For Lowell 8/10/2010

Lowell Greene and his wife Faye are two of my most loyal readers.  Lowell comments on my posts regularly, and quite a while ago he asked me to check on something for him.

Lowell and Faye live in Michigan, and he worked on Mackinac Island 55 years ago.  Health concerns prevent Lowell from visiting Mackinac as he’d like, but he has shared some great memories of the Island with me.

In 1955 I hitch hiked from my home in Cheboygan to Mackinaw City and took the ferry to Mackinac Island.  I walked down one side of Main Street and about half way up the other before finding a job.  I worked at two different restaurants that summer, before my 16th birthday on October 6.  I first worked at Phil Corby’s “Coffee Cup.”  Then I worked at “The Carriage Lantern.”  While I was on the Island that summer, I roomed at Ella Chambers’ house.  The next 2 summers I roomed at her house and worked at her “Arch Rock Curio Shop” – a little way to the right of Arch RockI’ve climbed up under Arch Rock from the road below (they’ve taken all the fun out of that now with a stairway), and I actually walked across Arch Rock, something I recommend to no one – but I was a teenager thenAnother memory was the day a friend and I took a small fishing boat out to Round Island.  We beached the boat on the sand and walked over to the lighthouse.  Finding it unlocked, we explored it thoroughly before pushing off to return to Mackinac.  As we were returning, a huge freighter passed us so close I thought I could reach out and touch it.  I don’t know if I was scared or just in awe of that huge ship.”

Because Lowell worked at Arch Rock, he remembered a brass tablet near there dedicated to John Nicolet, the first white man to set foot in Michigan and the old Northwest territory.  He wondered if the tablet was still there and gave me an approximate vicinity to look in – “I think that tablet is just a little way into the trees to the left of Arch Rock, as you’re looking toward the water.”

I’ve been meaning to go out and look for the tablet for a couple of months now, and just never seemed to find the time.  On Sunday I awoke with Lowell’s tablet on my mind, and Ted and I made plans to ride over after lunch, which we did.

It was a wonderful day for a bike ride.  The weather forecast had called for storms all day, but as so often happens, no storms arrived, and by early afternoon the skies were blue, and the temperature was perfect in the mid-70’s.    I’m always the “follower” on bike rides, so Ted chooses how we’re going to get to wherever we’re going.  He loves mixing paved roads, wooded trails , and a few I like to call “nonexistent pathways”, but we nevertheless always manage to arrive at our destination.

So you can get your bearings - you can see a splash of red through the trees on the right side of this photo. That is someone walking out to the viewing platform at Arch Rock. As Lowell said, the tablet is to the left of the Arch.

The steps to the top of the hill where the tablet was placed.

At the top of the steps, you walk out on a platform that rests on the top of the hill, and there it is - just as Lowell said it would be!

I got Ted to take my pic with the tablet just to prove I'd really been there!

Standing behind the tablet - looking east.

Another view from the platform. I can never get over how BIG the great lakes are!

Tranquil Bluff Trail begins at the top of the platform and runs almost all the way to British Landing. It's one of the most difficult bike trails on the Island.

Lowell, I’m sorry it took me so long to check on this for you, but I figured if I did it too soon, you’d stop writing me all those great memories you have of the Island.  You and Faye have a great day canning those green beans, and God bless.


15 thoughts on “For Lowell 8/10/2010

  1. One of my favorite spots on the Island! It used to be a lot more rustic, as I’m sure Lowell remembers. Those nice new stairways all over the Island represent a big long term investment by the State Park. I remember logs buried in the hill, making steps, and cedar poles forming a railing! But that was 50+ years ago.

    One question: if Tranquil Bluff is a ‘bicycle trail, how does one get the bicycles up to the trail?

  2. Brenda,

    Last night, I kept checking to see when the blog would be posted, but my eyes kept going shut as I sat in front of the computer, so I had to go to bed before you posted it.

    Thank you so much. I just knew the tablet had to be there somewhere. After all, Jean Nicolet was an extremely important person in the history of Mackinac Island. I know I’m getting old and my memory isn’t anything like it used to be, but because I had spent time on The Island and because I have always been a history nut, I was sure I was correct in remembering a tablet. However, I don’t think that is the same tablet. As I remember, it was much smaller and lower to the ground. I’m also sure his first name was given as Jean. John would be the English translation. Probably a larger and better tablet was put there by the Parks Department when the stairway was built. Nevertheless, it’s certainly good to see he hasn’t been forgotten, even if they did give him the wrong name.

