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: Main Street, St. Ignace

Seeking MichiganBy Mary Zimmeth, 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.

“. . . With the Martel furnace, Mackinac Lumber Company, and the iron ore docks in full blast, shipping ought to be lively next summer.”The Northern Spy[weekly newspaper], February 16, 1882.

St. Ignace bustled with development in 1882. The week before this issue of The Northern Spy, (February 6-15, 1882), a census was compiled of the population for the purpose of incorporating the village of St. Ignatius. The formal incorporation petition was sent to the Mackinac County Board of Supervisors on February 23, 1882. The board supported the petition, but changed the village’s name to St. Ignace. By March 14, 1883, St. Ignace became an incorporated city.

Weird Wednesday: Michigan Sea Monsters

The last Wednesday of every month is a “Weird Wednesday” on Absolute Michigan. Usually we get a feature from Linda S. Godfrey, the author that fascinating tome of Michigan mysteries: Weird Michigan. Linda is hard at work on her latest book so we’ve gone down to the vault and pulled out some watery weirdness! Stay up-to-date with the uncanny at and on Linda’s twitter.

at Mackinac
at Mackinac
:: a composite from -3 and -43 by Emery Co Photo

Sea Monster of the Straits

The authorities tried hard to convince the public what they saw were only giant catfish, but even the oldest, orneriest cats would be hard-pressed to attain a length of forty-five feet! The owner of a resort along the Cheboygan lakefront reported seeing something of just that size, and two of them, frolicking in the Mackinac Straits on Lake Huron in front of his property, about 600 feet from shore, according to an article in the June 25, 1976 Grand Rapids Press. The day after the resort owner called authorities about it, Cheboygan County Sheriff Stanley McKervey stopped by to have a look for himself. To his surprise, he also was able to observe one of the creatures. “I went down to the beach, and sure enough, I’m looking at something 20, maybe 30 feet long, swimming just below the surface,” he said in the article. “I was amazed. I didn’t know what it was, but it sure wasn’t a publicity stunt.”

The sheriff continued watching the creature through binoculars. It only rose about an inch above water level, he said, but any disturbance on shore would cause it to dive deeper again. And that’s exactly what happened when the sheriff ordered a couple of deputies to surveil the thing in a canoe. It was gone long before the pair got there. Unfortunately, rough water conditions set in the next few days and no one could go out for another look. It wasn’t observed again, and other experts theorized that perhaps it was a giant eel or carp. But neither of those sound like what the sheriff and the resort owner saw!

Lake Leelanau Monster

The story of an early 20th Century sea monster sighting was sent to The Shadowlands Web site by a reader whose great-grandfather was the witness. The boy was fishing for perch one day in 1910 in the shallows of Lake Leelanau in Leelanau County. The lake had been dammed in the late 1800′s to provide water power for the local mill and to enable logging. The dam also flooded much surrounding area, turning it into swamps and bogs punctuated by dead, standing trees.

On that particular day, the young great-grandfather, William Gauthier, rowed out to a new fishing spot near the town of Lake Leelanau. Looking for good perch habitat, he paddled up close to a tree that he estimated to stand about five feet tall above the water, with a six-inch trunk. He was in about seven feet of water, and after deciding this would be a good place to stop and cast a line, began tying the boat to the tree.

That’s when young William discovered the tree had eyes. They were staring him dead in the face at about four feet above water level. The boy and serpent exchanged a long gaze, then the creature went, “Bloop” into the water. Gauthier said later that the creature’s head passed one end of the boat while the tail was still at the other end, though it was undulating very quickly through the water. Uncanny RadioThe writer noted that Gauthier always admitted to having been thoroughly frightened by his encounter, and that the event caused him to stay off that lake for many years.

The writer added that his great-grandfather came from a prominent area family and was very well-educated, and that he knew others who would admit privately but not publicly that they, too, had seen the creature. No sightings have been reported in recent times, but who knows how many people have believed they were passing by a rotting old cedar when in fact they had just grazed the Leelanau lake monster?

