Sunset on Mackinac

Stephanie of Stephanie Stevens Photography recently added a few timelapses from Mackinac Island to the Absolute Michigan pool on Flickr. About her incredible timelapse of Mackinac Island harbor at sunset, she writes:

Hour & a halfish time lapse of Mackinac Island as the sun goes down, with ferries coming & going, horse carriages & bicycles on the streets, people in the park, & even some glowing Frisbees. :)

Watch it in HD and definitely check out Stephanie’s Flickr, her photography site and also a timelapse of stars at Arch Rock. More from Mackinac on Absolute Michigan.

Seeking Michigan: Battle for Wexford County!

Seeking MichiganBy Brenda Irish, courtesy Archives of Michigan and courtesy Seeking Michigan and the Archives of Michigan. The goal of Seeking Michigan is simple: to connect you to the stories of this great state. Visit them regularly for a dynamic & evolving look at Michigan’s cultural heritage and see more stories from Seeking Michigan at Absolute Michigan.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the September/October 2006 issue of Michigan History Magazine.

Mitchell Street in Cadillac, circa 1915

Mitchell Street in Cadillac, circa 1915

The fight for the Wexford County seat is a story of bribery, corruption, intimidation, inebriated county officials and the organization of illegal townships to boost votes.

The Election

Cadillac’s decade-long struggle for the county seat came to a head on April 4, 1882, when ballots were cast throughout the county to determine whether the coveted prize should be moved from Manton to Cadillac. Twelve months earlier, residents of Cadillac and Manton had united to remove the county seat from Sherman to Manton. Now Cadillac was determined to secure the prize for itself.

Feeling duped by Cadillac, Manton residents were furious. A couple of townships destroyed their ballots, refusing to make a return. But when the “official” count of the April 4 vote was totaled, the results were overwhelming: 1,363 “yes” voters favored moving the county seat to Cadillac, while 309 voted “no.”

Battle of Manton, Part I

Main Street in Manton, circa 1915

Main Street in Manton, circa 1915

In the early dawn following the election, a train left Cadillac with the sheriff and twenty “specially deputized” men and headed to Manton to collect the county property. Legend has it that the train backed quietly into a sleeping Manton, coming to a halt in front of the courthouse. Within a half hour, most of the county records and much of the furniture was aboard the train. As the Cadillac faction attempted to remove the first of three safes from the courthouse, however, Manton residents awoke.

There are two different versions of what happened next. Cadillac’s version tells of a mob of over two hundred Manton men who drove off the small band of deputies.

Manton’s version claims the city was deserted and only a handful of men were in town. Although outnumbered, these “brave few” quickly gathered at the courthouse and confronted the heavily armed “Cadillackers.” The safe was overturned, Cadillac men produced firearms and a drunken county clerk urged the murder of the Mantonites. Nonetheless, the Mantonites managed to force the attackers “back to Cadillac in fear.”

Battle of Manton, Part II

The Cadillac faction returned home where they were greeted by an ever-increasing jovial crowd. When the crowd learned that three county safes of records remained in Manton, a second invasion of Manton was planned. Cadillac beefed up its force to include not only the sheriff and his deputies, but also city officials, many of Cadillac’s finer citizens and several hundred mill hands. Provisions consisted of a barrel of whiskey and fifty repeating rifles donated from a local hardware store. Some Cadillac citizens bought clubs, poles, brooms and crowbars.

Again, there are two versions of the second assault on Manton. Cadillac’s version is that they numbered three hundred men and were cautioned by the sheriff to avoid violence or damage to property. When they arrived in Manton, they found a waiting angry mob made up of every able-bodied citizen of Manton and most of the farmers from miles around. Cadillac claims Manton attempted to hang the county clerk and that Manton women rallied to grease the rails with lard and butter to make the tracks too slippery for the train to move.

Manton’s story claims “an unopposed invasion by a drunken mob of five hundred to six hundred men, led by a drunken sheriff and clerk.” The sheriff ordered that the courthouse be demolished and turned his men loose onto Manton streets “like a pack of crazed hounds.”

A New County Seat

While we may never know the full extent of what took place during the “Battle of Manton” on April 5, 1882, we do know it was a highly charged confrontation. Weapons were carried and injuries did occur. There were no deaths. Fortunately, the only gunshots fired that day were those in celebration on the victorious return trip to Cadillac with the county safes – and Wexford’s new county seat.

