Feb 12-07

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2007: February: Feb 12-07
Distant beacon    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Betty Maxson
Whitefish Point complex    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Betty Maxson

Mary Drew at Pasty Central (Mdrew) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 08:14 am:

Standing like a sentinel on Whitefish Bay, this lighthouse is one of the first lighthouses on Lake Superior (along with Copper Harbor Lighthouse) and is the oldest active light on the Big Lake also. Winter slows down the traffic around the point, once the shipping season is at a standstill, but Betty Maxson made a trek to the site and snapped a couple of good shots for us. The first one from off in the distance shows the beacon lit up and ready to guide you to the point. For the second photo, Betty climbed up to the hawk counting platform to get a good shot of the buildings that make up the complex, along with Gitche Gumee all iced in around the bay. Speaking of the perch Betty used for this photo, did you know that Whitefish Point isn't only busy with ships passing by? Because of its location, it is a prime spot for bird watching too. This is the spot where birds that are flying along Lake Superior make a crossing from Canada to Whitefish Point or vice versa in the spring.

By Deb S. (Usedtobeayooper) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 08:15 am:

Wonderful pictures. Have never been there but it's definitely on the list of things to do.

By Charlotte, Mishawaka, IN (Charlotte61) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 08:21 am:

Good snowy morning from Mishawaka, IN. Been to Whitefish many times. Saw it in the fall for the first time last Sept. A winter view is next on my list.

By Janie T. (Bobbysgirl) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 08:33 am:

A lot of interesting and neat things to see here! When Bob and I vacationed here it was one of our best ever!

By Smfwixom (Trollperson) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 08:47 am:

Thanks for the great pics - it's one of my favorite places!

By Erica - Florida Keys (Erica) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 08:54 am:

This is as nice a spot in the winter as it is in the summer...just beautiful!

By Brooke (Lovethekeweenaw) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 09:05 am:

Great Picture, we like going up there its a great view. My son loves the shipwreck museum (typical boy if it goes he likes it). The Bell for the Edmund Fitzgerald is amazing, makes you realize the risk the sailers take even in modern times.

By Robert H. Baker (Rhb) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 09:15 am:

Boy that sure looks great.Spent some time on that beach. Is it true that they dont allow agate hunting there anymore? Great picture Betty

By Heikki (Heikki) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 09:25 am:

The word "lake" is almost a misnomer as it applies to the Great Lakes. Even ocean-going ships sail warily when a good nor'easter blows! I've seen many saltwater sailors pass up the chow line when tossed about on Lake Michigan during sea trials of newly-constructed USN ships. Something about the periodicity of the waves that sets the ol' stomach a'churnin'. :-)

By Eddyfitz (Eddyfitz) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 10:13 am:

Here is info on the great museum that is now located at Whitefish Point.They do have overnite accomodations also.


By Ray Laakaniemi (Rlaakan) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 10:27 am:

I am not a promoter by nature but I would promote a visit to the Shipwreck Museum just north of Paradise. One of the interesting things you will find is that many of the shipwrecks were not caused solely by lake conditions, but by turning left without signals, driving too fast for the foggy conditions, and like pilot errors. Quite interesting. Well worth a visit.

By Marianne Y (Marianne) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 10:43 am:

I love all lighthouse picts, as I am a lighthouse fan. I haven't been to the one at Whitefish Point yet, but it is on my list of lights to see. It is teeming with history, especially since the Fitzgerald went down not far from there! Gordon Lightfoot's song has always been a favorite, with its haunting verse & music.

Thanks for a winter view of this historical light!

By Kathyrn Laughlin (Kathyl) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 11:06 am:

Whitefish Point is fairly common day trip for us, coming from Cheboygan. I had not seen it under those conditions, though; very nice.

For anybody interested in Great Lakes shipwrecks, I recommend a book titled "Great Lakes Shipwrecks and Survivals" by William Ratigan. In one of the early sections he mentions the same phenomenom that Heikki referred to: Great Lakes waves are NOT like saltwater waves. Freshwater is less dense and moves quicker, making for sharper, more frequent waves. The most recent version of the book has a chapter about the Fitzgerald, also on the old icebreaker Mackinaw.