Michigan Memorial Day Weekend Travel

Pretty clouds distract me as I drive by merebearlandon
Pretty clouds distract me
as I drive by merebearlandon

Memorial Weekend is the launch of the summer travel season. AAA Michigan estimates that 1.1 million Michigan residents will travel on state roads this Memorial Day weekend, paying 11 1.2 cents less per gallon of gasoline as compared to last week (and maybe even less by the weekend).

They list the top 10 Michigan destinations as reported by their members – check the links to read about what there is to see and do from Absolute Michigan and feel welcome to post where you’re going!

  1. Traverse City
  2. Mackinaw City
  3. Petoskey
  4. Frankenmuth
  5. Munising
  6. Sault Ste. Marie
  7. Boyne Mountain
  8. Saugatuck/Douglas
  9. Dundee
  10. Lansing

Speaking of summer travel, here’s a classic video that we get sent all the time!

Mystery of the Copper Turtle

CopperTurtleA stolen copper turtle, a monstrous green Gi-bi, a haunted music hall, and a man missing from the Governor’s Conference—suddenly, Jared and Sadie’s boring summer perks up!

Jared, Sadie and their new Mackinac Island friends Eric and Becky find themselves turning into detectives as strange events occur all over the island. Native American art and artifacts are vanishing from gift shops and art galleries. At the Governors’ Conference, Dr. Royalton is demanding that Great Lakes water be diverted for use by states in the southwest—and then he disappears! As the four teenagers explore the island and its historical sites looking for clues, they find themselves facing an evil Gi-bi who locks them in a dungeon. Will they get out in time to save Dr. Royalton? Will they discover who stole the copper turtle and other art from the island stores? Eric and Becky’s cousin Luke keeps interfering in their investigation. Is he involved or just the jerk Jared thinks he is? How is all this connected—or is there more than one mystery to solve?

Mystery of the Copper Turtle is the first of the Big Mitten Mysteries, a series of books for the young reader set in locations around Michigan. Look for Jared, Sadie and more of their adventures in The Mystery of the Voyageur’s Rendezvous, available for Christmas, 2009.

Published by Arbutus Press you can purchase the book online though

Michigan Books: A Picturesque Situation: Mackinac Before Photography, 1615-1860 by Brian Leigh Dunnigan

Mackinac before Photography, 1615-1860 (Wayne State University Press) — Essential reading for anyone interested in the history of Mackinac Island and the people that have lived there, Dunnigan’s impressive collection of pre-photographic images of the Mackinac region draws from decades of research. Rare maps, plans, drawings, sketches, engravings and paintings, all in full color, are enhanced by the highly readable text. This is Dunnigan’s second time on the Michigan Notable Books list.

From the era of European exploration to the beginning of the Civil War, the Straits of Mackinac were a crucial link in the westward water transportation system of the United States. As the primary route to Lake Michigan and the Mississippi Valley, the Straits were a highway for the fur trade, a hotbed of military outposts, and one of the first settled areas of Michigan. Later, the natural beauty of the Straits, and particularly of Mackinac Island, led to the popularity of the area as a nineteenth-century tourist destination. A Picturesque Situation uses documents, maps, drawings, and prints to illustrate the unique history of the Straits from 1615 to 1860.

Beginning in the seventeenth century, Native Americans, soldiers, missionaries, traders, explorers, and scientists recorded their impressions of the Straits of Mackinac in letters, reports, diaries, books, and legal and financial documents. Military officers noted fortifications and topography, surveyors mapped boundaries, cartographers defined local geography, and travelers sketched scenery and local personalities. All of these rare and important glimpses of Mackinac before the age of the camera are elegantly presented in this oversized, full-color volume. The text of A Picturesque Situation complements its many images by detailing their history and incorporating the words and descriptions of people who visited or lived at the Straits before 1860.

Although much has been written about the history of the Straits of Mackinac, most works focus on narrow aspects of its history. Michigan historians and those interested in life in the pre–Civil War United States will appreciate the broad and striking picture of the Straits painted by A Picturesque Situation.

Published by Wayne State University Press

More Michigan Notable Books! The Michigan Notable Books program annually selects 20 of the most notable books published in the year. The selections are reflective of Michigan’s diverse ethnic, historical, literary, and cultural experience. You can click to view more Notable Books featured on Absolute Michigan and learn more about the program at