Lake Superior South Shore, 2016. Part 17 Bayfield WI, Apostle Islands

Bayfield, WI is a pretty nice town on the South Shore of Lake Superior. It is the headquarters of the Apostle Island National Lake Shore.  The official population is less than 1,000 but in the summer visitors and summer residents make it seem much bigger. Bayfield has a large marina, ferry docks to Madeline Island and tour boat docks for sightseeing around the 22 Apostle Islands.  Fishing and lumber were the main industries a hundred years ago.  There is a very nice Maritime Museum and a great Bayfield County Historical Museum as well. It had a most unusual double pedestal sink in a display from one of the early barber shops..


Just across the channel from Bayfield is Madeline Island, the largest of the Apostle Islands and the only one not included in the National Lakeshore.  There is a small town there, La Pointe, some permanent residences and many summer residences as well. There is Big Bay State Park with a campground there and another large marina too.  We have taken the ferry to the island a couple of times, once with our bikes for a ride about.

Rudy and Carolyn and Susan and I signed up for the Grand Tour of the Apostle Islands on one of the tour boats.


We got out tickets, got in line and managed to get seats on the upper deck.  It was a nice sunny day, hats were a good idea.


The Grand Tour went by most of the islands and right by the lighthouses on Devils Island and Raspberry Island.  You can see where Sand Island is and right across from there is Little Sand Bay.  This channel is slowly filling in with sand (what else).  Today it is only 6-8 feet deep in most places. in the early 1900’s it was much deeper. grandtour

The Light Station at Devils Island marked the outer most point of land in this area and provided a reference point to ships passing by.


The light station is still in use although the light is now an automated electric lamp rather than a kerosene lamp shining through a Fresnel lens which allowed the light to shine out for as much as 20 miles.


The light station is open for visitors, there is a small boat landing, and has interpretive guides there to show you around. They are mostly volunteers who live here during the summer.  There are accommodations in the Keeper’s House for overnight visitors. Reservations required.The other buildings were for the Assistant Keepers and their families and for boilers to generate steam for the fog horns. Keepers often arrived for duty before the ice was out and stayed on the Island until late November. It was a rugged life with not many amenities.  Certainly not many shopping opportunities.

One of the interesting features id Devils Island is the dramatic change in rock type from one end of the island to the other.  From the vantage point of the cruise boat it was easy to see a pretty clear line of where the rock type changed. The side of the island facing the main lake is much softer sandstone which made for some pretty amazing sea caves.


The wave action carves away the softer rock creating the caves.  This day was pretty calm but you could still hear the whooshing and booming sounds of the waves going into the caves.  Look back at the Keepers House picture.  On a rough day waves would break over the cliff face up onto the yard and cover the house with spray.  in late October and November it would be ice.


We also went by the Light Station at Raspberry Island and a restored fishing camp.  During the fishing season, men would live at these camps all summer fishing and storing the catch. Big service boats would come by every day to pick up the fish.  It kept the fishermen on the lake longer.



It was a nice day on the lake.  There was ice cream when we got back to Bayfield and then spaghetti for all for supper.


A nice place to visit.  Way more to do than we had time for.  So we will go back.

More later,

Susan and Roger

Lake Superior South Shore, 2016. Part 16 Bayfield WI, Apostle Islands

Bayfield, WI is at the heart of the Apostle Islands.  Susan and I have been here many times for camping and sailing. Susan and came up here in the mid 1970’s with Joe Supplee to look at a fishing boat that was for sale.  Joe and I had grand ideas about making a fabulous lake cruiser out of it.

