northern michigan

Wil C. Fry / Flickr

You can't walk across a street in Michigan without stepping on a manhole cover branded "East Jordan Iron Works."


User: Linda Stephan / Interlochen Public Radio

More than 100 years ago, Methodist missionaries set up Indian Mission churches in northern Michigan. The goal was to bring Christianity and to do away with traditional American Indian beliefs.

Today the missions blend those traditions. But they serve small congregations that can’t afford to pay their pastors.

The United Methodist missions have survived with lots of financial help from the denomination, but now leaders say they have to scale back.

For one mission pastor, it feels like a broken promise.

Interlochen Public Radio’s Linda Stephan reported this story.  

* Listen to the story from Linda Stephan above.

Mario Batali / facebook

You know the name: Mario Batali – celebrity chef, restaurateur, infamous orange-Crocs-wearer. But what you might not know is that Batali is slightly obsessed with Northern Michigan – Leelanau Peninsula to be exact.

It seems Batali came across Northern Michigan just like a lot of people did. He married a woman and went on vacation back to a place she knew.

“Initially, I was like, well, I don’t know – a lake seemed small … then I got here. First of all, I didn’t realize we were on an “ocean.” Second of all, the water is as blue as the Caribbean. The sand here is as soft as the most amazing places in Hawaii I’ve ever been,” Batali recalled.

"There's a delicious culture of cherries, and there's magnificent understanding of grapes ... Gastronomically, it is very easy to fall in love with this place, because almost everything is delicious."

* Listen to our conversation with Mario Batali above.

User: waledro / Flickr

An unusual berry should be widely available at farmers markets in northern Michigan this summer. In fact, the region has become the center of saskatoon growing in the United States.

Most people who grow saskatoons around Traverse City were not farmers until a few years ago, but the berry could have a bright future in northern Michigan.

farmer64 / Morgue File

This time on ArtPod, we say a sad goodbye to one of Michigan’s best writers, and wistfully wave to a summer packed with adventures, music, and general art goodness.  

In today’s lineup:

Elmore Leonard was the freaking man

Detroit lost one of its greats yesterday. We’ve got an appreciation and a look back at the fabulous, game-changing career of the “Dickens of Detroit.”

After that, we’re going to go binge on Justified on Netflix as tribute.   

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

If you’re a local in Northern Michigan, especially in a tourist town, you need a few places that are all your own.

That dive bar visitors don’t know. The private beach that’s hidden away.

For Traverse City residents, one place like that is the InsideOut art gallery.

First thing you do there is get a drink at the cocktail bar.

Then, you head to the patio that has no view of the lake (which, hey, no tourists!)

Boat on Northport Bay, Lake Michigan
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

On every great vacation, there’s that moment when you think: hey, we should move here! No really, I’m serious this time!

We’ve all been there.   

Heck, northern Michigan is littered with B&Bs, cafes and art galleries run by vacationers who never left.

New ones open every summer. And every summer, some of them go bust.

So we hunted down some of the folks who are actually courageous (or crazy) enough to make the leap.

landtrust.org

One of the things we most like to do here on Stateside is to highlight success stories in Michigan, to share with everyone what's working well and why.

One of those Michigan success stories is the Little Traverse Conservancy. If you've enjoyed the beauty of northern Michigan, it's a good bet the Little Traverse Conservancy had something to do with it.

We often hear talk about rebuilding Michigan, but what about preserving it?

Tom Bailey is the Executive Director of the Little Traverse Conservancy, and he joined us today from Petoskey.

Listen to the full interview above.

McMILLAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - The fire danger is on the rise in northern Michigan again, one year after a blaze destroyed 31 square miles of forest and marshland in the Upper Peninsula.

The Duck Lake fire was the largest of many wildfires that struck northern Michigan in 2012.

The blaze in Luce County's McMillan Township hit last May and destroyed 136 structures. Another fire destroyed 5 square miles in the Seney National Wildlife Refuge in upper Michigan's Schoolcraft County.

Photo courtesy of Michigan Wines

Michigan’s wine grape acreage has doubled over the past decade, and many say the quality of Michigan wine has also grown dramatically.

But to uncork a young wine region’s fullest potential, you need something more… you need a signature grape.

And there’s debate among winemakers in northern Michigan as to whether that’s been discovered yet.

user farlane / flickr

This year was one of the worst harvests for tart cherries in recorded history. That’s a hard hit considering Michigan is the nation’s largest producer of the fruit.

We visited the Leelanau Peninsula where one family-owned cherry farm has transitioned into a vineyard in order to make more money.

Lake Michigan Sunset
User acrylicartist / MorgueFile.com

Earlier today, Michigan Radio’s Kyle Norris posted a story about Michiganders’ love of traveling north of their hometowns for an in-state getaway.  On our facebook page, we asked fans to join the conversation:

“Ok, let's hear your favorite thing about going ‘up north.’”

Followers posted comments detailing the perks of their favorite spots up north.

Several answered that the drive north is the best part of the experience.

Gary: Crossing the tension line (or "ecotone") between southern and northern forests. The pines and sand sneak in so slowly you barely notice, until they seem suddenly to dominate.

Cathrin: Not only do the trees change, but the landscape begins to rise and fall in drastic contrast to the flat plains of the center of the mitten. So beautiful!

