Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Tahquamenon Falls State Park contains almost 40,000 acres, most of which is woodland with no developments. The main attraction of the park, and the reason for its existence, is the Tahquamenon River with its waterfalls. This is one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi. It has a drop of nearly 50 feet and is more than 200 feet across. At its peak, up to 50,000 gallons of water per second flows over these falls. Downstream there are several smaller falls referred to as the lower falls and these have a small Island between them. You can reach the island by a small boat that can be rented from a concession stand. For the hiker there is a trail between the falls that is four miles in length, one way.
This area inspired Longfellow's Hiawatha - "by the rushing Tahquamenaw". Long before the white man arrived, the abundance of game along its shores brought the Ojibwa Indians to the area, who camped, farmed, fished and trapped along its banks. In the late 1800's came the white man in search of the lumber and the river carried their logs by the millions to the mills. These lumberjacks were among the first permanent white settlers in the area.
The color of the water in the river is said to be from the natural materials in the runoff from the forests surrounding them and the water is very soft, resulting in the foaming seen as it runs over the falls.
Whatever the reason, the falls are wonderful to look at. We walked both sets of falls and took the boat ride to the island for more scenic views.
Camping in this state park has reminded us of the good old days of real camping, as opposed to RVing. The park is filled with tents and pop up campers, campfires burning day and night and adults and children out and about having fun. Smoke fills the air for at least 18 hours a day. We met two Coast Guard couples while here. One of them is the current commanding officer of the new cutter Mackinaw. The largest of the Great Lakes ice breaker fleet. We spent hours around a campfire talking about Coast Guard stuff. Something I have not done in quite awhile.