Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Temperature 71 Degrees, Abundant Sunshine, Clear Blue Skies

Around St. Ignace

We decided to do some sightseeing today but to keep it local. That meant a trip to the attractions in and around St. Ignace.

Our first stop was the town Boardwalk at the end of which you find

the Wawatam Lighthouse. Today this is an active aid to navigation 7/24 but that is not how it started out. This was once a roadside attraction at a welcome center in Monroe, Michigan.

It was designed and built by a gentleman by the name of Ed Morris who believe that tourists should not have to go to remote locations to have their pictures taken next to a lighthouse.

In 2004 the state of Michigan decided to refurbish the welcome center and deemed the lighthouse no longer necessary. Well, city leaders in St. Ignace heard of its availability and quickly purchased it. They then had it disassembled into five pieces and shipped to their fair city.

A suitable foundation was built for it at the entrance to the city marina and the lighthouse was then reassembled and became an actual working aid to navigation. Not how about that!

Coming back I snapped a picture of the water along the boardwalk. It is so crystal clear for many, many feet out. It’s like this in Lake Michigan, Superior and Huron.

On the way back from the lighthouse there is also a small park off to the side

An interesting name for a park. Hey, look in the background there is the gentleman who the park is named after. He was a distinguished Ojibwa chief of the 1760’s. Yes, the lighthouse is named after him as well as

a coal-fired steel ship – The Chief Wawtam, or just The Chief – that was based during its working life, 1911 to 1984, here in St. Ignace.

Moreover we discovered the boardwalk we were on was once known by local residents as the Chief Dock. The Chief at a length of 338ft with a beam of 62ft and a draft of 20.7ft once served as a train ferry, passenger ferry and ice breaker that operated year round between St. Ignace and Mackinaw City.

In its hey-day the Chief’s crew consisted of 54 people including hotel service staff. The crew lived aboard since the ship ran 7/24. She could carry 348 passengers and had comfortable quarters for men and women.

Moving on we happened to look out over the water and saw

these four identical round cylinders. What were these?

We discovered that they are called mooring dolphins. These dolphins were constructed in 1957 to provide a secure mooring facility for Great Lakes ships carrying jet fuel to the area to be offloaded. The jet fuel ran from the dolphins through an underground pipe to a storage facility on shore. The jet fuel was then pumped through another underground pipe to the now defunct Kinross Air Force Base that was located 37 miles north of St. Ignace.

Our next and final stop was on the outskirts of town and down by the water.

This is where we got our first real look at the

Big Mac and learned a good deal about its history. A funny side note, I follow the blog of a gentleman who with his wife full timed for over twenty years. He stated that he would never, ever drive over this bridge. He always made his wife take the wheel when it came time to go across. Come on now!

The first thing you notice when entering the park is this statue dedicated to the five men who lost their lives during the bridge’s construction. Also, contrary to modern folk lore there is no one buried in any of the foundation piers.

We then went inside the interpretive center that is part of the park.

There we learned the history of the ferry service that ran between St. Ignace and Mackinaw City prior to the completion of the bridge . During their 34 years of service the ferries carried approximately 12 million vehicles and 34 million passengers across the Straits of Mackinaw.

We also learned about the construction of the bridge from the first feasibility study to

its opening on November 1, 1957. It’s an interesting history and I encourage you to take some time to google the history of the bridge yourself and discover all that went into its construction.

We also learned some interesting facts about the bridge

but this is the one that really caught my attention. Possible that it could move as much as 35 feet, east or west due to high winds. And then it would just sort of ease back to center because of the weight of traffic going across. I’m definitely going to make sure we go across on a calm day!

By the way, look who went with us today. All I can say is that once he got home he promptly went to sleep in his chair and didn’t even get up for his supper.

Oh, one more thing

If there is a body of water I just have to stick my toes in. Let’s see, I’ve been in Lake Superior and today Lake Michigan. I guess I have a few more to go.

So that was our day on The Road of Retirement. We have more sightseeing in the works for the next several days. And then we’ll probably just collapse! Oh, but we are having fun and are not about to stop now.

Thanks again for spending some time with us.  It’s always great to be able to share our story with family and friends. Comments? Feel free to share them with me. And always remember, cherish every moment of every day that God gives you and live those moments to the fullest. 

Our continuing mission remains the same: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have not been before.


  1. What an interesting day! You know, I never thought about the bridge not being there. So, when my dad went to work on Mackinac Island right after he graduated from high school, the bridge was not there. You did learn a lot about the area, and it was nice Proton got to enjoy it with you!


      1. Of course, you may ask. I’ll answer as best as I can. My dad’s mom died when he was 7. His father remarried but later died. My dad’s stepmother promised her husband, she’d see my dad through high school. That she did. But on the day of graduation – or the day after, he was on his own. He went up to Mackinac Island where his older brother, Harold, lived. From the stories he told, he worked at a hotel. I’m not sure where he lived, but my guess would be that it was on the island. You have me curious now though.


      2. Thank you for sharing. From what I’ve discovered there are only about 500 people who live full time on the island. By winter time most if not all of those who work on the island leave for the mainland. So now you have a mystery to solve. Maybe by the time we get together you’ll have the answers. Have fun digging into the past!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I wasn’t sure which one of you collapsed until the one would not get up to eat. Figured it wasn’t you. Ha! Ha! I’ve heard the UP of Michigan is beautiful and I remember seeing a story about Mackinac Island and was so fascinated with it. I hope one day we’ll get there. Enjoyed you blog, so keep’em coming. 😃


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