I had never heard of Tahquamenon Falls until I married Ted 21 years ago. The falls, Whitefish Point, Pictured Rocks, and the Toonerville Trolley were all interwoven into his boyhood memories of summers spent in the Les Cheneaux Islands with his grandparents – with daytrips to Mackinac Island and the U.P. of Michigan. By the way, the Toonerville Trolley is really a train that carries you about six miles into a remote wilderness area and ends at the Tahquamenon River.
The Tahquamenon Falls State Park is only a few miles from Whitefish Point Light, so seeing both in one day trip from Mackinac Island is an easy few hours of sightseeing. The park encompasses 52,000 acres, stretching over more than 13 miles of undeveloped woodlands without roads, buildings, or power lines.
The brown color of the river and the falls is caused by the presence of many kinds of dissolved organic materials including tannic acids. These organic materials originate from the natural leaching of decomposing woody debris and soils of the cedar, hemlock and spruce forest within the watershed.
The Tahquamenon River was made famous in Longfellow’s poem Hiawatha – “. . . by the rushing Tahquamenaw,” Hiawatha built his canoe. Long before white man set eye on the river, the Chippewa Indians came for the abundance of fish in its waters and the animals along its shores. The Indians camped, farmed, fished and trapped along its banks.
In the late 1800’s, lumber barons came, and the river carried their logs by the millions to the mills.
We stopped in the little town of Paradise, MI for a late lunch before we headed back to Mackinaw City to pick up Maddie and Bear and catch the ferry. Paradise has about five buildings, and one of them is a little diner, with the most sassy waitress I have ever encountered. She was dealing with two rooms full of people all by herself and had a great sense of humor with how she handled it all. When one of our meals came a little differently than it was ordered, we mentioned that to her as she placed the plate down on the table. She just looked us dead in the eye and said, “Order what you want, and eat what you get” and turned and walked away. We were so shocked that we did exactly that!
Thursday morning I’m going to be watching Siena while Mike and Jeanine trek to the top of the south tower of the Mackinac Bridge for a tour. The weather is going to be perfect, and I’m hoping Mike will share just one photo with me from the “top of the tower” for the blog on Friday morning.
See you then, good Lord willing.