Baraga, MI Tuesday, September 10, 2013
The exploration of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan continued today. It rained during the night but the morning started out clear. We attempted to visit Munising Falls but road construction that began Monday cut off access to the site.
We decided this was an omen and we decided to focus on several museums instead. Our first stop was the Maritime Museum of Marquette. Marquette was an early port for the lumber and iron ore shipping from the Upper Peninsula. They have a nice little museum and a lighthouse tour.
We passed on the lighthouse tour. After you have seen a few, there really is not a major difference between them. The museum had several lighthouse lens on display though.
Fresnel lens were developed in France in 1822 and proved extremely effective in focusing light in a concentrated pattern that was useful for lighthouses. However, the U.S. was slow to adopt them since the head of lighthouses was a friend of the person who developed the outdated system. It was not until the dept head retired in 1852 that the US implemented the Fresnel lens. They are ranked in size from first order to seventh order.
Most of the Fresnel lens on the Great Lakes were fourth order.
There were a few as large as second order. Each lighthouse had its own “characteristic”, determined by how long the light flashed and how long between flashes.
This Michigan museum also had a section devoted to one of its natives who served as a captain of a submarine which played a critical role in the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Pacific during WWII.
Marquette was the site of the first pocket dock. This was developed to more quickly load iron ore into freighters. The dock was constructed with “pockets” which held the entire contents of iron ore carried by a rail car. The pocket then emptied directly into a freighter by means of a chute. We passed one that had been taken out of service and one that was still used at a Marquette coal fired electrical generating plant.
The Iron Industry Museum is run by the Michigan Dept of Natural Resources and is located in Negaunee. Negaunee is about 10 miles west of Marquette and was the site of the first iron ore mines in Michigan. Eventually three major ore fields were discovered in Michigan, only two are still operating, both in the Negaunee area.
Michigan’s iron was instrumental in manufacturing during the Civil War. The museum and film highlighted the development of Michigan mining and was another worthwhile and educational stop.
The day was continuing to be cloudy with spotty drizzle. We passed up the US Skiing Hall of Fame to try our luck at Canyon Falls. The docent at Point Iroquis lighthouse a few days ago said this was not to be missed.
The falls are located directly on the road to Baraga. The hike through the forest was not too long and the drizzles minor. The falls though were anti-climatic. Minnesota says every body of water must be at least 10 acres in surface size to be considered a lake. Someone should mandate a minimum drop for waterfalls. The falls were pleasant, but not at all fantastic. Maybe we have become jaded.
After the falls, we stopped at the visitor center close to Baraga. The woman staffing the office gave us a waterfall map and guide. I told her we had just come from Canyon Falls and she asked how we liked it. I told her it was so-so and she was disappointed. Evidently it is the crown jewel in local waterfalls and we would be bound to be disappointed at the remaining ones on the list.
We located the La Rose Wellness Center which is our B and B for the next two nights. Dinner was at Carla’s Cafe (and motel), run by Carla and her husband since 1979. The Lake Superior whitefish was great and fresh from the lake.
Ed and Chris September 10