Editor’s Note #2: Regular Absolute Michigan contributor Joel Dinda pointed out a discussion of the Battle of Wexford on Flickr that he was a part of that’s pretty entertaining.

Roundup: Opening Day of Michigan deer hunting season

Buck on the run by oakwood

Opening day of deer season probably ranks pretty high in the list of Michigan holidays. The Michigan DNR has all the details on deer hunting in Michigan, including a reminder that much public land is open to hunting – be aware!

Michigan saw just 650,000 hunters last season, but that number is expected to climb to about 700,000 for the November 15-30 firearm deer season. As in 2011, some of these will be 10 and 11 year-olds due to Michigan’s Hunter Heritage Act. The Michigan DNR is your best source for information and their MI-Hunt program allows you to locate public lands open to hunting.  There’s also a lot more info from the White-tail Deer Portal from the DNR and MSU.

The Battle Creek Enquirer says that while “up north” was the place to be in years past, that trend has slowly changed to the point where southern Michigan is seen to offer the best hunting and has produced the highest number of deer killed. They also say that:

This year, however, there is a wild card: Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease.

EHD is an often-fatal disease transmitted to deer by midges. Late this summer, an EHD outbreak was confirmed in Ionia County. It eventually spread throughout most of southern Michigan. In late October, the disease had been confirmed in 30 counties and accounted for a minimum of 12,000 dead deer – a number that accounts for only those deer reported to the DNR. The actual number of deer lost is anyone’s guess.

The DNR is asking for your help in reporting dead deer from EHD. One bright spot is that EHD does not affect humans, so edibility of the venison is not impacted by this disease.

An excellent, in-depth report from Bridge Magazine last year titled Deer have Michigan on the run is still relevant. It explains that:

The number of hunters in Michigan has been shrinking since the 1960s, according to state data. Hunting license sales have decreased 15 percent over the past 15 years, from 934,430 in 1995 to 786,880 last year.

The ranks of hunters are shrinking nationwide. But the effects of that trend are especially prevalent in Michigan, where deer dominate vast areas of the landscape, hunters are the primary method for keeping the herd in check and revenue from the sale of hunting licenses funds many of the state’s wildlife management programs.

Fewer hunters mean: Less money for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to manage wildlife; less money to maintain forests, marshes and other areas where birds and mammals reside; less money for conservation officers who keep poachers in check; and less money for small businesses that count hunters among their best customers.

It also means more deer – read on to learn about the impacts of our 1.7 million deer.

In another great article from last year, noted that Opening Day is Michigan’s other Black Friday, as deer hunters spend an average of $800 each, making deer hunting a half a billion dollar industry in Michigan. The Freep adds a feature on hunting gear that’s made in Michigan. If you are gearing up, be sure to look in on our Sporting Goods section.

Happy hunting!

Election 2012: Michigan Edition

did you?In just a few short hours, Michigan residents (hopefully including our readers) will head to the polls.

We at Absolute Michigan have a straightforward and simple endorsement in 2012 – that you get out and vote. Michigan needs active & engaged citizens and you can be one of them.

Beyond the Presidential contest and the US Senate race, there are a whopping 6 statewide ballot proposals a lot of regional & local issues and candidates.

A great place to find out what you’ll be voting on is at, a Michigan-produced website that will show you your actual ballot.


Pure Michigan Statewide Sing-along premiers

Rob Bliss & Jeff Barrett, creators of the fantastic Grand Rapids lip dub video premiered their Pure Michigan Statewide Sing-along at halftime of the Lions game on Sunday. It was filmed in 50 Michigan cities in 7 days. It’s a pretty cool travelogue of the Great Lakes State in under 4 minutes.

Check out the finished video below and also don’t miss the behind the scenes blog from

Michigan’s Economy Hits 10 Year High

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) reports that Michigan’s economy has reached a 10-year high, according to Comerica Bank’s Michigan Economic Activity Index. The June index jumped 2.0 points in June, spiking to a level of 105.9 – its highest level since 2002. The index has averaged 102 points over the first half of 2012, 11 points above the index average for all of 2011.