Lake Superior South Shore, 2016. Part 16 Bayfield WI, Apostle Islands
It was a classic Lake Superior trawler something like this.  What were we thinking.
We stayed this time at the Legendary Waters Campground at the Buffalo Bay Casino about three miles north of Bayfield.  When we got there the campground was nearly empty. It was the beginning of Labor Day Weekend so it filled up soon enough.
Looking out the front window of the coach we could see Rudy and Carolyn, the Lake and the north end of Madeline Island.
Only in MN will you see ice fishing trailers doing double duty as a camper.
They have wheels that crank up and down.  Wheels up, the trailer sits on the ground or the ice.
Around the end of the Bayfield Peninsula is a nice campground called Little Sand Bay.  It is a county campground right next to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore docks and kayak launch point.
This is the National Park Service’s Patrol boat. Two-three hundred HP outboards. Three Park Rangers (all women) took it out. Once clear of the harbor jetty it took off in a hurry. All of these boats are set up for rescue work, lots of towing equipment.
The next access point down the lake is at Meyer’s Beach  It is also a popular trail head. We went on a hike that we tried to do a couple years ago out to the Sea Caves.  Back then it was too muddy and the trail was closed.  This time it was OK but a lot of up and down and about five miles round trip.  The Sea Caves are hollowed out areas in the softer rock faces of the bluffs facing Lake Superior.  In the winters when the Lake freezes over people sign up to go out in small groups with a Park Ranger across the ice to the sea cave about 1.5 miles each way.
The cliffs are pretty amazing although from this vantage point it is hard to get the cave view.  Waves going into the caves make a whooshing and booming noise.
The ground is soft and crumbling.  Lots of signs warning to stay back from the edges.
At one point a large crack in the bluff had opened up maybe a hundred feet back into the top.
I am always trying to get wild life in the pictures.
Tomorrow we are going on a cruise around the Apostle Islands with Rudy and Carolyn.
More later,
Roger and Susan

Lake Superior South Shore, 2016. Part 15, Union Bay, Porcupine Mountains State Park

It is not far from Houghton to Union Bay Campground in Porcupine Mountains State Park, yup we are still in Michigan. Susan and I have been to the Porkies a couple times before, once in the late 70’s and a couple years ago.  Camping then was different from now.

The last time we were here about four years ago we stayed at the Ontonagon City Campground. we thought about staying there but they don’t take reservations so making sure you have a spot is tough although most week days in the summer they have openings.  There are a few choice spots right on the lake that would be nice.  We stopped in to check it out and there were two premium campsites coming open in the next two days that we could have had.  But we were only staying for three nights so Union Bay it was.

On our way back through Ontonagon we stopped at a small quilt shop. They sell other craft things as well but the owner is a very serious quilter.  Her husband collects and sells guitars at the shop as well.
Pictures hardly do her work justice.

There are many of her award winning quilts hanging in the shop. They are not for sale but for the right price she will make you one just like it.

The detail was amazing, all done in silk.

We also went to a rock shop where I found a very nice looking natural copper deposit piece.  The copper ore clings to the underlying rock.  Just the right size for our mantle.


Here is a picture of the copper piece, It took more than 20 tries to get it inserted, more than 20 Google failures. No explanation or help, just failures. Typical Google.

The next day we went to see Lake in the Clouds. This is a lake that is more than a mile long. It lies in a fold in the Earth’s crust that makes much of the basin of Lake Superior.  On the right in the picture is what is called the Escarpment. It is a long cliff face that forms the northern side of  The Lake in the Clouds basin.

A small river runs into the lake at the far end and out at this end.  This is mostly a wilderness backpacking park.  We were able to see hikers way down by the lake crossing the river.


It is quite a drop to the Lake of the Clouds. This formation heads to the east for several miles.

There were several early copper mines in this area most before the time of the Civil War. Most of the mines were north of the Escarpment towards the lake. They were likely to be found along streams where copper ore was found at the surface. Holes were dug into the stream banks looking for copper. These tunnels were small, just big enough to crawl though, all dug by hand with crude explosives.  There never was much copper found, some to be sure, but I would bet there are more miners to be found in these old tunnels than copper.

We also went to the far end of the park to the Presque Isle area to check out the Manabezo Falls on the Presque Isle River.

We had to go down a long stairway to get to a bridge over the river to see the falls.



And where it runs out into Lake Superior.  There are three falls along this stretch of the river. This one was easiest to get to.

 Rudy and Carolyn made it all the way down..


Susan and the whirlpool.

The porkies are a nice place to visit.  You really need to get out and do some hiking to appreciate what is here.  We will probably go back with more hiking on the agenda.

