Category Archives: Upper Peninsula

My somewhat internet-free vacation to the Upper Peninsula

It wasn’t completely internet-free, because there was wifi at my Mom’s place and wifi at McDonald’s for the occasional stops and wifi at the very nice Dead River Cafe in Marquette. But for the most part the net was kept at bay, since T-Mobile data service ended at Pinconning and I was with a phone that didn’t have internet-everywhere coverage for the better part of a week.

There are a couple of places I would have liked to have captured in the moment while I was there with a camera and with Twitter to share them. For example, there’s the cutest little gazebo-like structure on the Iron Ore Heritage Trail underneath the LS&I railroad trestle. It’s cute until you realize that it’s there to deflect the ore pellets off the trail and off of the heads of passing bicyclists as they go under an active set of tracks.

I also missed there being a local wiki to look things up in (and to add my own commentary to) for the Upper Peninsula, along the lines of Ann Arbor’s Arborwiki. There’s a lot of history in the area that’s still relatively unwritten, and it would have been fantastic to have a place to store bits of commentary and observations without necessarily broadcasting a stream of social media to my long-suffering friends.

I’m back, not having missed Facebook much at all, and not having been tethered to a Twitter update stream, and only 100 messages behind in my inbox.


Semi overturns on Mackinac Bridge in storms of July 18, 2013

The photo below of an overturned semi-tractor trailer on the Mackinac Bridge is from Lora Brown, as posted to Facebook, and as reposted to Twitter by Kristi Steffen (@Upsilky66). The driver was not hurt, and the bridge has reopened.

The bridge is currently closed, with winds of over 65 mph as of 10:07 p.m. July 18, 2013.

The semi appears to be from Kuperus Trucking of Jenison, MI.

In the news: Up North Live, Mackinac Bridge shut down after semi tips over.

Lansing State Journal,

Iron money: economic isolation on the Upper Peninsula frontier

These are fragmentary notes – and a few links – regarding the introduction of "iron money" into the economy of Marquette County, Michigan, and the controversy surrounding it leading up to the 1876 Presidential election.


Panic of 1857.

Panic of 1873.

Newspaper accounts

The New York Times was in 1876 a Republican newspaper, and did not have the reputation it maintains today as a "newspaper of record". 

Tilden's Iron Currency, New York Times, July 19, 1876

A Swindler of Labor, New York Times, August 23, 1876

The Sham Reformer. New York Times, October 3, 1876

Tilden and the Iron Money, "Red Specular", New York Times, October 4, 1876

The Tilden Iron Money Question, "Red Specular", New York Times, October 5, 1876

Tilden's Sharp Tricks, New York Times, October 19, 1876

Magazine articles

The Legacy of Peter White, George Merk, Michigan History Magazine, Vol. 83, No. 3.  May-June 1999

Iron Money, William van Kosky, Michigan History Magazine v90 n2, March-April 2006


The Honorable Peter White, Ralph Williams, 1907

Fraud of the Century: Rutherford B. Hayes, Samuel Tilden, and the Stolen Election of 1876, Roy Morris Jr., 2004

Iron Will: Cleveland-Cliffs and the Mining of Iron Ore, 1847-2006, Reynolds and Dawson, 2011


Peter White papers, Bentley Historical Library, Ann Arbor MI

For 906 day, some photos of Marquette, MI from Shorpy

906 day (September 6) celebrates the area code of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. First I've heard of this holiday, but I heartily approve.

In honor of this day a couple of nice photos of Marquette, MI came via Shorpy. The photos of the harbor and ore docks, Front Street, and a panorama of downtown Marquette date from 1908 and 1909 and are from glass negatives from the Detroit Publishing Company.

A detail below shows the Hotel Janzen, with a train's smoke just to the left of it and a piece of City Hall at the far left.

Picture 21

July 2012 West Shore Pipeline spill leads to Upper Peninsula energy emergency

The West Shore Pipeline carries refined fuels from refineries near the southern end of Lake Michigan north to Green Bay, and from there fuel is carried by truck to the Upper Peninsula.

A spill on this pipeline near Milwaukee led to it being shut down for a time this week, and even though the pipeline is back in operation, the effects linger in the form of a fuel shortage in the UP. Prices have gone up because distributors need to make an extra long run from Milwaukee to get their supplies.

