Tag Archives: Port Huron

Harvest Days

22 Nov

harvest days 056 (1)

Back in the mid-1960’s it was apparent technology was rapidly changing rural life, there was no going back.  From sugar beets to dairy farms, soy beans to corn, Michigan’s Thumb region was largely agricultural. A group of people saw the need to preserve the past, to provide an understanding of our heritage, to present the origin and evolution of farming and rural living; in 1966 the St. Clair County Farm Museum opened about 15 miles west of Port Huron in Goodells MI. We are here for Harvest Days a 3-day event full of demonstrations of how life ‘used to be’. You can watch huge logs transformed into boards on the Port Huron Sawmill, see steam-powered threshing of wheat, listen to steam traction engines run, visit barns filled with antiques and local memorabilia and walk row after row of restored tractors. There’s something very sweet about the simplicity of those days gone by.

harvest days 001 (1)

harvest days 023 (1)harvest days 003 (1)

harvest days 017 (1)

From the parking lot we have a pleasant view of the property and buildings, barns are painted white with a stone base. We start at the horse barn, no there aren’t any horses here but, they do have plows, old seed advertisements and a wagon, look at the sleigh hanging in the rafters. We find animals in the next barn; a trio of horses in varying patterns of brown and white, all very friendly, a few goats and  roaming chickens. Over in the silo a ladder grips the side, I feel dizzy when I crank my neck to look all the way to the top. Buggies are posed in a row, there’s a single-seat buggy that would be pulled by one horse and a couple of larger ones. The 1903 Studebaker hearse came from a funeral home in Port Huron, all black with glass sides, it definitely looks like something out of an old (spooky) movie. Along the wall is a series of dairy equipment and cream separators, some of them were made nearby.

harvest days 034 (1)

harvest days 032 (1)

harvest days 035 (1)harvest days 037 (2)

harvest days 031 (2)

The area we are in now is more of a local museum, one exhibit is filled with basic antique household items like a rocking chair, clocks, thermometers, tools and lanterns. Area business banners act as cornice boards for displays; Yale Dry Goods, Fort Gratiot Stove and Furnace, Marysville Millinery, Richmond Glass and Pottery. Around the corner the Algonac Home and Appliance Store has a really cool display of old-fashioned washing machines, wringers and vacuum cleaners, rustic is a word that comes to mind… A poster from Detroit Stove Works on Jefferson claims it is the largest stove plant in the world! Of course, it is these foundries that paved the way for the automobile industry in Detroit.The table in the dining room is set and waiting for the guests to arrive, shelves on each side of the buffet hold the china, plates balance on the dish rail, candles grace the table. Home entertainment was provided by the television, here we have an Admiral model, and of course there has always been music. Album covers hang on the wall; you can waltz with Guy Lombardo, Polka with your partner or relax with a little Lawrence Welk. Do you remember any of them?

harvest days 039 (1)

harvest days 042 (1)

harvest days 055 (1)

harvest days 045 (1)

Outside is where the action is. Steam engines, tractors, saws and whistles create a cacophony in the air. Before us antique tractors are lined up like soldiers by brand and color; it’s a lot to take in. We’re certainly not tractor experts, they’re a lot of fun to look at in their bright colors and era-reflective designs; placards identify models and years.  First in line is a Massey Harris Challenger model from 1936, green with red spoke wheels, it’s pretty snazzy. Next to it is another Massey Harris, this one in red from 1955, I like the yellow wheels. Look at the graphics on this model, it’s a “Super” Twin-Power 101. The green Oliver 77 has a yellow-painted grill that looks Art Deco. Here’s a name I recognize, Farmall, this one’s a 1939 F-20. Ford made tractors from 1917-1964 under the name Fordson and Ford. This one is a beauty in red and white, although I must admit, white seems an unlikely color for a tractor–just sayin’. A big ol’ Minneapolis-Moline G90 machine in rusty yellow is for sale, interested?

harvest days 050 (1)

harvest days 057 (1)

harvest days 058 (1)

harvest days 068 (1)

The red paint on the Port Huron Engine and Thresher Co. machine has nearly faded to pink, the lettering is pretty fancy. Over by the sawmill a bright orange Allis-Chalmers looks ready to go to work. We look on as logs are sawn into flat boards. Bales of hay fill the chute of the New Holland. Probably the most popular name in tractors is John Deere, there’s no shortage of them here; they’re easy to spot in their signature green. A Turbo tractor? Why not? Here’s a red International version. The Ford display has tractors in red with white and their signature blue. The ‘Ford Oval’ tool box is cool, as is the tractor pedal-car on top of the banner. So many brands, Case, Row Crop, Cub Cadet, Massey Ferguson, Agri-King.

harvest days 061 (1)

harvest days 066 (1)

harvest days 073 (1)

harvest days 088 (1)

