Yooper for a Day (Part II) 6/17/2010

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.

Cathie and Ted head into the park. We chose to walk to the Upper Falls because it was the closest to the parking lot.

 

Our first glimpse of the falls through the trees.

Tahquamenon Falls - close up.

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.

There are several platforms in different locations from which to view the falls.

A little known fact about Tahquamenon Falls is that it is the second largest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. The largest, of course, is Niagara Falls.

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.

The Tahquamenon River rises from springs north of McMillan, MI and meanders 94 miles, before emptying into Whitefish Bay. Extremely soft water churned by the action of the falls causes the extensive amounts of foam.

Ted and I with the falls in the background.

Although the surface of the Tahquamenon River freezes each winter, and huge chunks of ice formations hang from the brink of the falls, there is always open water at the Upper Falls. (Photo courtesy of "Exploring the North" website.)

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.

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10 thoughts on “Yooper for a Day (Part II) 6/17/2010

  1. I have been to the falls many times as a child and only once as an adult. Thank you for sharing your trip with us. Brings back many good memories. Enjoy your day!

  2. What a beautiful place. Just like yesterday’s post, I would love to see it one day. The falls look amazing, and the trees…WOW!

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

  3. Wow, I want to be there. The lower falls don’t have nearly the grandeur of the upper falls, but they are beautiful in their own right. I love the parts of the UP I’ve been to. I think I’ve been to that exact diner in Paradise you spoke of as well. My step-son came by the house last night and I was looking at yesterday’s blog. He saw the Edmund Fitzgerald’s bell and said, Hey I’ve seen that! So I introduced him to your blog (although he’s almost 21 so I think skateboarding will come before visiting your blog). 🙂

  4. Wow, I want to be there. The lower falls don’t have nearly the grandeur of the upper falls, but they are beautiful in their own right. I love the parts of the UP I’ve been to. I think I’ve been to that exact diner in Paradise you spoke of as well.

  5. That’s so cool. My husband and I went there the end of March when it was SOOOOOO cold! But still beautiful. We hiked in over snow banks and it’s fun to see your pictures of where we were, but all green now!

    A tour of the bridge!? HOW COOL!!!!!

  6. The last time we were there was in the fall, and oh, you should see it when the colors are full! I can almost smell the woods from your pictures. Mmmm!

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