Paradise, Michigan that is!
I’ve had a long week of the blues. Just grumpy and irritated. I want to sell my house and move!
Then my great-uncle Harold died. He was always a happy go lucky man who was important to my mom. Then my Grandma V. had to have emergency surgery. They repaired her intestine by removing a couple of feet of it. The surgery went fine but she just isn’t recovering well. She is sedated and is on a ventilator still. She is the head of the V. family and has always been one of my favourite people on earth. It would be so crazy to lose her so quick and all of a sudden.
So yesterday I really needed to get out of town. It feels like I leave town only about 3 times a year and I just go so stir crazy here. I had always been interested in the Edmund Fitzgerald ship that sunk in Lake Superior in 1975, and I had heard that its bell was in a shipwreck museum in Michigan. I searched online and found the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum so we decided to go.
The museum was north of Paradise, Michigan on Whitefish Point. It was about an hour and twenty minutes from the Sault. We just travelled south over the border into Michigan and then we travelled west along the coast of Lake Superior. We could see the windfarm here in Ontario across the water.
There are several buildings at the museum. There was the main museum building that had all the displays and artifacts from shipwrecks. Then there was a couple gift shops. There was the original lighthouse and lighthouse keeper quarters. In fact it’s the oldest active lighthouse on Lake Superior. There was the brick fog horn building. There was the surfboat house where the big rescue boat was stationed where there was tributes to the surfmen who rescued people from the lake. There was also the coast guard building where the surfmen resided.
There were many shipwrecks at that part of the Great Lakes. There used to be thousands of boats navigating the Lakes rather than just the few that do today. I was surprised to read about so many shipwrecks that were caused just by boats colliding!
The lighthouse keepers were paid about $600 a year from the 1880’s through to the 1930’s. They got supplies brought to them there by boat a couple times a year. They had to tend to the lighthouse every 2 hours and 18 minutes, 24 hours a day, to wind the mechanism that kept the light rotating! For that reason, there was usually two lighthouse keeper families. Their residence was split in half like a duplex. One man was the lighthouse keeper for from 1903 until 1931, raising his 3 children there, and then his granddaughter. His name was Robert Carlson. One time the other lighthouse keeper with him turned out to be a German spy!! They had planted him there to fiddle with the lighthouse beacons and cause mischief. The main lighthouse keeper man figured him out and summoned the authorities to come and take him away! Here is Robert Carlson in his office where he was updating the logbook:
Light House Keeper
Creepy eh? They did wax? statues of people that were seriously creeping me out. They were so real I kept thinking they were about to move. I just couldn’t bring myself to take photos of the wax kids because they belonged in a horror film. Here’s more:
The life of the lighthouse keeper, and especially of their wives and children, was horribly lonely. Robert Carlson’s wive wrote some of her story here: http://www.nps.gov/archive/apis/heroine.htm
Back then I imagine the surfmen weren’t there yet. I think they started in the 1930’s?
Here are a couple of natives that were in the display in the museum. I’ll spare you the close up shots – they are freaky.
The lighthouse is still operating. We could look up the steep dark spiral staircase, but we couldn’t go up. Not that I would have wanted to. Luckily it was attached to the upstairs of their house so they didn’t have to go outside. However back when it used oil, they had to keep the oil far away from the house and the lighthouse for safety reasons, so they’d still have to go outside for fuel.
We got to see the bell of the Edmund Fitzgerald. They played Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” in the museum every 15 minutes or so. Here is a photo of a light preserver from the Edmund Fitzgerald:
My photos of the bell didn’t turn out so good because it was dark and it was in a protective case so the flash kicked back into the photo.
Overall, I highly recommend the Whitefish Point Shipwreck Museum as a tourist stop. The drive to get there was beautiful too.
Afterwards, we went to another close by site seeing stop – a 125 year old cranberry farm! I’ve always been intrigued by photos of the cranberry harvest and the brochures said they harvested there in mid October and gave tours. Unfortunately they had a drought this year and the harvest was over. Not only that, but they were out of cranberries to sell to visitors! They did have a gift shop though, that was in a 100 year old wrickety shack that was the old post office there. We bought a few cranberry souvenirs. Yum yum!
Another comment on American cuisine. We stopped at a little hick town grocery store in Paradise to make our own lunch. We bought whole wheat bread and peanut butter for sandwiches. Back in the truck we realized that they were both loaded with SUGAR! Who needs tons of sugar in whole wheat bread and/or peanut butter!?! We ate our sandwiches and pitched the rest of the peanut butter jar and bag of bread.
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