist attraction by C. C. Eby in 1928 and in the 1950’s the Eby family opened a souvenir shop and for a buck or two you can climb to the top for panoramic views. Don’t forget to have your picture taken with Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Please don’t leave without a sasquash tee shirt!

It is going to be a great drive north as the leaves are really starting to change.

Little Rapids Cut Light

This is not really a Lighthouse but is a modern working beacon to help ships in inclement weather and at night.

As it’s starting to rain now we take our pictures and are ready to leave. Backing up I notice that cars are lining up to catch a ferry and NOT noticing the sign I just backed over I was totally embarrassed. Ugh! Feeling like a total idiot at this point, my brother and a few men waiting on the ferry came to help. Long story short, my truck was fine but my brother got a little muddy and I felt bad.

Frying Pan Island Lighthouse

Looking for this Lighthouse was a little tricky and we drove by it twice! The 18 foot steel and iron lighthouse now sits inside the gates of the United States Coast Guard station.

It did at one time sit on Frying Pan Island which was named for, you guessed it, a Frying Pan left by Indians that once inhabited the island. The lighthouse was built in 1882 and deactivated in 1935.

Historic Water Street

John Johnston House

John Johnston was an Irish immigrant who established his homestead on the banks of the St. Mary’s River in 1793 with his wife, Susan, a member of the Ojibwa.

In 1812 John left his home for Fort Mackinac to help the British fight against the Americans. In retaliation the Americans burned John’s home in 1814 but he re-built and the image above is what is left of that home.

Neengay of the Garden

In the garden next to the Johnston home there is a statue. Johnston’s wife, Susan, Woman of the Green Glade and Neengay, spoke her native language although she knew English. She was instrumental in writing the first poetry of a native language.

Elmwood

Built in 1822, Elmwood was the headquarters for Indian affairs throughout the Great Lakes.

The Kemp Industrial Museum

Built in 1904 by George Kemp, businessman of coal production. The museum was once the Kemp Coal Dock Office.

The Bishop Baraga House

Built in 1857 behind the St. Peter Cathedral and was later moved in 1869 after the death of Bishop Baraga and in 1872 it was moved once again to the spot it sits today.

Fall Foliage in Sault St. Marie

The Valley Camp

This lake freighter, owned by the National Steel Corporation, which went be the name the Louis W. Hill from 1917 through 1955. In 1955 it became the Valley Camp until 1966, owned by the Republic Steel Corporation. In 1966 it docked here and became a museum.

Today, my brother and I are going to tour this massive 550 foot long ship. The ship weighs 12000 gross tons and is powered by an 1800 horsepower triple expansion reciprocating steam engine. Enjoy the following pictures of this huge freighter ship.

It was kind of eerie strolling through the ship because of its size and the fact it wasn’t very busy in October.

The Soo Locks

As luck would have it we boarded the last tour of the season! So very glad we came today instead of tomorrow!

The Soo Locks are located on the St. Marys River between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes. The locks were built to bypass the Rapids of the St. Marys River which drops 21 feet from the Superior side (north) to the Lake Huron side (south).

Operated and maintained by the Army Corp of Engineers. The first Locks were opened in 1855.

On our journey today we will travel through the Locks on the American side and be elevated 21 feet, then return on the Canadian side which will lower us 21 feet.

It truly is an experience to travel through the locks. Bonus! We didn’t need passports to travel in Canada!

We traveled back to Mackinaw City and stopped in St. Ignace for a wonderful dinner before heading to the motel.

DAY 3

Mackinac Island

It’s a beautiful sunny fall morning and we head to the ferry to take us to the island.

Mackinac Island is a very unique place and if you get the chance to go you will not run out of things to do. The first very unique thing about the island is there are no vehicles. You walk, ride a bike or take a carriage to your destination.

Mackinac Island is only 4.35 square miles and has 8 miles of shoreline. We decided to take a carriage ride to some local spots.

We will soon be at Arch Rock!

The water looks like the Caribbean.

In the distance is the Round Island Lighthouse and the Round Island Passage Light

The harbor and Fort Mackinac

We have both been to the island before but wanted to see the leaves and spend some time there, so before we leave we are going to the butterfly house.