More later,

Roger and Susan

Lake Superior South Shore, 2016. Part 14, Copper Harbor

LOne day we drove up to Copper Harbor way up at the very end of the Keweenaw Peninsula. the road goes right up the middle of the peninsula following the mines which all lie on a particular geological feature created by upthrust and folding.  This is where the very hot high pressure water with dissolved copper laden chemicals was forced from deep in the earth up into cracks in the rocks. The copper deposits were formed as things cooled off.  The deposits follow the slope of the upthrust layers which is why all of the mine shafts are sloped rather than vertical.

Copper Harbor has a very nice Visitor’s Center. Inside were six very nice stained glass light fixtures made with copper, brass and glass. Quite ornate for a Visitor’s Center in a very small town. even the bathrooms were done in tile and local stone and small copper tiles, about 2″x2″, spaced out along the upper part of the tiles area.

We followed a small road and then down a dirt trail towards a small water fall. From all of the signs we thought it would be a big one but it was not.  Maybe in the spring.

We stopped at Eagle Harbor to check out the old Life Saving Service Station.


The Station was manned during the shipping season.  The early equipment included shore rescue equipment and eight man row boats. By the 1920’s much more robust motor boats were used. 

During a late November storm in 1926, the men at the station were notified that a ship, the THOMAS MAYTHAM, was hung up on rocks some 40 miles away. Immediately, the rescue crew set off in their motorized boat and, after braving below-zero temperatures and towering waves, reached the ship and took on its 22 crew members. On the return trip, the lifesaving crew spotted an abandoned ghostly ship so covered with ice and snow that they barely recognized it as a ship. This was the CITY OF BANGOR which had run hard aground. Her crew had made it to shore but were in grave danger of suffering from exposure. After dropping off the men of the Maytham, the station’s crew had to return in another boat to rescue the 29 man crew of the City of Bangor and her unusual cargo, over 248 brand new Chryslers bound for Duluth. 

18 cars were lost in the storm and the cars on the decks were covered in snow and ice. A rescue mission chopped the cars free and drove them down a snow and ice ramp. Drivers were paid $5 to return the cars to Detroit for rehab. One of these cars is still at the Eagle Harbor Light House Museum.

Another interesting day, you never know what you are going to see until you stop and look.  So much gets missed in the hurry up drive by road trips.

This trip seems much faster paced to us than we would normally like. Part of that is because we are traveling with others who haven’t been here before.  And it has been nice to share this part of the country with them.

Douglas and Amanda are heading off in a different direction when we leave here. We are heading to a couple of days in the Porkies with Rudy and Carolyn and then to Bayfield and Duluth.

More later,

Roger and Susan

Lake Superior South Shore, 2016. Part 13, Keweenaw Peninsula

The Keweenaw Peninsula is home to copper mining in this part of Michigan. Copper mining was actually done in many parts of the Upper Peninsula, on Isle Royale and on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. The really big successful mines are north of Houghton.  The expansion of telegraph lines and the introduction of electrical power in the 1800’s increased the need for copper. We visited two of the mines. 

The Quincy Mine is right in Hancock just across the river and up the hill.  This mine started in the mid 1800’s and was in production up until the Great Depression.  That shut it down and when things got better so much of the mine had flooded that they just closed it down.  Copper mines in Michigan produced about 11 billion pounds of copper.  The leader of the Quincy Mine tour said that they estimate that less than half of the copper has been removed.

We had to wear hard hats and jackets to look like miners for the tour.

We started in the remaining hoist house where immense steam engines drove a giant steel drum that had more than 3 miles of 1-1/2″ cable wound around it and threaded into the mine shaft.

The two ends of the cable went up to the shaft house and down more than 9,600 feet following the sloped mine shaft to the more than 60 levels where side shafts went off in to the hard rock looking for copper. Several different types of cars rode up or down the rails in the shaft. Some hauled water, some ore, some miners depending on what needed to be moved. Miners rode down in a 30 man car with no lights and the top of the shaft just inches from their heads.  The bottom of the mine was more than 6,000 ft below the surface.  There are more than 320 miles of tunnels following the copper deposits in this mine.

We rode down a steep inclined railroad to a drainage tunnel that lead into level 3 (of more than 60).