In response to this, Michigan’s Governor Snyder has declared a fuel emergency for the UP. From TV6 in Marquette:

The executive order makes drivers of gasoline trucks exempt from weekly hours of service restrictions to make sure demand is met.  The order remains in effect until it is rescinded or until August 7 at 11:59 p.m., whichever comes first.  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker also declared an energy emergency on Saturday.

As noted in the comments on the TV6 story:

Wow, I think for the first time ever there was a real reason for a spike in gas prices in the UP.

It’s always good to know the maps of key infrastructure so you can see after the fact how systems are interdependent. 

UPDATE July 26, 2012: The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that wells in the area of the pipeline spill have been contaminated. Story:

Private wells at three rural homes north of Western Ave. in the Town of Jackson are contaminated with gasoline that spilled out of a break discovered last week in a regional pipeline, a spokesman for West Shore Pipe Line Co. said Wednesday.

Benzene levels in water from the wells exceed the federal safe drinking water standard of 5 parts per billion, and those families will be provided bottled water. Benzene is known to cause cancer.


UPDATE October 9, 2013: The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel continues to track the spread of benzene from the gasoline spill. The story:

A July 2012 gasoline pipeline spill in the Town of Jackson is the likely source of benzene detected in a Village of Jackson municipal well in May of this year, a village consultant’s investigation determined.

This is the first contamination of a municipal well linked to the spill of 54,600 gallons of gasoline from a fuel distribution line owned by West Shore Pipe Line Co. of Illinois.

A total of 44 private wells in the town within a 1-mile radius of the spill have been contaminated with benzene or other gasoline compounds, records show.

Though well No. 6 is more than 2 miles northwest of the pipeline rupture, pumping of the well in early July determined it drew ground water out of fractured dolomite rock beneath the spill site in the 1800 block of Western Ave., according to the consultant’s report.

Duck Lake Fire, north of Newberry MI

Some sources for information on the Duck Lake Fire, which started on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 and is burning rapidly in Luce County, north of Newberry, MI. The fire is dangerous and has caused evacuations; if you are reading this and you are in the area, seek authoritative and current information from official sources.

The fire brings to mind the 2007 Sleeper Lake Fire which burned over 18,000 acres in Luce County. 

8:00 pm Wednesday, May 30 map (PDF). I'll have the image up shortly.

 At this point, the Duck Lake Fire area is 55 percent contained.

The latest estimate on structure loss is that there are 138 properties within the perimeter of the fire; 115 sites have been inspected to this point, with 23 sites remaining. Inspections are ongoing, and it is anticipated that they will be completed today. A total of 115 structures have been lost.


8:00 pm Tuesday, May 29 map. From the DNR:

The Duck Lake Fire team really needs to hear from people who have property located within the fire area (especially those property owners that may be out of state). U.P. residents call 211; all others call 800-338-1119. Please give your name, fire number and road, and contact info so we can provide updates as damage assessments are completed. (Folks who've already called and provided fire number and road name do NOT need to call again.) 


11:00 pm Sunday map: Duck Lake fire map from Sunday at 2040 (8:40 pm). Note the new dozer line at the south end of the fire, some expansion to the east, and a better detail on the western edge of the fire. The inset map now shows the fire in context relative to Newberry.


5:00 pm Sunday map: Duck Lake fire map from late Saturday night. DNR summary:

New GPS data show that the fire is now estimated to cover 20,255 acres. Forty-eight percent of the fire area is contained.

The south end of the fire is 14 miles north of Newberry and 7 miles west from Tahquamenon Falls State Park campgrounds. The fire is long and narrow and stretches 11 miles to the north to Lake Superior. There are currently 40 miles of fire line. Of that fire line, 6 miles is Lake Superior shoreline, 13 miles is completed line (includes County Road 500), and 21 miles is uncontained fire line. Access is very difficult with few roads.


4:00 pm Saturday map: Duck Lake fire map from Saturday a.m. Afternoon DNR summary:

The fire is now 21,114 acres in size, having grown slightly overnight. The south end of the fire is 14 miles north of Newberry and 7 miles west from Tahquamenon Falls State Park campgrounds. The fire is long and narrow and stretches 11 miles to the north to Lake Superior. The fire area includes 6 miles of Lake Superior shoreline and 29.5 miles of uncontained fire line. Access is very difficult with few roads.


