Monday, September 25, 2006

Another Island

Earlier this month Lou Ann & I took a trip to the Upper Penninsula of Michigan. We ventured as far north as Whitefish Point and toured an old Life Saving Station there on Lake Superior. It was fascinating to learn how the lives of the crew members and their families were similar to (and different from) the lives of the surfmen on the Outer Banks.

On the way back we parked our car and boarded the ferry to Mackinac (pronounced "Mackinaw") Island. We stayed several days and enjoyed seeing another island community. Although much like Ocracoke in many ways, there are considerable differences. Mackinac has no ocean beach, of course, and the water there is much colder. They have a larger tourist industry (though a shorter season), and many fine old Victorian homes with beautifully manicured lawns and gardens. Many of these "mansions" are private vacation homes belonging to wealthy business men and women. There is also an impressive old hotel, the Grand Hotel, that dominates the view from the water, and an historic revolutionary era fort full of history.

One of the most striking differences is the absence of motorized vehicles on Mackinac. In 1911, with only a handful of automobiles on the island, a Model T Ford backfired and spooked a horse. The horse bolted and ran over a group of schoolchildren, killing seventeen. Soon afterwards an ordinance was passed banning all motorized vehicles. The island is now dominated by pedestrians, bicycles, and several hundred draft horses pulling wagons, carriages, and drays.

Mackinac is a lovely island, full of history and beauty, but I believe I'll stay put, right here in my little corner of paradise.

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's a history of Ocracoke's historic Howard Street

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