And yes, it was interesting in the shipwreck museum finding out how many wrecks were caused by traffic.

By dotti caldwell (Dotti) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 11:10 am:

Lovely views. Stirs my imagination. Would love to visit someday! For the views and history! Thanks!

By k j (Kathiscc) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 11:30 am:

Great Pix! Hey- Ray L. Pretty funny.-We liked the shipwreck museum, too.
Heikki- When we took our sunset cruise on Superior they said the waves are worse than the ocean because when they come in, they bounce off the land and so then you get not just the first waves, but then the other waves coming back at you. (Did that make sense? Obviously not the technical explanation).

By Gonna be a Yooper (Joanie) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 11:50 am:

Postcard quality pictures! Wonder what made the tracks in the snow? Big Foot?

By Marianne Y (Marianne) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 11:53 am:

Yes, Kathisc, your explanation does make sense. Mother Superior, as huge as she is, is still smaller than the open ocean, so the waves bounce off the shore so the period (distance/time) between the waves would be shorter, ie the waves are closer together, and you do get waves from the body of water, and you get the waves coming back at you from the shore. It's a good thing that Mother Superior is as deep as she is (but she is much shallower than most oceans), as you would see even higher waves if Superior were shallower.

You can see sudden storms come up on the inland lakes, and there is a noticeable difference in the waves between the shallower & deeper lakes (ie, Houghton Lake, shallow, vs Higgins Lake, deeper, here in the lower peninsula).

Speaking of large waves, etc, they are finding that there is a phenomena of very large (at least 50-ft), occasional lone waves that come out of nowhere, at least in the Gulf of Mexico & the Atlantic Ocean. I believe one of these hit a cruise ship somewhat recently. And, these stray waves are being recorded by the Coast Guard's bouys, occasional, as well.

By Cotton (Cotton) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 12:07 pm:

As many of you know my father was lost on the Edmund Fitzgerald along with his 28 fellow shipmates 17 miles from Whitefish Point. I went to Whitefish Point with my husband back in 1976 just to see the area closest to where the Fitz is. I found it to be so beautiful. And quiet. There was only the lighthouse & a couple of old buildings there then.
Since that time I have visited the Point & the museum that has been built there several times.
Naturally I am magnitized to it by the Bell of the Edmund Fitzgerlad being there.
But it is also one of the most beautiful & most serene places to visit in the UP.Though there are many other beautiful areas in the UP. It is one of my favorite places. I like to sit on the shore, relax & just gaze out to the water & just think of my father & remember my times with him. There are accomodations for overnight staying in one of the quarters there like mentioned here earlier. It is set up like a bed & breakfast with all the ammunities.We've stayed there twice & enjoyed it & also enjoyed watching the ships go. It is so peaceful at night just hearing the waves hit the shore. you can also see the ships go by with their harborlights on. It's beautiful!!
I know the Fitzgerald suffered many problems before it sank but I still sometimes wonder if they'd been able to see the lighthouse beacon if that would have helped them in any way. The lightouse beacon had gone out that night. I know we'll never know, only the men & God know that.
Visit it if you ever get the chance. I think you'll enjoy your visit. And as far as I know, there are no restrictions to pick agates there.

By Gonna be a Yooper (Joanie) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 12:11 pm:

Cotton, that was so well said it brought a tear to my eyes. When we head up to Whitefish Point next summer, I will say a prayer for your father.

By Heikki (Heikki) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 01:19 pm:

What Kathyl had to say makes sense to me, the difference in density between fresh and salt water determining wave periods. Regarding waves 'coming back', waves also crash into the coast of oceans, and there is undertow created just as there is in the Great Lakes. However, the phenomena of waves 'coming back' described by Marianne may occur against cliffs where the wave doesn't get the chance to 'break' as it does along more gradual sloped shorelines. Does this make any sense?

By Marianne Y (Marianne) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 01:45 pm:

Ok, I'm cheating now, with a third post today. I'm sorry, Mary. Maybe this should be moved to What's UP?