11:00 pm Friday update: new fire map, marked 5-25-2012 1200. Compared to the one below from 0530, this shows expansion of the fire along the northeast and eastern edge and a new acreage estimate of 17935 acres burned. Courtesy Michigan DNR.


National Weather Service, Marquette, MI Duck Lake Fire Decision Support Hazard page. Weather and fire maps, radar and aerial imagery, and forecasts. This is a false color MODIS image from Friday, May 25, showing the burn scar and the plume of smoke heading towards the Soo. Facebook: US NWS Marquette.

image from

Michigan DNR. Web: Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Facebook: Michigan DNR. Posted Friday, May 25:

As of 7 a.m. Friday, May 25, the Duck Lake Fire in Luce County continues to grow and is approximately 17,000 acres. Air crews are working the fire and an incident management team is on the ground. Multiple structures have been lost and others are threatened. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been notified. Updates will be posted as information becomes available.

This fire map shows the situation as of Friday a.m.

20120525_Duck_Lake_PIO_386983_7The Weather Underground's Wundermap has a fire layer for the Newberry, MI area. This clip of the map taken at 8:00 pm Friday, May 25, 2012 shows a dense smoke plume over Tahquamenon Falls. 

Picture 30
FAA NOTAM 2/4255: Flights are restricted from the surface up to 8000 feet MSL in an area near Newberry in order to "provide a safe environement for fire fighting".

image from

Local news sources:

WNBY, AM 1450 in Newberry, MI is a good source of local news if you are in the area. The 1450 WNBY Facebook page is a rallying point for community news and information.


You can Depend on Newberry's Information Leader. We're going to get an update from the 4pm DNR briefing and will have the latest on the air on 1450 WNBY and here online . Very helpful that the DNR Office is across the road from Newberry's Radio Station. If you have pictures, updates or infomation you can call us at 906-293-3221 or email Travis in our News Center at .


Soo Evening News, "Fire burns toward Chippewa Co."

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said the blaze it’s calling the Duck Lake Fire was in an area north of Newberry that includes Lake Superior State Forest land and approached Lake Superior. It was detected Wednesday after a lightning strike and intensified Thursday — burning along the tops of jack pine trees in the forest.

WLUC-TVExtremely dangerous conditions as wildfire expands to 17,000 acres

Winds shifted early Friday morning, causing 50 mile an hour wind gusts to hit the fire and change directions of the blaze.  Gary Willis, Public Information Officer for the DNR, says the east end of the fire is now the head of the fire and that there was zero containment as of Friday morning.  Officials also say that flame heights reached 200 feet in some places.


WXYZ-TV Detroit / AP, Parts of Tahquamenon Falls park closed due to fire

The DNR says if the fire continues on its current path, it will get to within one mile of the Upper Falls viewing area by Friday night. Officials urged visitors to avoid the Tahquamenon Falls area during the Memorial Day weekend.

TV 9 and 10 News, Duck Lake Fire Update live blog:

Friday 6:00 pm update: Governor Snyder declares state of disaster in Luce and Schoolcraft counties. All state resources available to support response efforts. Snyder also issued Executive Order 2012-8 activating the National Guard to provide assistance. A hotline has been established for the public to check for status updates, call 855-440-6424 for the latest information.

 Fox 11, Wildfire in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Aerial photography, credited to the Michigan DNR, of the fire scenes.

image from

Message from President Andrew Jackson on the Ohio and Michigan Boundary, January 12, 1836

[Doc. No. 54.] 24th Congress, 1st Session. Ho. of Reps. Executive.

Ohio and Michigan Boundary





Reports from the Secretaries of State and War on the subject of the Ohio and Michigan boundary.

January 12, 1836.

Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

To the House of Representatives of the United States :

Having laid before Congress on the 9th ultimo, the correspondence which had previously taken place relative to the controversy between Ohio and Michigan, on the question of boundary between that State and Territory, I now transmit reports from the Secretaries of State and War on the subject, with the papers therein referred to.


Washington, January 11, 1836.

– 30 –

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