Located just off the mainland coast of Lake Michigan’s east coast, a group of islands known as the Beaver Archipelago form a chain which marked the western edge of a tight passage along the coast. Known as the "Manitou Passage," vessel masters taking this narrow passage were able to reduce the travel distance between the ports of Lake Michigan’s southern shore and the Straits of Mackinac by sixty miles, as opposed to taking the more circuitous route through open water to the west of the islands. As the most southerly of this chain of islands, South Manitou also featured one of the areas safest natural harbors, and with 5,260-acres of fine timber growth covering the island, it is not surprising that a few enterprising settlers arrived during the mid 1830’s to sell firewood to steamers taking shelter in the harbor when things turned sour out in the lake. By the late 1830’s it was commonplace to find upward of fifty vessels crowded into the harbor seeking refuge and taking-on supplies when things turned sour out in the lake.
Lying a scant few miles west of Sleeping Bear Point, mariners were hard pressed to locate the southern entrance to the busy passage at night or in times of thick weather, and a cry arose throughout the maritime community to light the southern entrance to the passage. Taking up their call on February 19, 1838, Michigan State Representative Isaac Crary entered a motion before the House of Representatives to erect a lighthouse on South Manitou, and fully cognizant of the vital role played by maritime commerce in the area, Congress responded quickly with an appropriation of $5,000 for the station’s construction on July 7 of that same year.
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore reports that after several years of limited piping plover nesting activity in the Glen Haven area, four pairs of the federally endangered shorebird have made that beach their home for the summer. This easily accessible location provides visitors an excellent opportunity to view a rare bird in its natural habitat, as well as have questions answered by National Park Service employees and volunteers who will be on site throughout the nesting season.
The entire shoreline will be open for walking; however, certain areas of the beach will be temporarily closed to all entry. Visitors are asked to respect these closed areas, quietly observe birds from a distance, and not disturb birds sitting on nests. National Lakeshore Superintendent Dusty Shultz noted “for the survival of the piping plover, it is critical that dogs be kept on a leash under the control of their owner. Otherwise, the dog’s natural chase instinct could result in harm to these rare birds.” Adults that are frightened off a nest will stop incubating eggs and often completely abandon the nest. Unleashed dogs may catch and kill piping plover chicks.
In the Glen Haven area, pets are prohibited on the beach from the Maritime Museum (including the grounds of the Maritime Museum) all the way around Sleeping Bear Point to the stream outlet of North Bar Lake. Pets on leashes are allowed on the beach east of the Maritime Museum to D. H. Day Campground.
The Great Lakes Echo has been asking photographers to send them their toughest Great Lakes shots for their Flash Point series. They recently featured Ken Scott of Ken Scott Photography...
South Manitou Lighthouse
Lit by a full moon, this is a stack of 350, 30-second exposures.
The hard part was getting the timing to work out so I could travel out to the island when there would be a full enough moon to light the landscape and no clouds to interfere with the shoot. It was a crap shoot and took a few trips out to get the timing the way I wanted it.
The easy part was hanging out on the beach under a full moon!
The interesting part (for me) is how technology has changed and with it, so have techniques. I used to do long exposures on film to get star trails, but if there was any man-made lighting, like street lamps, it would over-expose that part of the image and many times make the whole image unusable. Now with digital, you can take shorter exposures keeping lights better exposed and stack many photos to get the star trail effect without blowing out highlights. The time lapse of all the images to make this photo are here.
Ken shot this on Saturday night in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. He says that the brightness of the night sky is a reflection of iso and shutter speed (5 photos @ iso 1600 and 30 second exposures). Click to view larger on black!
Sleeping Bear Dunes historians believe the schooner fragment, estimated to be about 40-feet long and peppered with twisted metals spikes, is part of the ship’s bilge keelsons, which the Oxford Handbook of Maritime Archeology says were long timbers running most of the ship’s length, strengthening the keel.
It’s one of several fragments of the wreck to wash ashore over the years, said Laura Quackenbush, museum technician with park service. In fact, wreck fragments from the Jennie and Annie, as well as other ships which foundered off the dunes coastline, wash ashore once or twice a year.
“It’s a very dynamic shoreline,” she said. “It’s a common occurrence around there.”