“The Michigan economy pushed further ahead in June, with our Michigan Economic Activity Index up strongly for the second month,” said Robert Dye, Chief Economist at Comerica Bank. “The rate of job creation has slowed over the first two quarters of the year as U.S. auto sales have plateaued around a 14 million unit annual sales rate in 2012. But outside of durable goods manufacturing, we are seeing ongoing gains. Housing markets statewide are improving as sales and prices increase. New home construction remains low, but is expected to increase to meet pent up demand.”

The Michigan Economic Activity Index consists of seven variables: nonfarm payrolls, exports, sales tax revenues, hotel occupancy rates, continuing claims for unemployment insurance, building permits, and motor vehicle production. All data are seasonally adjusted, as necessary, and indexed to a base year of 2004.

According to the Michigan Association of Realtors, the number of single family homes sold in Michigan rose 14 percent in July compared to one year earlier. The July 2012 average sales price was $116,116, a 6.55 percent increase over the 2011.

Overall, Michigan is leading the country in economic recovery, according to the Detroit News. The dropping unemployment rate, upswing in home sales and increase in consumer spending are all evidence of a positive outlook for the Great Lakes state.

M-22 & M-119 Road Sign Trademark Denied by Michigan

Note: We have received some commentary from the attorney for M-22 which we have posted below!

M-22 Euphoria by Chris Cerk
M-22 Euphoria by Chris Cerk

The Detroit Free Press reports that M-22 and M-119 cannot be trademarked by private companies. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has ruled that the highway sign logos are public property and as such cannot be “commandeered” for private use.

“Because the State of Michigan, the creator of the design, placed the Michigan highway route marker design in the public domain, no entity can lawfully obtain intellectual property protection of the design under trademark or copyright law,” Schuette concluded.

“…The fact that they have appropriated the design from the public domain and affixed it to merchandise does not create a legitimate basis for trademark protection.”

That’s probably not the best news at M-22, the clothing business that has made the sign an iconic symbol of active life in northwest lower Michigan, but it doesn’t look like the ruling precludes them selling clothing and other products with the road sign on it.

Speaking of M-22, they  are holding their annual M-22 Challenge this weekend at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The annual bike/run/kayak triathalon is a pretty cool spectator event if you’re in the area!

Here’s M-22 and M-119 (aka the Tunnel of Trees) on Wikipedia.

Commentary from Enrico Schaefer, Founding Partner at Traverse Legal, PLC

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette must know that trademarks, copyrights and other IP are matters of federal law. The State has no say in the matter. His opinion has no force under law at all. More importantly, his “opinion” is severely misguided and uninformed. Taken to its conclusion, no artist or photographer can have intellectual property rights in their artwork or photographs of state parks, buildings, landscapes, roads, etc. Public universities, funded with public dollars, could not hold IP either in their logos, trademarks or patents. Neither could the state of Michigan protect, for instance, its Pure Michigan campaign which has tens of millions of dollars invested in its campaign. It is also important to note that trademarking these road signs has literally no impact on the public domain rights. Assuming that these companies who have invested time and money creating IP rights around road signs to create valuable brands (no easy tasks for sure), the only impact is to keep someone from copying that use as a trademark. All other non-trademark uses, for instance to identify location, as always permitted. By limiting the trademark use to a single business who (a) was first in the market and (b) invested substantial money and risk in creating the market), companies are created which generate tax revenue and jobs. Without trademark protection, consumers are left with cheap knock-offs and imitations. Consumers can not identify source and the market is destroyed. What Schuette fails to comprehend is that without trademark protection, there can be no Nike or Microsoft or Google. Consumers would not buy products based on brand because consumers could never gauge quality based on a trustworthy source.

Thank goodness his overreaching is without effect, since the adverse impact to the Michigan intellectual property economy could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars or more. This appears to be just another example of overzealous government bureaucrats trying to expand their reach and control over Michigan businesses. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette proves once again he knows nothing about commerce and business. He has certainly proven he knows little about intellectual property.

Photos & Video from the Duck Lake Fire

We’ve collected some photos, video and reports from the Duck Lake Fire. Photos are all courtesy the Michigan DNR.