Walking the grounds we see tractors from the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, most are restored, some are for sale, some look like they just left the field in time to make it for the show. We can’t forget the riding mowers…  The Sears Suburban has an 8-speed, the olive-green Sears Twin is so 1970’s, how about the ultra-cool Ford 120 in powder blue and white. Riding mowers and tractors from the 1960’s and 70’s took their cue from automobiles; great badges, lettering, racing stripes. Some of the mowers have been restored, others are in their original condition. By the look on Kris’s face a vintage mower may be in our future. 

harvest days 080 (1)

harvest days 108 (1)

harvest days 094 (1)

harvest days 115 (1)

An announcement is made telling us the Horse Pulling competition is about to begin, having never seen it before our curiosity is piqued, let’s take a look. This is boat or sled pulling meaning it is a friction pull where the runners or flat bottom it has on the ground create friction with the ground it’s running against, they are pulling dead weight, in this case, concrete. A group of men lead their team of horses onto the track, the horses are all keyed up, anxious to get to work. It takes more than one try to connect the horses to the boat. As soon as the start is signaled thick-legged horses bear down, the back half of their body lowers toward the ground, I subconsciously tighten my legs, clench my hands into fists as I watch. It’s over in an instant. Today’s winners pulled 10,000 lbs.

harvest days 127 (1)

harvest days 128 (1)

harvest days 165 (1)harvest days 153 (1)

Walking back to the car we decide to visit the Historical Village in Goodells County Park. All of the buildings in the village have been donated and moved to the park from different parts of the county. The church is post and beam construction from 1860, it was completely dismantled, moved and reassembled here in 2011, it’s quite plain but very lovely, the is the first time I have seen white-painted pews. The Mudge Log Cabin was built in Wales Township by Isaac Mudge during the Civil War (1863), his great, great, great-grandson donated it. The contents reflect the pioneer lifestyle of rural life during that time, note the spinning wheel. The Murphy Ryan Farmhouse built in 1872 came to the park in 1998. The furnishings are all period correct; there’s a stove to warm yourself by, a piano, a pitcher and bowl for washing yourself, looks like they had everything they needed. The Schoolhouse is from 1855, all of the contents were left in place when it was moved from Yale to Goodells. The desks don’t look too comfortable, apparently blackboards have been around forever. The CC Peck and Co building was the local bank in downtown Goodells, built in 1908 it has been restored to its original appearance and is now leased by the Wales Historical Society.

harvest days 154 (1)

harvest days 159 (1)

harvest days 157 (1)

harvest days 173 (1)

Walking through history has given us an appetite, we have just the fix. Palms Krystal Bar in Port Huron has been serving Chicken In The Rough since 1936. Chicken In The Rough was one of the first fast-food franchises in the US, by 1950 they had 250 franchised outlets across the country and around the world; today only 2 are left, this one and one in Ontario Canada. No menu is necessary, as a matter of fact when the waitress approaches she just asks, the usual? Yes. The fried chicken dinner is outstanding; large meaty pieces served in a basket of fresh-cut shoestring fries, a side of slaw and a roll with butter, DELICIOUS. Not much has changed at Palms Krystal Bar, from the aluminum entry door to the fabulous interior; pink neon, glass block, original bar and stools, very Art Deco. As Kris likes to say: Everything cool has already been done.

harvest days 189 (1)harvest days 186 (2)

harvest days 178 (1)

harvest days 182 (1)

Port Huron: Blue Water Roadtrip

5 Sep

poorturon 014

With another scorching summer on hand, we often take refuge with a drive along Michigan’s beautiful blue waters. One of our favorite routes is to follow the shoreline from Lake St Clair to Port Huron via M-29; the turquoise blue water and lake breeze does wonders for both mind and body.  In Port Huron the double span of the Blue Water bridge is picturesque as it crosses the St Clair river; the water turns a cobalt blue as it flows into Lake Huron, Canada awaits on the other side. We parked at the Thomas Edison Depot Museum located on Edison Parkway; in front of us the Thomas Edison River Walk stretches south from under the bridge to the USCG dock; a favorite spot for sight-seers, walkers and fishermen, it is always a bevy of activity.  Today we were in search of a little history and some air conditioning; inside the museum we go!

poorturon 016

poorturon 001

poorturon 011

Built in 1858 for Grand Trunk Railroad the tiny Fort Gratiot Depot is now home to the Thomas Edison Depot Museum. As you can clearly see, young Thomas made a great impression on the city during his boyhood years. The Edison family moved to the area from Ohio, that’s where his story begins. I think it’s cool that this is the actual structure where Thomas worked as a “news butcher”; beginning in 1859 the then 12-year old boy departed daily from this depot on the Port Huron to Detroit run. The young entrepreneur actually published the first newspaper to ever be printed on a moving train, the Grand Trunk Herald; his job was to sell newspapers and candy to train passengers, he was quite successful. There is not a lot of square footage for exhibits, but all look fresh, are done well and give visitors an opportunity to participate hands-on. The timeline continues into Edison’s adulthood and success as an inventor. A restored baggage car is just outside the museum, you are able to go inside and have a look at what Thomas’s printing shop and mobile chemistry lab would have looked like. The museum is really interesting, be sure and stop in.

