Tag Archives: Marine City

Along The St. Clair…..

22 Sep

boats 063 (1)

We are driving up M-29 to the city of Algonac, the water speed capital of the nation. You may not know this but Algonac is the birthplace of America’s supremacy in powerboat racing. The city played a leading role in shipbuilding;  from sailing cargo ships to large pleasure-craft, racing boats and landing craft, including the craft used in the Normandy landing. This is where Chris-Craft was born; in 1927 Chris-Craft was recognized as the world’s largest builder of mahogany-constructed power boats. Between 1921-1932 Christopher Smith (Chris-Craft) and Garfield Wood built 10 Miss America’s in Algonac. Gar Wood established the world water speed record of 124.91 miles per hour in 1932 in the Miss America X.

boats 004 (1)

boats 016 (1)boats 040 (1)

boats 038 (1)

Just last summer the Algonac-Clay Historical Society opened a Maritime Museum right on St Clair River Drive in a building donated by Fifth-Third Bank, let’s have a look. The 8,300 sq ft space is loaded with nautically themed displays; several boats are set atop water-like flooring, easels display photos, brochures and newspaper clippings, walls are covered in framed boat designs, photographs and flags. Placards tell the stories of the boats; Winning Ticket was won in a local raffle in 1949–check out the vintage Vernor’s cooler. The Aqua Lady is a cool 19 ft Sports Express Cruiser made by Chris-Craft in 1958 as a kit boat. The inside looks surprisingly roomy; a 2-burner stove, storage and banquettes surrounding a table, pretty cozy! Last Gar is a gorgeous wooden boat with an interesting tale to go with it. Outboard motors, racing boats and a showcase filled with trophies are at our disposal, I learned that Gar Wood won the coveted Harmsworth Trophy 8 times.

boats 031 (1)

boats 030 (1)

boats 008 (1)

boats 043 (1)

On display is a boat dashboard; covered in gauges, shifters, controls and a steering wheel, visitors take a turns being captain. Further on we find another Chris-Craft Kit Boat, this one built by the Algonac High School shop class, next to it is a boat from 1909, both look brand new! There are model ships, a workbench with tools, more literature and facts on Chris-Craft manufacturing. Engines and replacement parts give us insight on what we cannot see ordinarily, it’s fascinating to be able to see the boats up close, there’s so much detail.

boats 056 (1)

boats 078 (1)

boats 082 (1)

boats 068 (1)

Outside, we make our way to the riverfront, the 1800 ft long boardwalk offers benches that overlook the lovely blue water. We sit and watch as the City of Algonac ferry transports cars across the St. Clair River to Canada and Walpole Island; pleasure boats zip across the water under the afternoon sun. Time to head north. Back on M-29 we pass the house that Gar Wood once lived in; I like being able to connect the past to the present.

boats 180 (1)

boats 186 (1)

boats 171 (1)

We are having lunch waterside at Anita’s Riverfront Grille in Marine City. The patio is host to picnic tables with umbrellas that hug a view of the river, colorful flowers and vines topple over the sides of planters, live music is provided by a singer playing guitar. We sip on cold drinks as freighters float downriver, swimsuit-clad boaters skip over the water’s surface in speedboats, smaller boats take a more casual approach, checking out the shoreline as they pass. Our Combo Platter arrives, we waste no time digging in. The wet burrito has a chunky sauce with beans, very tasty, The chicken enchilada and soft taco disappear quickly as does the rice and beans. 

boats 207 (1)

boats 093 (1)

boats 091 (1)boats 092 (1)

boats 099 (1)

Today we are visiting the Mariner, a former movie palace built in 1927. The current owner completely restored the building which is now home to the RMS Titanic exhibit and multi-use venue that houses fine models, historical items, antiques and art. A new period marquee welcomes visitors, a 1917 popcorn machine and peanut roaster reside in the lobby area, 46 original 1930’s style mohair theater seats have been installed along with antique light fixtures. The place is pretty amazing. We begin our visit in the galleries; each one displays the finest quality models of automobiles, ships, aircraft and locomotives, the detail is unbelievable. America-themed posters hang on the walls, shelves are lined with books, there’s a jukebox, a transparent clock tower with a bell and a cuckoo clock. Case to case we study miniature war ships, farm equipment, engines and machinery, all are available for purchase. 

