Saturday, July 26, 2014

Graveyard of the Great Lakes

Stand at the end of this observation deck, look to the North-northwest and 17 miles out in 535 feet of water you will be looking across the site of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

This Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point notes, "Deceivingly beautiful, Lake Superior's unrelenting fury has earned the reputation of being the most treacherous of the Great Lakes".

All 29 crew members of the Fitzgerald lost their lives on that November 10, 1975 in the violence of one of Superior's boiling storms.  They are memorialized here along with the 30,000 other men, women and children lost to shipwreck on the Great Lakes.

The museum grounds also contain the Whitefish Point Light Station, built in 1849 (right).  It has "...illuminated these dangerous waters for mariners continuously since."

Another terrific feature of the museum is the beautifully restored Surfboat House which contains an oar-propelled life-saving boat of its day (below) and a beach wagon containing all the then modern apparatus to rescue folks stranded on a ship stuck in the near, off-shore shallows.

The wagon featured a small, brass cannon which could fire a projectile, with a messenger line attached, across the top of the vessel in distress where able bodied survivors could use the delivered line to pull an even heavier line across the open water and secure it.

A breeches-buoy then could travel back and forth from the ship to shore, hauling one person at a time to safety.  They would be secured in the buoy, dangling from the heavy line with a pulley as the buoy was hauled back and forth--sometimes dipping the survivor into a crashing wave depending on the mood of the surf.

More than 240 shipwrecks are known to have happened in Whitefish Bay and the approach waters of Lake Superior; in that area known as "The Graveyard of the Great Lakes".

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sault Ste Marie, MI

I never did find out why this eatery had this name but it was a fun reminisce for us as we were reminded of the blogs we did on this fine automobile which, indirectly, had its origins in Ashland, OH.  Click here for a short series of those earlier Studebaker stories.

Meanwhile, it just happened this nice restaurant was merely a chip shot from our dandy motel in a recent visit to the Sault Ste Marie area.

To give you some idea how far North the Soo is, this license plate was displayed on the restaurant's wall.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


The US Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw as she looked during her 62 year work life (upper) and as she now appears as a nautical museum in her permanent home port, Mackinaw, MI.

She was built in Toledo, OH and launched in March 1944, at the time the most powerful icebreaker in the world.  Her construction was part of the war effort during WW II to help meet the heavy demands for movement of war materials during the winter months. 

She was known as the "Queen of the Great Lakes" during her working life.  Her construction, partially funded by commercial, shipping interests, included a beam (width) of 74 feet, wider than the pre-1959 Welland Canal, thus preventing the coast guard from ever assigning her elsewhere.

Fully loaded she displaced (weighed) 5,252 tons, was 290 feet long and drew over 19 feet of water (measured from the waterline along her hull down to her keel.).

She had six, 10 cylinder engines that produced 12,000 shaft horsepower.

One of her design features was a 12' protected propeller at her bow which could suck water from under the ice ahead, thus weakening the ice and sending water flowing along her hull, reducing friction.  

With thin ice she would simply crush it with her raw power.  As ice thickened she could ride up on it and smash through it with her weight.  She also could quickly roll 112,000 gallons of ballast water from side to side helping her to wiggle out of a jam.

She could break 2 1/2 feet of ice continuously and 11 feet by backing and ramming.

General navigation on the lakes was usually closed to shipping for about 4 1/2 months during winter.  She was able to extend the shipping season 1 1/2 months, critical to the war effort and later helpful to sea going ships in danger of being frozen in Great Lakes ports.

She was retired in June 2006 and on that same day in Cheboygan, MI the "new" Mackinaw WLBB-30 (below) was commissioned.

She's 50 feet shorter and 1,700 tons lighter than the Big Mack.

Hope she is adequate to continue the tradition.

Original Mack photo by BM1 Mark A. Faught, late 1990s

Saturday, July 12, 2014

"The Case for Obama's impeachment:  The Constitution's remedy for a lawless, imperial president"

Click here!

No amount of ignoring these facts will lessen the truth of this recitation of the stunning chain of violations of the Constitution and the laws of this country this current regime in the White House has paraded like a steam-roller in recent years over the apparent unconsciousness of the mainstream media and the checks and balances built into our legal system.

