Exploring the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan: Part 3

By Michael Carignan

Another good night’s sleep and it was time to leave the Sault and begin the trek home. The plan was to drive to John and Cathy Ann Anderson’s cabin on the Escanaba River. Cathy is my niece. We had four more places we wanted to check out before we got too serious about taking the three hour drive for their place. Fortunately all four attractions were kind of on the way to Cornell.

Breakfast was a combination of the continental breakfast at the motel and some snacks that we like to carry with us. One of our favorites is a trail mix we discovered at the Olympia Farmer’s Market in Washington. It is a mix of beef stick pieces, small jerky pieces and small half-inch cubes of different cheeses, whatever you have on hand. It adds a good protein boost as a snack or even a meal.

The first two attractions happened to be at the same locations outside of Paradise, Michigan. The attractions are the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and Whitefish Point Lighthouse.

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The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.

The main collection of the museum features artifacts from many of the more famous shipwrecks in the Great Lakes. Over the many years there have been thousands of shipwrecks in the Great Lakes. Whitefish Point has claimed a large number of them. Since 1975 there has been in the neighborhood of 240 wrecks off Whitefish Point.

Included in the many displays is one of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank on November 10, 1975. Twenty-nine men died in the wreck. The Edmund Fitzgerald was just 17 miles out into Lake Superior from Whitefish Point when it sank. In 1995 the bell from the ship was raised and is part of the display at the museum.

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The bell of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

All of the exhibits were quite interesting and told of each ship’s fate and the location of where they sank.

Other museum buildings and attractions included a lighthouse keeper’s house set up as it was in the early 1900s. The old station crew quarters is being renovated into overnight lodging but wasn’t open to be toured.

The Whitefish Point Lighthouse had some restriction as to who could climb the structure and hear the history of the oldest operating light on Lake Superior. The light was first lit in 1849. The light helps guide ships through the graveyard of the Great Lakes as they enter or leave the St. Mary’s River and Lake Superior.

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The Whitefish Point Lighthouse and keeper’s house.

Also on the grounds is an overlook of the lake and stairs that allow visitors down onto the beach to walk the sand. Dawn, of course, didn’t turn down a walk on the beach.

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The Lake Superior beach at Whitefish Point.

From there we took the road back onto Paradise and got back on M-123 W headed for Tahquamenon Falls. First we went to the lower falls about 15 miles west and then to the upper falls another four miles west. Tahquamenon Falls’ upper falls is the second largest waterfall east of the Mississippi River – Niagara Falls being the largest.

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The upper falls of Tahquamenon Falls is the second largest waterfall east of the Mississippi River.

It was a Saturday with sunshine and 80 degree temps so both locations were extremely busy. In both locations the closest viewing areas were quite a hike, but the path was paved and quite wide allowing even larger groups to pass in both directions without much problem. I took my time and was able to get some good pictures. The falls were exhilarating and well worth the hike.

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The lower Tahquamenon Falls.

It was time to head for Cornell so we got back on M-123 west. As we were tooling along out in the middle of nowhere we past a sign for North Star Brick Oven Bakery. Baked goods… you bet! We shot past it before realizing it might be worth a stop. We turned around and as we got out of our car a woman came from the house to open the shop. Inside it was rather dark but there was enough natural light so we could see the products. The woman informed us they were off the grid so there was no light to turn on. She had a selection of four kinds of sourdough breads left.

We chose a whole wheat bread made from wheat that had been used in the brewing process and then recaptured. We also chose a chocolate-cherry bread.

Back on the road, M-123 to M-28 outside of Newberry, then a few miles west to M-117 south to U.S. 2 then west to Gladstone.

We arrived at the Anderson’s cabin around 5:30 p.m. eastern. We got in on a couple of games of ladder ball. Dawn and I won the first, lost the second. After a couple of beers and lots of catching up, Cathy and John served up a wonderful supper of grilled chicken, potato salad and veggies from the garden.

The next morning Dawn and Cathy cooked up some French toast made out of the chocolate-cherry bread and some sausages. John brought out some of his homemade maple syrup. The bread had nice chunks of chocolate as well as real Michigan cherry pieces. It was delicious.

After breakfast we walked down to the bottom of John and Cathy’s front yard to the banks of the Escanaba River. The Andersons bought up an acre of land along the river from my uncle. This was the most southern part of the old Carignan homestead which included, I would guess, a mile or more of riverfront. It is very scenic with lots of deer, turkeys, bear and wolf in the woods and good fishing spots in the river.

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The Escanaba River in front of the Anderson residence.
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Five of the seven members of a family of wild turkeys that frequently visit the Anderson residence.

Alas, it was time to get back on the road. Home was about a five-hour drive away and we intended to make a couple of stops along the way. From the cabin we went into Escanaba to make a stop at Sayklly’s. They have been making chocolate candies for the public since 1906. Excellent candies even though they’re a little pricy.

Our next stop was in Menominee, Michigan just before we crossed back into Wisconsin. Our stop was Colonel K’s Pasties Shop. Here again is a place that’s been in business for as long as I can remember. I was born in Escanaba and moved to Baraboo, Wisconsin before I was one-year old. We never made a trip to Michigan without a stop at Colonel K’s Pasties. They are consistently top quality with little change over the years. We did notice a change this time though. The crust has gotten much thinner. They are still quite tasty but not quite as filling. Our favorite is the cabbage and beef.

Four hours later we were back home and unpacking.