boats 106 (1)

boats 101 (1)

boats 116 (1)boats 124 (1)

boats 118 (1)

The main attraction, of course, is the exhibit: Titanic – The Building Of An Icon. First a quick review: The Titanic was built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, it was the largest passenger steamship in the world at the time. On April 14, 1912 the Titanic struck an iceberg, broke into 2 pieces and sank in 2 hours and 40 minutes. In 1995 the builders of the Titanic approached Fine Art Models (of Marine City) to build the “builders model” of the Titanic. “One very important fact surrounding this model is that by agreement with Harland and Wolff, this model would never be displayed with the artifacts brought up from the Titanic gravesite. Furthermore, the exhibit of this model would never be seen as an effort to profit from this tragic event.” The model has traveled to museums and charitable events across the United States, raising over $5 million to date for non-profits and charitable organizations.

boats 139 (1)

boats 135 (1)

boats 153 (2)

boats 145 (1)

The 18 ft, 1500 lb Titanic model is housed in a glass case, it is the centerpiece of the gallery. We walk around looking at actual photos of the interior and exterior of the ship, reading placards, getting our fill of information before really examining the ship. Completed in 2002, it took 7 years to build the model; artisans worked directly with the original builders, using original drawings. The decking is real wood, so is the deck furniture, the entire superstructure is constructed of brass, 3,376,000 rivets (yes, that’s 3 MILLION) are all placed in their correct location, it boggles the mind. Looking at the model it’s easy to imagine the excitement the passengers must have felt boarding this remarkable vessel, I can almost picture well-dressed couples, strolling arm-in-arm on deck. The story of the Titanic has captured the attention of people all over the world for decades, what an incredible opportunity this is to see the legendary ship (in miniature, of course) up close, to take it in, knowing its ultimate fate.

Marine City: Memories for Sale….

4 Apr

marine 102

Sometimes we all get a little stir crazy, you just want to get away, see something different. Maybe you’re short on time, you don’t have a whole weekend, only a Saturday. Let me introduce you to Marine City, this pint-sized town on the St. Clair River has more to offer than you might imagine; shops and restaurants, a beautiful historic City Hall building, a beach and an incredible water view. Today Kris was in the mood for a scenic drive, M-29 was just what he had in mind, bordering Anchor Bay and up along the St. Clair River it is both pretty and relaxing. Our plan is to do some antique shopping, we begin on Broadway, about a dozen different shops line the street, many of them purveyors of antiques; Back Porch, Old Times N Such,  and Girl Next Door to name a few. Each store seems to have its own special niche; one was almost all glassware and china, I had to be extra careful walking around in my winter coat with my purse hung over my shoulder. This lady has the loveliest cups and saucers I have ever seen, attractive patterns, bold colors and gold trim. She has depression glass in yellow, pink and green, even a souvenir plate from the old Ford Rotunda building, cool! We traversed both sides of the street, buildings are close together making it easy to go from one to the next. Some places are little antique malls, independent vendors each have their own booth adding variety to the selection. We see spiffy vintage radios and cameras, shiny black typewriters and early clock radios; we love the offbeat colors and streamlined styles.