It was late in the season for the butterflies but we enjoyed it very much.

Is anybody hungry? How about a hotdog at Wienerlicious? Not too bad! Made to your liking!

Is that Frankenstein or is that my brother? Having fun at the wiener place! Remember it’s almost Hallowiener!

DAY 4

Let us take a ride!

McGulpin Point Lighthouse

McGulpin Point Lighthouse was open for tours! What a great lighthouse and right down the road from Mackinaw City.

Built in 1869 on the southwest side of the Mighty Mac. The rooms were decorated in the theme of the times when lighthouses had Keepers. The tower is 38 feet tall and the view from the top was spectacular.

Behind the lighthouse there was a trail down to the water. It was amazing to see the bridge off in the distance on such a sunny clear day. The first picture is McGulpin Rock and was used as a navigational tool.

The Tunnel of Trees

If you follow M-119 down the western coast of Northern Michigan you will find this 27 mile stretch of road lined with trees and fall foliage.

Wow!  What a great display of color.  We did stop by a winery or two.

Little Traverse Light

Little Traverse Light was built in 1883 and decommissioned in 1963.  The tower is 40 foot tall and the light house is now on private property in a gated community.   These photos were shared with me by the gate keeper and he asked that I share them in memory of his son.

The day is growing old and the weary need food.  We found a great place in Mackinaw City called the Rusty Spoke.  I highly recommend the pineapple beer with your meal.

DAY 5

Heading southwest for a wedding!

Torch Lake

Torch Lake is known for its amazing resemblance to the waters of the Caribbean.  Located in northwestern Michigan in Antrim county.  It’s Michigan’s longest inland lake at 19 miles.

Alden Lighthouse

At the southern end of Torch Lake in downtown Alden is a small Lighthouse in honor of Beverly C. Taup.  I could not find any information on the Lighthouse or Mrs Taup.

This was the most beautiful tree!

Do you see the spooks hiding in the bushes?

Petoskey Peirhead Light

As we are driving towards the western shoreline of Michigan we stopped by the Bayfront Park in Petoskey to check out the Pierhead and watch the boats coming and going into the harbor.

Grand Traverse Lighthouse

One of the most scenic lighthouses in Michigan in at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula just north of Traverse City. With Lake Michigan to the north and west and Grand Traverse Bay to the east the lighthouse stands proud at the north most point of the peninsula.

The Grand Traverse Lighthouse is also on the National Register of Historic Places and was open for tours and in excellent condition. It was built in 1858 and deactivated in 1972 and the tower is 41 feet high.

Robert H Manning Memorial Lighthouse

On the shores of Lake Michigan in the city of Empire you will find this 38 foot high Lighthouse built in 1990. Manning was a longtime resident of Empire and loved fishing offshore. He often remarked that he wished there was a lighthouse nearby as he often came back in from fishing trips at night. After his death the city raised money to build the lighthouse in his memory.

Ludington Breakwater Lighthouse

As the sun sets in the west over Lake Michigan we end our day with this beautiful sunset picture of this 57 foot tall steel plated Lighthouse.

The Ludington Breakwater Lighthouse was built at the end of the Breakwater on Pere Marquette Harbor. Depending on the weather will depend if you can walk out to the lighthouse or not!

DAY 6

We are up and at’em this morning because this is a “big day! But first, let’s take a walk.

Big Sable Point Lighthouse

Ludington is also home to another famous lighthouse, Big Sable Point. In order to get to the lighthouse you need to find a parking space at the Ludington State Park and walk 2 miles out to the lighthouse. Well worth the trip as you walk through a grassy area and into dunes, make sure you take water.

Built in 1867 and still an active aid in navigation as it rises 112 feet above the beach. They do give tours and a gift shop is located at the lighthouse. This one is definitely on my favorites list.

Walking the 2 miles back we cut through the campground. It looks like they are in the Halloween spirit too.

A Wedding…..

This evening Dale and I are going to stand up for our sister as she marries her soul mate of 15 plus years.

Beth and Dean exchanged vows on the beach at sunset in their “special place”.

I felt so privileged to be part of their special day! 10/10/2020 and dedicate this blog to them. We all love you Beth and Dean and wish you many years of happiness and love.

What a great ending to a great week!

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