Massasauga Rattlesnake, Michigan's Venomous Rattler

Snakes Need Better Public Relations

They have been vilified since the earliest of Bible tales, and their overall reputation hasn’t improved markedly since.

But there are plenty of people who have more respect for snakes – especially those species not well-regarded.

In fact, Michigan has become an important laboratory for the study and preservation of one of them, the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, the only venomous viper that inhabits the state.

Massasauga rattlesnakes were listed as a federally threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 2016 and are thereby protected animals.

The massasauga rattlesnake is Michigan's only venomous snake. By rattlesnake standards, massasauga rattlers are small, averaging about 2 feet long as adults, reaching a maximum of about 30 inches.

The term “massasauga” means “great river mouth” in the Ojibwe language and was likely given to these snakes because of the places the pit vipers are found.

They inhabit wetlands and feed upon small ma…

US Life Saving Stations in Michigan

Disaster on the Great Lakes Prompts Creation of the Life-Saving Service
By the mid-1800s, during the beginning of Michigan's lumbering era and intense growth and settlement of the Upper Great Lakes the shipping industry was facing disaster. Over 4,500 vessels foundered, 1,300 people dies, and tens of millions in monetary damages occurred on the Great Lakes. These astounding losses prompted Congress to authorize legislation putting the United States Life-Saving Service (USLSS) into operation on the Great Lakes in 1854.
The service replaced the previously all-volunteer life saving stations were converted to house paid crews.
The Life-Saving Service was merged into the United States Coast Guard in 1915.
United States Life-Saving Service (USLSS) Tenth District Lake Huron Sand Beach/ Harbor Beach, 1881
Pointe aux Barques, 1876
Grindstone City/Pointe Aux Barques/Port Austin, 1881
Ottawa Point, 1876

Sturgeon Point, 1876
Thunder Bay Island, 1876
Alpena/ Middle Island, 1881

Pigeon Michigan Amusement Parlor c1900

This picture of a street scene in Pigeon, Michigan is thought to be taken right around 1900. The amusement parlor or penny arcade was popular in the 1890s through early 1900s. These storefront shops were stocked with slot machines, phonographs, muscle testing machines, guess your weight scales and fortune telling card depensors. The clientele was typically men and these storefront amusements were very popular. 
The most popular attraction was kinetoscope, a moving picture peep show that some called penny vaudeville. By the time this picture was taken, it's likely that the owner was also showing moving picture shows for five cents a sitting. The typical amusement parlor or dance hall would wall off a back room and set up benches, a screen and projector. One reel shows could be shown for a nickel. These small initial theatres sprung up like weeds in large cities and small towns as they were inexpensive to set up and run.

Despite our best attempts we don't know too much about th…

Steamship City of Detroit III - A Floating Masterpiece

One of the Largest Sidewheel Steamships on the Great Lakes
In Thumbwind's popular post;  Great Lakes Cruising History – Luxurious Times, it pointed out that by the 1870s competition was forcing shipping  companies to go beyond the bare bones of transport and create an experience for the travelling passenger or tourist. By the early 1900s the golden era of steamship travel was in full swing and the race to put larger ships into service was evident.
The City of Detroit III was part of the Detroit & Cleveland Steamboat Line. The steamer was designed and built in 1911 by Frank E. Kirby. Kirby was considered  the greatest naval architect of the Great Lakes. Called the "D-3" the ship operated from May 1912 until 1950.

The ship was built by the Detroit Shipbuilding Company in Wyandotte, Michigan and launched on Oct. 7, 1911. Costing an estimated $1.5 million, ($32m today) it was the largest paddle wheel ship on the Great Lakes at the time.  Standing over 50 feet high with …

President Nixon Visits Bad Axe Michigan, April 10, 1974

President Richard Visit to Michigan's Thumb During the Spring of 1974 the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover-up was still unfolding but yet to fully engulf the nation. However, the break-in was in the news and the President wanted to hit the road with a campaign day. A special election was to be held for a House seat pitting popular Republican James M. Sparing against Democrat J. Bob Traxler in Michigan's Eighth Congressional District. It was an opportunity for some good news that Nixon was desperate for. 
The trip started in Saginaw and then crossed the Thumb with stops in Bad Axe, Cass City and Sandusky. The New York Times coverage of the event describe the crowds as curious and numbering in the several thousand as the President spoke at each stop.
This Diary of events comes from the Nixon Presidential Library in California.
April 10th 1974 9:12 am - The President went to the South Grounds of the White House.

9:16 am - The President flew by helicopter from the South Gr…

Two Views of Cass City in 1930 & 2020 - A Transition of Time

Two Views of Cass City This amazing west-facing view of Cass City Road in Cass City has stayed somewhat unchanged for the past 90 years. Some of the buildings remain, many have been remodeled. However, the ornate trim and front facades and balconies are long gone.

The New Sheridan Hotel The three-story building on the left was the Sheridan Hotel built-in 1895 by Michael Sheridan. It was considered a skyscraper in its day. Constructed of iron, brick, and glass and topped with a distinctive "witches cap". This Victorian-era structure was a common project in successful smaller towns across America and it was a point of pride for the residents of Cass City.