Action must be taken now or the America we have grown to know as the greatest exercise in self-government in history will be destroyed.


This dandy bridge, the fifth longest suspension bridge in the World, spans the Mackinac Strait where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron join between the lower and upper peninsulas (UP) of Michigan.  Sue is looking through a pedestal telescope from the southeast side of the bridge in this view as the sun burned off that morning's fog on our way home.

The village of Mackinaw is on the south end and the city of St. Ignace is on the UP end of this huge span.

The bridge, completed in 1957, has a total length of 5 miles.  The distance between her main towers is 3,800 feet.  She weighs 1,024,500 tons.  Can you imagine the size of scale that determined that?

Ships 155 feet tall can squeeze beneath her center span.

We were returning from a whirl-wind 3-day car journey, geocaching from Mansfield to Whitefish Point which pierces Lake Superior in the eastern UP.  The trip was momentous for us; providing our furthest cache North and numerous caches in Canada around the Soo Locks.

That was our second, international geocaching experience, following the Bahamas in early Spring.

Even though I spent the winter of 1958 in the coast guard at Charlevoix, about 40 miles to the Southwest along the Lake Michigan shore, I had never crossed the bridge, visited the Soo Locks or touched Lake Superior.

I satisfied all three of those shortages in one event!

Also, I had never seen the site of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, in Lake Superior about 17 miles off shore while approaching Whitefish Bay.  The Fitzgerald sinking has been burned into the public consciousness by Mr. Lightfoot's song.

Sadly, while I was a raw recruit at the time of my posting to Charlevoix the steamer Carl D. Bradley broke in half and sank about 40 miles off-shore from Charlevoix and we were an extremely busy station handling the search and rescue effort.  33 of her 35 man crew perished in that horrible, November storm.

The Bradley's loss of life exceeded the Fitzgerald's by 4.  May all those sailors continue to rest in peace.

Meanwhile, life goes on as a father watches his son pitch a handful of beach pebbles into the strait while a giant cargo ship makes her way downstream under the bridge, likely headed through Lakes Huron, Erie and Ontario then via the St. Lawrence Seaway and out to sea.

Details from the Mackinac Bridge Authority here!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What the World needs now is a few less flies...
and lots more butterflies.

Saturday, July 5, 2014


Wife of JC


Died Jan 4, 1892

Unknown to the author and
with all possible respect...

This tombstone, one of the largest I've seen of its kind, is made of metal.  Those that are considerably smaller (but larger than the infant's marker {foreground}) are fairly common around Ohio.

The contrast between the metal marker's blue hue and that of a traditional granite stone is apparent in the photo right.

These pictures were done on a recent, 55 mile motorcycle caching run that involved finding a geocache in Fredericktown and one in this cemetery adjacent to the Chester Baptist Church, just south of Chesterville, OH.

Cemetery caches nearly always are somewhere on the perimeter of the grounds, or, if elsewhere on the burial grounds, away from tombstones.

Being respectful of the grave sites is always part of the hiding and finding process.

Taking a close peek while meandering through the burial sites often reveals something of interest.  In this case, why, for example, is the lady on top of the tall metal marker holding an anchor in her left hand?

Then there is this above ground crypt in the same cemetery seemingly being watched over by a bit of a ragged cast of stone centurions in the background.

The wording on the decedent's plaque (foreground) says,

"To the memory of the
Born in Tilgrath, South Wales minister of the gospel, He lived justly esteemed for his piety and usefulness, died justly lamented, on the first day of November 1821 in the 61 year of his age."

Wife of the Rev. Henry George, died Augustg 27, 1843 aged 84 years.
Buried in Missouri"

Then, there was this cemetery experience we still chuckle about from very early in our caching career.  On a stone in a cemetery near the Clear Fork Lake dam just west of Lexington, there was mention of a lady who died at the age of 33 years in 1826.

Her gravestone described her as the "Consort" of the headstone's decedent.

We still wonder how lively the definition of that word might have been 188 years ago.