“This fire is an eye-opener for a lot of people. In the 1930s and ’40s, we had a lot of major fires go through this country and burn a lot of old forests, but we’ve gotten complacent since then. These things can really blow up.”
~Veteran Crystal Falls DNR firefighter Jeff West

Updated May 31 In mLive’s article on the Duck Lake Fire, Jeff West ranked the fire at an 8 or 9 on a scale of 1-10. Today’s DNR report (May 31) says that cooler temperatures Wednesday evening allowed fire crews to get to 57% containment of the fire. There are 40 miles of fireline in this long narrow fire (see map) that has destroyed 132 of 138 structures within its 21,458 acre area.

By contrast, the Sleeper Lake Fire from 2007 was estimated to have burned 18,000 acres. The Christian Science Monitor explains that this is it’s the 2nd largest fire since 1980′s 25,000 acre fire near Mio and the massive 1.1 million acre Great Michigan Fire of 1871 that killed over 200 people.

Today Gov. Rick Snyder toured the fire zone. He heard complaints about cellphone coverage and residents wanting earlier notification. U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow also visited the fire command center in Newberry today, pledging to bring FEMA dollars to help rebuild the destroyed buildings.

If you’re looking to donate to help the firefighters, mLive has the details on Red Cross and Duck Lake Fire Center needs. They go through 488 bananas a day “to get their potassium back in their bodies because they sweat so much.” Skip the candy (except for suckers) in favor of bottles of water & Gatorade and energy bars and beef jerky snacks. The firefighters also need moleskin shoe liners to protect their feet from heat, bandanas and “socks, socks and more socks.”

Tahquamenon Falls State Park remains closed due to the proximity of the Duck Lake Fire in Luce County, and there is currently no estimate on when the Park will re-open.

You can also see some aerial video of the fire from the Michigan DNR.

Yooper Secession: Talk in the Upper Peninsula of a 51st State

Don't Mess With A Yooper by siskokid
Don’t Mess With A Yooper by siskokid

The Detroit Free Press reports that the topic of the U.P. seceding from Michigan to form the 51st state was raised at the last Marquette County Board of Commissioners meeting:

“Don’t you think it would be kind of nice to start from scratch?” asked Marquette County Commissioner Mike Quayle, who first raised the issue with the commission. “It would be kind of interesting to see what kind of government we could form up here. Maybe we could be a showcase for the rest of the United States.”

This isn’t the first time there has been talk of the U.P. shedding itself of the trolls. (Trolls are creatures who live under the bridge, in this case, the Mackinac Bridge.) U.P. secession has come up periodically ever since Michigan lost what’s called the Toledo War in 1836, and ended up with the U.P. instead of Toledo. The Michigan Legislature defeated U.P. secession by a single vote in the 1970s.

…The bottom line, folks in the U.P. say, is that Lansing takes a whole lot more in tax dollars than the U.P. gets back. And in this peninsula with only about 3% of the state’s population but more than 30% of the land, that’s just not cutting it.

“I feel that they’re attempting to use the U.P. as a resource colony,” said Catherine Parker of Marquette, who said she sees an increased interest from lawmakers in cashing in on the U.P.’s mineral and timbering resources.

Click through to read more, check out a video from WZZM-13 on the topic, read about some ideas for the new state’s symbols & slogans and click for the Wikipedia entry on various proposals for the state of Superior.

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    Making A Splash — 2nd Annual Benzie County Water Festival Promises Family Fun

Making A Splash — 2nd Annual Benzie County Water Festival Promises Family Fun

by Aubrey Ann Parker

Springtime at the Betsie River by forestlady
Springtime at the Betsie River by forestlady

Did you know that the average American uses 150 gallons of water per day, with 60 percent being used outside to water our lawns and wash our cars? The entire United States withdraws about 350 billion gallons of fresh water every day — which is about how much water runs over Niagara Falls for 23 days straight — and about 80 percent of that is used for agriculture to grow our food and by industry to cool the electricity-generating power plants that keep our lights on. So, whether you are watering your lawn or buying groceries or leaving your lights on, most of the decisions you make every day ultimately relate back to water.

Last year’s Benzie County Water Festival — a family-oriented celebration and education event — attracted more than 300 attendees, and this year’s festival seeks to follow last year’s example. On Saturday, April 14, 2012 the Water Festival will again feature world-class Michigan musicians, panel discussions, speeches from water luminaries, interactive multimedia projects and presentations, artisan foods and beverages, visual art, children’s activities, as well as connections to local campaigns and projects, all at the Frankfort-Elberta High School. (click for schedule)