Mackinac Island Winter Update – Vol. 9

Hello, hello, hello!

Since I wrote here last week, there’s been a lot of winter weather on the Island (not so much snow, but lots of COLD).  Cold on Mackinac means ice, and ice means no more ferry service.  Arnold Transit ran its last ferry on Saturday, January 28.  The day before that the Huron, Arnold’s 90-foot freight ferry (which also carries passengers in the wintertime) became stuck in the ice on its last trip of the day.  Loaded down with islanders and the Grand Marais basketball team (on the way to the Island for a game that night), the ferry was aided by the Coast Guard cutter Biscayne Bay and made it safely to the Island and back to St. Ignace.

Heather May took this photo from the shore of the stuck ferry, with the Coast Guard ship arriving to help. From this angle, the ice doesn't look that bad out where they are, but . . . .

. . . this is a photo Mary McGuire shared from someone who was on the ferry. Yikes!

From this point on, until the ice bridge forms (IF the ice bridge forms), the only way on and off the island will be by plane from Great Lakes Air.

News items from the St. Ignace News:

  • The Mackinac Island Winter Festival will be Feb. 4-5.  Island residents and visitors will gather at Great Turtle Park on Saturday (the 4th) from noon to 3 p.m. for snow bowling, snow golf, sledding and children’s games.  On Sunday there will be a brunch at the Mackinac Island Public School from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., and from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. there will be a raffle, a silent auction, archery, bingo, a children’s carnival, and snow volleyball.  Proceeds from the festival go to the Mackinac Island Recreational Development (MIRD) and are used to purchase playground equipment, cross country skis, and snow grooming equipment.
  • The 18th annual Chili Cook-off will be Feb. 11 from noon to 5 p.m. at Cawthorne’s Village Inn.
  • The shipping season ended at midnight on Jan. 19 at the Soo Locks when the Saginaw, a 639-foot long carrier cleared the locks.  This was three days past the traditional closing date of the navigation season.  During 2011, 4,040 cargo vessels passed through the Soo Locks, carrying almost 75 million tons of iron ore, coal, grain, and other commodities.  In addition to cargo vessels, 3,175 tour boats, private boats, and other recreational vessels used the locks in 2011.  (If you missed the blog post about our visit behind-the-scenes at the Soo Locks last September, you can read about it here:

A great shot of the ice taken by a Chippewa Hotel employee.

Some interesting on-line articles about our favorite Island:

  1. National Geographic Daily News reports on “America’s ‘Lost’ National Parks”:
  2. This article was written in 2007, but it’s a super piece on Mackinac Island dock porters – and the bikes they ride.  It’s posted on Out Your Backdoor and is entitled “The Dock Porter Bikes of Mackinac Island”:
  3. Love this!  At “Where Next?”, the travel blog at, Mackinac Island is named 2012’s BEST family vacation destination:

That’s all I have today, but here are a couple of Heather May photos!  Thanks, Heather, for always being willing to share!

Wintertime taxi!

The Mission House is getting a new roof!

Ted and I have a friend on the island who makes pottery.  Jay Barch owns Spinning Turtle Pottery, and I have one of his vases on our mantle in the condo. Look for a blog story about Jay and his business this summer!

Here, Jay uses his balancing skills to transport a batch of bowls over to his kiln.

A beautiful winter scene (Market Street) from May's Candy Shop.

See you back here next Wednesday!  God bless.

16 thoughts on “Mackinac Island Winter Update – Vol. 9

  1. Horses and snow…together…magical. Makes me think they should be wearing bells so that you hear them coming in the snow,.. like a Christmas commercial. 😉 Thanks Heather for the great pictures!

  2. Bree – I am confused as to the logistics of the picture of the ice and the bridge, do you know the location the picture was taken. If it was east of the bridge, the lighthouse, etc. are missing. Is that indeed Round Island?

    • I understand your question, Carol. Although this was taken by a Chippewa Hotel employee, I have no idea where he/she was on the island when the picture was taken. I’ll try and find out for you.

      • The guessing game begins:

        I think it was taken from the boardwalk.

        Do I get a prize if I guessed right?

      • For Carol and Lowell. I contacted Brian Bailey, general manager of the Chippewa. His educated guess was that the pic was taken from the ferry as it rounded the EAST side of the island (taking the long way around and going behind the island to St. Ignace because of the ice).

  3. One thinks of island brides during the summer but the island looks so pristine in white it brings a winter bride to mind. I’m so glad your people send you pictures so that your other people can enjoy the beauty of the winter season.

  4. Brenda,

    I don’t think you could create a bad blog, even if you tried. This one is no exception to excellence. The pictures you selected were wonderful and the descriptions were top notch. Thank you, Thank you! And thank you, Heather. You “done good.”

    I especially like the picture of Market Street used in the header and the Bridge with the ice. I do have one comment though: I don’t think I would like to be riding in the taxi if it was breaking the speed limit.

    • I know Weber’s Florist carries some of his work. He casts a different vase each year for the Lilac Festival, and I have one of those. I’ll check with him to see where else he sells them.

  5. I heard about the ferry getting stuck in the ice from a friend that went up to St. Ignace last weekend. That must have been an adventure for the passengers!

  6. When I was at Mackinac a couple of weeks ago, I took the winter taxi and George was my driver. He is so tiny and with his Carhartt’s you can only seeing his face. According to the webcams on Mackinac, their snow is melting again. Those poor people don’t know whether to pull out their bicycles or ride their snowmobiles!

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