marine 092

marine 101

marine 104

In another shop we see tin toys and rusty metal toy trucks, their wear a tell-tale sign of hours of play. We spy old railroad lanterns with red and blue glass, metal signs, bicycles and vintage instruments. One store has great kitchen ware from tables, stoves and toasters to Fiestaware, cookbooks and aprons. Antique stores are always an adventure, whether you buy something or not; the variety of items and time span covered is pretty amazing. We always see something we have never seen before, today it was a collection of ceramic fish liquor decanters; something that has to be seen to be appreciated. One of the larger places, the Vera Grace Emporium, has a marvelous array of antiques, shabby chic and new items; girls, you will love this place! A perfect blend of new and old items artfully arranged have me ooohing and aahhing at every display. New and vintage jewelry combined with yards of tulle and lace are frilly and attractive. Dark wood china cabinets are filled with delicate glassware, miniature white lights are draped around the pieces for a dazzling effect. An assortment of vintage mirrors, picture frames and upholstered chairs are eye-catching. Outdoor objects and garden pieces mingle side by side with hat boxes and shawls. This store deserves an A+ in eye-appeal and charm.

marine 109

marine 117

marine 113

At last hunger has distracted us from our shopping, we drive around the corner to Water Street and park in front of “The Original” Marine City Fish Company, where we will be having lunch. The restaurant sports large front windows, in the summer you will notice a steady stream of swimsuit clad pedestrians making their way to the beach. Inside, the theme, as you would expect, is fishing. Dozens of fish in a mixture of sizes, shapes and colors are mounted on the walls, funny sayings and fishing paraphernalia fill the wall space; there’s a nostalgic campy feel to the place. The menu offers much more than seafood; homemade pastas, house-smoked ribs and salmon, sandwiches and salads too, they even make their own beef tenderloin Jerky. We looked up from the menu to get a glance at a sandwich on its way to a table, no need to look any further, “we’ll take that!”  It didn’t take long for the food to arrive, a house salad, a side of crispy hand-cut fries and the sandwich; start with a fresh-baked Asiago roll, add a thick slice of brown sugar peppered bacon, a piece of Gouda cheese that has started to melt, top that with a chunk of fork-tender beef brisket drizzled with the house bbq sauce, and there you have it, one incredibly delicious sandwich. 

marine 073

marine 074

There are more antique shops on this block, we stop in at the Water Street Antique Mall, as we enter I notice a variety a nautical pieces and decoys, an old bicycle and a bright orange Chrysler Sno Runner are displayed in the front window. Small rooms off-shoot from the main space, like items are grouped together. A gorgeous wood dining room set has caught the attention of a pair of shoppers. We finish looking around and head to the last shop a few doors down, it is almost closing time so we cannot linger for long. Many of the objects here are closer to mid-century, there’s a swanky bar cabinet complete with a glass ice bucket and matching glasses, a nifty art deco coffee serving set is mighty tempting. Glass ash trays and paper weights showcase fancy hotels and buildings from the early 20th century, so many interesting things to look at!

marine 083

marine 088

marine 127

No trip to Marine City is complete without visiting The Sweet Tooth. It is the weekend before Easter, the windows are filled with fanciful pastel-colored eggs, cute ducklings and spring flowers. Inside you will find the makings of an old-fashioned candy store; the left wall is lined with candy sold in bulk. Here you will find Mary Janes, Hershey Kisses, gumballs, black taffy, licorice and every type of ‘gummy’ or ‘sour’ candy you could want. Shelving units offer nostalgic candy from the 1900’s to the 1970’s, been looking for Zots, Pop Rocks, Razzles, Mallow Cups or a Chunky? They have those and more……At the back of the store a tasty array of ice cream flavors from Hudsonville await you. Served up in a dish or cone, it’s hard to resist flavors like Cake Batter, Tiger Traxx, Orange Pineapple and Sleeping Bear Dunes Bear Hug, and it’s all made right here in Michigan! If that’s not enough, owner Todd also sells his own handmade chocolates; from truffles to clusters, brownie pops and chocolate dipped Oreo’s to chocolate covered bacon and the best variety of barks you’ll ever see, his chocolates are divine. Sweet Tooth is whimsical, delightful and  impossible to leave without making a purchase; Kris selected a jalapeno and a peanut butter cayenne truffle, I went with Key lime and red velvet… and some Zagnut bars….and some Hot Tamales and….well, you get the picture, Yum! 

marine 131

marine 134

marine 137