Dani: crossing the bridge to the u.p ...being so close to 3 of the great lakes the beautiful scenery the falls the fudge in mackinaw smoked fish in st ignance and most of all being away from the big city

Boat on Northport Bay, Lake Michigan
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A lot of us in Michigan are passionate about going up north.

“I remember the good old days when my dad would pack us up in the station wagon and head up north. It was 80 acres in the middle of nowhere … I’m heading to Petoskey on Wednesday and on Thursday or Friday to Whitefish Point and Tahquamenon Falls… Tomorrow, I’m making my annual pilgrimage to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.”

Those are comments from Michigan Radio's Facebook fans, answering the question, “Anyone headed up north this weekend?”

But where is up north, and why do we love going?

The definition of “up north” is incredibly personal. It has to do with where you’re from and where you’re headed.  But there seems to be a general consensus, of where it begins, at least for people in the Lower Peninsula.

“In Michigan, I think the north begins right about halfway across the mitten—or you can be a little more exact and say Highway 10. Somewhere between Clare & Ludington," said nature writer Keith Taylor.  He says the world around you begins to change quickly once you cross that line.

“You suddenly start seeing white pines and white birches," he said. "So the trees change.”

Taylor says people have always craved a landscape that’s different from the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives.  For people who lived in Detroit in the '20s and '30s, going “up north” just meant traveling one county over.  These days, “up north” usually means driving a couple of hours in the car.

Taylor says we’re lucky that in Michigan there are a lot of places close by.

“It’s the interesting thing about our state: there’s the major industries to the south employing all those people and we’re so close to the edge of the wilderness," he said.

user clarita / morgueFile

Looking for a clean, well-lighted place to lay your head?

A company has plans to develop a slew of Ernest Hemingway-inspired hotels and resorts. The folks behind Hemingway Hotels & Resorts only have a website at this point, but their plan is to build a minimum of 30 hotels worldwide, all based in places that were in some way relevant to the life, times and adventures of Papa Hemingway.

Photo by Bob Allen/Interlochen Public Radio

by Bob Allen for The Environment Report

Warmer temperatures and melting snow are less than ideal for winter sports and outdoor festivals. But the weird weather has northern Michigan fruit growers holding their breath, hoping to avoid disaster.

In his more than 20 years as an agricultural extension agent in the Traverse City area, Duke Elsner says this is the most bizarre winter weather he’s ever seen.

“The ups and downs have just been remarkable. The inability to hang on to a cold period for any length of time has been very strange.”

A gradual drop in temperature at the beginning of winter and holding there below freezing for long periods are the ideal conditions for plant to become frost hardy, and hardiness is what protects them from getting damaged by cold.

But when temps bounce up into the 40’s and 50’s as they’ve done frequently this winter, some of that hardiness is lost.

“Our trees and vines can take below zero in a normal winter. I sure wouldn’t want to drop below zero at this point in time, I’ll say that.”

That’s fruit grower Jim Nugent. He and a couple of his neighbors are doing the yearly chore of pruning his cherry trees.  With long-handled saws, they reach up eight or ten feet to strip away branches and limbs.

Nugent knows his orchard is vulnerable right now because of a loss of winter hardiness. But there’s not a lot he can do about it.

Things could go either way at this point.

A sudden drop to zero would be serious.

But orchards still may slide by unscathed. If temps gradually drop below freezing and stay there, trees will regain some of their hardiness.

The Interlochen Center for the Arts is creating a program that will teach young musicians the "discipline of popular music songwriting."

Interlochen has traditionally been a mecca for classical music, but in recent years the institution (which hosts both a summer camp and a year-long school) has embraced more contemporary art forms.

For example, students can major in "motion picture arts" and study the latest filmmaking techniques.

Interlochen has just posted a job opening for a lead instructor for its new singer/songwriter program.

From Interlochen's website:

This program will lead students to creative approaches to popular musical composition by developing skills in melody, harmony, arranging, and lyric writing, while seeking to nurture a distinct individual writing and performance style.

The northern Michigan institution has taught many young musicians who've gone on to become successful singer/songwriters, including

  • Norah Jones,
  • Rufus Wainwright,
  • Sufjan Stevens,
  • and, most famously, Jewel Kilcher.

Photo by Chris Harnish, courtesy of Interlochen Public Radio

Decades ago, residents sued to stop a fish hatchery in northern Michigan from polluting a lake. More than thirty years later, the legal battles have ended and the pollution has been greatly reduced.

Northern Michigan is home to some of the clearest blue lakes in the world, like Torch, Glen and Crystal.

Once upon a time Wilfred Sweicki says Platte Lake in Benzie County was in that league.

“It was extremely clear, never quite as clear as Crystal or Glen but nearly so.”

Unfortunately for Sweicki and other homeowners on Platte, fishery biologists did something nearby that changed the Great Lakes dramatically.

They planted Pacific salmon in the Platte River.

That was in the late sixties and soon a billion dollar fishery was born.

A hatchery was built and animal waste from millions of fish began pouring into Platte Lake. The waste contained the nutrient phosphorus.

Phosphorous caused algae to bloom, clouding the water and killing a variety of aquatic animals and plants.

It even caused chemical changes in the sediment of the lake bottom that produced milky clouds of a clay-like substance that collects on stones and docks.