    Back when I was on The Island there was no stairway like your picture shows. I’m glad it’s there. I remember struggling up through the trees for just a little way to see the tablet. There was also no trail from Arch Rock along the bluff to British Landing. However, there was a trail in the opposite direction that followed the bluff and came out on Huron Road near the the top of that steep hill that goes down to Truscott. I often ran that trail back to town from Arch Rock at the end of the working day. I would jump any trees that had fallen across the trail. Now, if I even think about running or jumping, my heart says, “Listen Idiot, just try it! You are not running anywhere!” (As an aside, way back then there was a florist on Huron at the top of the hill. I remember buying and sending flowers from there to my sister who was in the hospital in Detroit.)

    Oh the wonderful memories you trigger in my mind!

    Thanks again, Brenda. I really appreciate it.

    Now you’ve been everywhere on The Island.


  3. I could not imagine walking up through there without the stairway. The view from up there is just gorgeous especially when the sun hits the water and it sparkles. Happy Tuesday!!

  4. Thank you Lowell for sharing your memories of Mackinac. I love reading about how it used to be. I could never imagine walking across Arch Rock. Oh My! My heart skips a beat just thinking about that! Anytime you and Brenda want to share more of your stories, I would love to read them. Have a wonderful day!

  5. Then and now. Thanks, Lowell, for taking us on your nostalgic journey via Bree’s blog. Thank you Bree for doing such a great job of making us feel like we were there for the rediscovery. I remember when the steps were sometimes little more than roots in the paths. I can almost smell the breeze coming off the lake and the woods calling me home.

  6. The places you find on the east side of the island are the ones most familiar to me, and make me the most nostalgic. I’m with Irene – it’s one of my favorite places on the island! I do not remember a curio sop or even a building by Arch Rock. That would have made a nice stop on the ride around the island! Can’t wait for September!
    Thanks to Lowell for his remembrances, and to you for psoting them!

  7. Lowell’s memories brought back a few similar ones for me. I remember well dining at the Carriage Lantern as a child. We were always expected to “dress-up”, Mary Jane’s, dresses with petticoats and sometimes even gloves. I also remember almost losing my life, scrambling across Arch Rock as a kid and losing my step. My mother must have had her attention elsewhere (probably my sisters climbing down to the road) as she would never have allowed that but I remember her scream. I also worked on the Island the summer of ’64 along with sisters, cousins and sorority sisters. I worked at Bejamin’s and was delighted to see him still with us when we visited in June. I was pleased to have the young woman currently working there tell me it was still just as much fun to spend the summer working there.
    Ask Lowell if he remembers the North and South American stopping at the Island? I do.

  8. Hi Brenda, Thought I’d write you here as I don’t know if you received my e-mail. My husband Glen and I just spent a wonderful time on the island. Unfortunately it was this time for only one day, but Jane did come by the Windermere and the three of us chatted on the porch.

    We arrived yesterday morning and and just took Shepler’s back this afternoon. Sorry, we didn’t get to meet and have a chat on the Winderemere porch. Hopefully another time.


  9. Yes, Mary, I do remember the North and South American. When they docked they always had a lot of tourists. It was a good day for the businesses on The Island.

    I thought I was the only one crazy enough to go across the top of Arch Rock. When I think of what could have happened. It’s no wonder your mother screamed. If you and I are ever committed, we’ll have something to talk about.

    The Carriage Lantern was a very nice restaurant. I had my mother come to the Island for her birthday on August 6, 1955, and we ate there. It would have been her 48th birthday. What a nice memory that has been over the years and now I’m almost 72. Time sure flies.

  10. I just love Lowes story! How fasinating!! So nice to read about what the Island use to be like years ago! Thanks Lowe and Bree!!!

    • Hmmmm – I’m thinking maybe Lowell should start a blog for all the folks who worked on the island “back in the day”. What fun THAT would be!

  11. Thanks Lowell for your memories and thanks to Bree for posting them on here. I love to hear about the older history of the island!

  12. No, Lowell, you weren’t the only one! My brothers and sisters all crossed the Arch back during the 40’s. I came along so much later – I never had the guts. But I do remember climbing through.

    And Barb, the curio shop was at the top, between the Arch and where the ‘new’ restrooms are. Jeanette Doud ran it. I still have a cedar box I bought there in the 60’s sometime. I don’t remember when the State Park Commission got sticky about concessions in the park – I think around the time the College started.

    Sorry, I thought people weren’t really interested in my reminiscences!

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