Sunday, August 7, 2011

Friday August 5, 2011-Dan and Karen's house-Limestone MI

Today, Dan and Karen took us on a trip to the tip-top of Michigan, to Copper Country. This is as far north as Michigan goes and a very pretty drive. We began our journey with checking out the closed-down K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base and a small display of airplanes there.

The air base has an interesting history. First constructed as a civilian airport and named for a County Commissioner, Kenneth Ingalls Sawyer, who had originally proposed an airport approximately 20 miles south of Marquette. First construction began in 1944 and a 99 year lease was signed with the US Air Force in 1955. The Air Force constructed a 12,300 foot runway that was 300 feet wide. The base became a strictly military base in May of 1959 and at one time housed a fighter-bomber base including B-52 bombers and the 62nd Fighter Interceptor being transferred there from O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, bringing their F101B Voodoos to the base. The base remained a Strategic Air Command base before being decommissioned in 1995 and turned back over to Marquette County for a regional airport.

A MacDonnell F101B Voodoo Interceptor.

After stopping for breakfast in Marquette, we continued to a small village built and established by the Ford Motor Company in 1935. Henry Ford reportedly wanted to own every aspect of the materials used to build his automobiles, with lumber being a large part of the early cars. Ford was motoring between his summer home near Big Bay and facilities in L'Anse, when he stopped his car and told his driver that this location would be perfect for a mill pond and sawmill. He felt that the mill and houses would be in open view of passing motorists and would "demonstrate how a lumber mill should be operated". Signs along the highway for miles made it clear that the land and mill belonged to the Ford Motor Company and visitors were invited to picnic alongside the mill pond and visit the immaculately clean mill in operation. On occasion, visitors were greeted by Ford himself.

Click on the Photos to enlarge.

Here at Ford's model sawmill, band saw, log carriage, edger and trimmer are all in place-everything but the engines that are on display at the Henry Ford Museum near Detroit. The equipment is still painted and seems ready to produce lumber, just as Henry Ford would have wanted.

Ford autos used wood for bodies until 1937 until the switch to steel. Station wagons (woodies) continued to use wooden bodies and sides until 1951. Ford owned approximately 400,000 acres of timber forest, the mill and the entire village of Big Bay, a hydroelectric plant, sawmill.chemical processing plant and iron mine at Iron Mountain/Kingsford and sawmills at Munising, Sidnaw, L'Anse and Pequaming.

A beautiful photo of Keweenaw Bay

We then traveled on down Hwy. 41 to this huge snow stick that was erected by the Keweenaw County Road Commission to demonstrate the amount of snow that falls in this area.

An amazing amount of snow.

Being a lifelong resident of the Gulf Coast of Texas, I cannot imagine living in cold country like this. It might be fun to try it one winter season, but I probably won't make it. Kind of makes the old bones ache, just thinking about it.

We went all the way to the upper end of Michigan, to the beginning of U.S. 41, which runs all the way to Miami Florida. That in itself is pretty amazing, to think you can drive 1990 miles on one road, from Canada to the Atlantic ocean.

Lake Superior on the left and lake Fanny Hooe on the right. Two beautiful bodies of water!

We made it to Copper Country, named because of the large amount of copper mined here since the 1840's until the 1960's. One mine, continued through 1965. In its heyday, this area was the world's largest producer of copper. While mining continues on a small scale, the area now relies on tourism and logging as its major industries. Snowmobiling is very popular and snow trails are found in most areas.

On our way back, I stopped and waded into Lake Superior. This makes three of the Great Lakes that I have blessed with my Texas toe jam.

A waterfall at the Lake Shore Drive bridge. The gorge is 53 feet deep with a wooden truss bridge spanning it.

They don't build 'em like this any more. The woodwork in the bridge is beautiful.

As we continued on our trip back home, some friends of theirs, Bob and Cathy, invited us to stop for burgers at their house in L'Anse. Bob is in the lumber business and they have a beautiful home along the river through town. I'll bet it's gorgeous in the winter. We had a nice visit with them and Bob showed us the huge pile of firewood he has out back to fuel his wood-fired heating system for his house, pool and sheds. It is very interesting and I wish I had taken pictures of it. Very impressive!

We returned home, tired after a very interesting day.

So long.

1 comment:

Ted and Donna said...

You probably went right past Lake Linden that we told you about. It is maybe 10 miles north of Houghton. I'm assuming you went all the way to Copper Harbor. It is such gorgeous country (in the summer!).