The tunnel has been enlarged by students from Michigan Tech University’s mining school while learning how to drill and blast.  Boy, I would have like to have had that class.  Now with and enlarged tunnel an electric tram can carry visitors into an underground area to see how mining was done.  It actually passed by a classroom for the mining students blasted out of solid rock..

At first the mining was mostly all done by hand in the very hard rock. Later powered drills and TNT improved productivity.  There was almost no safety equipment. An injury ended your career.  Most miners did well to last 20-25 years in the mines.  Every level below level three is flooded.

The early miners used candles for light that they had to buy themselves. So often a crew of three would only use one candle while one miner held the steel drill and the other two hit it with sledge hammers.  Four holes, two feet deep took this crew two 10 hr days to complete. Some black powder packed in the holes made some small headway into the rock.  Not a job I would have wanted.

It is amazing how hard these miners worked and how hard the work was.

We also visited the Central Mine which closed in the 1890’s. Susan’s early relatives worked at this mine. It was a very productive mine and had an entire town built up around the mine for the 1200 miners. Most of it is gone now except for a few buildings and sites.

We had to laugh at the visitor’s center. It was closed when we got there and in what must be Yooper Language, the sign said “Shut”.   A peek through the window revealed wooden floor boards that were probably 16″ wide.

Later the sign said “Open” and we got to have a look at the historical displays.. They have a picnic here every year for descendants of the miners, lots of people attend.

The drive home along the lake shore found some nice overlooks. The South Shore is really pretty nice.

Sorry about how some of this looks.  Try to do this blog on the iPad – it looks one way. Try to do this on the laptop – it looks completely different, different fonts, different picture placement.  and then it gets published and it doesn’t look like either on the blog and if you are getting the email feeds, it looks different there as well.  If you are going to do a blog start with WordPress or anything other than Google Blogger. 

More later

Roger and Susan

Lake Superior South Shore, 2016. Part 12, Houghton, MI. Ranger III

It is quite easy to get behind posting about this trip. I am trying to catch up.

After a week in Munising we headed over to Houghton, MI halfway up the Keweenaw Peninsula.

We stayed in the Houghton City Campground with full hookups available for those who prefer it that way.  It is right on the channel that splits the Keweenaw Peninsula.  Hancock MI is on the other side of the channel.  We had nice campsites. Nice view of some nice wooden boats going by and the lift bridge.


The lift bridge goes up high enough so that ships can go under it.  It is a double deck bridge, cars used the upper deck and trains used the lower deck.  There are no trains anymore so in the summer the lower deck is used for cars and most boats can get under.  In the winter they lower it down and cars use the upper deck and snowmobiles use the lower deck.

Amanda and Douglas got everyone tickets for a three hour cruise (lot of Gilligan and the Skipper jokes) on the Ranger III, the National Park Service passenger and cargo ferry to Isle Royale National Park out in the middle of Lake Superior. 

The Ranger III is the largest moving thing the National Park Service owns.  It makes three round trips a week to Isle Royale. The trip each way takes about 5 1/2  hours. Being from Minnesota we were always thinking that Isle Royale was a wilderness park.  That is likely because the ferry from Grand Marais, MN goes to the western end of the island.  From Michigan all of the ferries go to the eastern end of the island where there is a lodge, stores and cabins for rent!  We were shocked! 

The cruise went from Houghton east through the channel to Lake Superior on the east side of the Keweenaw Peninsula and back.  There was the six of us and 122 college kids scheduled to be on the ship.  Only about 40 of the college kids showed up so we had plenty of room and the “senior faculty” got to sample all of the goodies they brought along for the 122 ravenous kids. The 40 ate what they could and we rummaged through the left overs.  Lots of fun.  And it was the 100th Birthday of the National Parks that day.  So Happy Birthday to our national treasures and thanks Amanda and Douglas for the treat.

The sun set over the canal each evening one of which featured baby back ribs, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole on the patio.  It sure is easy when everyone pitches in.

Lots of bike riding here as well, great bike trails along the channel in both directions.  Susan and I rode our bikes to the Farmer’s Market. S&R and A&D rode to Pilgrim Point and back, about nine miles.  I figure we have done close to 50 miles on this trip so far.

More later.

Roger and Susan