By Cliff Locke
For Part 1, click here.
I woke early, knowing this would be the day I crossed the bridge into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. What kind of adventure awaits me? I headed over the bridge, while iron ore freighters carrying the loads to Detroit floated under the bridge. I began to wonder what would happen if a strong gust of wind blew my SUV off the bridge, but before I knew it I was on the other side. I was in the U.P.!
I traveled north to Paradise, Michigan. Whitefish Point lighthouse and the Edmund Fitzgerald Museum were at the very tip of this strip of road. The Edmund Fitzgerald Museum told eerie tales of the ship’s fate that blustery November 14th. Gordon Lightfoot captured the story in his song, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”!
The lighthouse was not like any other lighthouse I had seen, no real tower, just a long cylinder with a lens tower on top. But the grounds were very interesting with many artifacts from shipwrecks and maritime history, I found myself humming Gordon’s song…
As I drove away I could feel my excitement growing as I was on my way to Michigan’s largest waterfall, Taqanoman Falls. There are actually two sets, an upper falls, and a lower falls. The upper falls were spectacular. On the walk there you could hear the roar of the falls, every now and then catch a glimpse of a part of nature that no man could ever duplicate.
Climbing down for a closer look the copper color of the water and the cool mist covering your face made for an exhilarating experience. I stood in awe, wondering what the first man to see this thought when he gazed upon it for the first time. I returned to my car and found a couple talking about a lighthouse that was being restored in the area. I was told it was really off the beaten path, but I was up for the challenge.
It was definitely a challenge, dirt road all the way, in fact, parts of it I would not even call a road. I was hoping that it would be all this couple had said it was. I was beginning to have my doubts! Then I saw the tower and it was more than I could have ever hoped.
A small tower painted white, with an aged copper roof, you know that color of green that copper turns. It was in the middle of nowhere, but something about it made me smile. I thought about how lonely it would have been for the keeper living out here alone. Old remands of docks could be seen in the water. I found out from a man working on the property that the keeper’s house had fallen into Lake Superior years ago; even the small house attached to the tower had been rebuilt after the original fell into the lake. He continued saying that the tower was about to fall when locals decided to do something and started the Crisp Point Lighthouse Keepers Association. This organization is working to maintain and upkeep the light for future generations. I didn’t want to leave, but I still had lots to see and do.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula highway system is basically normal roads; don’t look for any fancy gas stations or restaurants. It’s mostly mom and pop places that have been in the family for years. It was actually nice not having the hustle and bustle of a lot of traffic. And the small town diners had excellent food!