When wave tests are done, variables include depth of the water, the underwater topography, and the size of wave tanks, et al. We learned that in the semester of Waves, the second semester of second year Physics for Physics majors, in college, that was ironically required for Chemistry majors, which I was/am. I'm sorry that I don't remember more detail, since that was so long ago, and I really have not had occasion to use that info much since.

I have never heard of the difference in density between fresh & salt water determining wave periods, but that does not mean that it might not make a difference.

The point on the ocean is that the sheer size of the body of water, & how very far you can be from shore, "dampens", or makes smaller, waves in the ocean.

Again, maybe this discussion should move to What's UP? Once again, sorry, Mary, for my transgression with this third post on the Cam notes today.

By Ruby Coomes (Kentuckian) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 02:32 pm:

Thanks for bringing back wonderful memories--visited Whitefish Point, Paradise area last summer. A friend and I persuaded out spouses to take us to points mentioned in novels we'd read about the UP and Canada. Gorgeous scenery. We'll definitely go back. After seeing this picture, I'm hoping the next trip will be in the winter.

By Richard A. Fields (Cherokeeyooper) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 02:46 pm:

One of my favorite spots in the U.P. If you look at the light, you will see it is not the normal lighthouse light you see. The one at Copper Harbor is more of a typical set up, though from an older period. This is part of Whitefish Point's charm to me.

Here is my quick Whitefish Point story. When my first wife was still alive, we took a trip there to see the museum. On the way back to the Marquette area, I got the bright idea to take the back roads home. I cut across from Paradise toward Grand Marais on a back road that turned out to be a snowmobile trail. We were in a 2wd Dodge Dakota. My wife had serious health problems and I was scared silly. After five hours we came out near the Big Two Hearted River. I was never so relieved. So when I think of Whitefish Point, I think of one of the scarier adventures I ever took! So if you go, stay to the paved roads!

By Michael Poe (Mpoe) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 03:08 pm:

We too love whitefish point. We paid a visit last memorial weekend and especially enjoyed the new life saving boat. The station staff had unbelievably hard and dangerous work to accomplish in their missions.

We also took the "back roads" to Munising some years ago. from Muskellonge lake on H-58 thru Grand Marais. Interesting trip!

By David Haykus (Dhaykus) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 08:26 pm:

Heikki - I've heard the lakes called "Inland Seas". Would that be more accurate?

By Susan Caryl (Gilbsulmum) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 11:42 pm:

Thanks for the pictures of my future home! It's where I intend to retire...eventually. And Cherokeeyooper is quite right about those roads. Hate to think of the times I've been marooned in that area. One time it took a pickup, two guys, a heavy duty chain and two trees (one, unfortunately, didn't survive) to get my car out of a sandy area I had tried to turn around in. Now I DID have an excuse...the road stopped at a locked formidable fence. I did back up what seemed to be a couple of miles before finding a place to even TRY to turn around. Then had a hike of 5-6 miles out to Hwy 123 to get help. They had the nerve to advise me that my Olds (back when Oldsmobiles were TANKS...late 60's, early 70's) wasn't a dune buggy! :) This was just one of my misadventures, but the area has been "home" since I started going there around 5 years of age. I'm a bit older now...and more circumspect about adventuring. Sometimes. Back in the day the fog horn went 24/7. Used to love to stand against that old brick building and just let the sound reverberate through me. Sure miss it now that it is only used when needed. I never seem to be there at the right time. Oh well, retirement is coming...9 years and counting!

By Brent in UPstate NY (Brent) on Tuesday, February 13, 2007 - 05:35 am:

This is about as far west (from the soo) as we went on our UP vacation about five years ago. That was enough to fall in love with the UP of course. Other than the lighthouse and the museum there, the one thing that stands out in my mind about Whitefish Point was the bugs. I think they were the dreaded black fly. So thick and so annoying you had to keep both hands flailing about your head and face just to keep them off you. And to keep your sanity. I mean, it was BAD! I can't imagine any of the wildlife around there being sane at all because of them. To this day I still call them 'devil flies'.

By Heikki (Heikki) on Tuesday, February 13, 2007 - 08:09 am:

David - Yes, except for the lack of salt.

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