poorturon 065

poorturon 045

poorturon 038

poorturon 043

We continued our drive south on the parkway to Pine Grove Park where the Huron Lightship Museum is embanked; definitely check this out! Built in 1920 she was launched simply as Lightship 103 of the United States Lighthouse Service. Back in the day, floating lighthouses were used in places where it was too deep or too costly to build an actual lighthouse. A light shone brightly at the top of a mast, ships also sounded fog signals when visibility was difficult. This was the last lightship afloat on the great lakes; it was retired from active service in 1970, enshrined at Grove Park in 1972 and in 1989 the Huron was designated a National Historic Landmark. It is an amazing opportunity to be able to climb aboard such a neat piece of history. We first wandered around the main level and got an idea of what it was like for the crew to live aboard; the galley is long and narrow, complete with stainless steel sinks and counters, a small dining area consists of a simple table and chairs, cots dangle from chains in the sleeping area…..not exactly roomy. We climbed down the ladder into the engine room; originally powered by a compound steam engine, in 1949 it was converted to diesel power using 2, 6 cyl. GM 6-71 engines. Get an up-close look at the gauges, tanks and over-sized components that made this ship run;  hard hats and lanterns hang overhead; I can only imagine how loud it must have been down here. Back up the ladder, a turn, then up another stairway to the weather deck; here you get a complete panoramic view of the dazzling river, bridges and deep blue lake, Wow! Here you also have access to the pilot house, complete with its signature brass steering wheel and numerous gadgets. When we completed our tour it was time for lunch, we drove a little further south to the banks of the Black River to find some outdoor dining.

poorturon 024

poorturon 022

This area of downtown in particular seems to be thriving with new life; every time we come there seems to be a new restaurant or cafe. Quay Street Brewing Co. offers both indoor and outdoor dining on two levels with fantastic water views; we chose outdoor. There was a table available right along the river’s edge; we were on the upper deck, mounds of Wisteria vines hang off the side and create a roof over the patio level. As we started to look at the menu our attention was diverted by the rumbling sounds that can only be made by a powerboat; sure enough we had stumbled upon the 2nd Annual International Offshore Powerboat Races at Port Huron/Sarnia. That’s the advantage of living on the great lakes, it seems no matter where you go or what lake you are near you can always find yourself smack dab in the middle of some great event. Kris inspected the boats more closely as they traveled by on the Black River, going to and from Lake Huron, I studied the menu. First order of business at a brewery; choose a beer. I am very fond of dark beers, so it was an easy choice with the Black River Stout. Food was more difficult because everything looked good. We settled on the Muffuletta sandwich; a wonderful diced olive mixture topping a stack of salami, mortadella, capicollo and provolone on a roll. The Garden Salad was large; crunchy romaine and veggies with a unique lemon-mint vinaigrette, delicious and refreshing. We sat at our table under the shade of a bright yellow umbrella; the food was tasty, the beer, excellent and the boat race an unexpected pleasure. Yes, it’s good to live in Michigan!

3

1

A few local folks told us about a new ice cream shop in town, so we went over to have a look. I know I’ve said it before, but, Port Huron has a gorgeous downtown, the lovely Victorian style of a by-gone era still remains here. The Mackinac Island Creamery on Water St is located in one such building; beautiful red brick and fanciful trim painted in shades of green, looking as pretty as it did when it was new. Inside we discover its former life as a bank; along the back wall a safe serves as a reminder; incredibly fancy it even has a landscape painting as part of its decor. The ceiling is unusually stunning; an intricate wood design that carries down a cove. The shop serves, as you may have guessed, Mackinac Island Creamery brand of ice cream in 12 delicious flavors, they also sell Mackinac Island Trading Co. fudge and  POHO popcorn.  The flavors all sounded good, there is a different feature ice cream each month, the flavor for August was a creamy vanilla ice cream with rich cinnamon swirls throughout, like eating a decadent cinnamon roll, yum! The shop was busy with customers; a family stood by the map of the US placing a pin near their hometown in Pennsylvania. It’s good to see people discovering Port Huron and our beautiful Blue Water Area!

poorturon 081

poorturon 079

Huron Lady II, Palms Krystal Bar, The Atrium Cafe

22 Jul

park 1694

When the temperatures rise above 85 I can almost hear Lake Huron calling. We are lucky to live close enough that we can simply take a ride along the water beginning at Lake St Clair and ending in Port Huron. Nothing beats the heat like being on the water! Sunday was a gorgeous Summer day, the sky was blue and the sun was blazing. With all the windows out of the Jeep, a generous coating of sunscreen, and the company of friends in their convertible, we were off. As soon as we got near the lake you could feel the temperature drop, it is a beautiful ride skimming Lake St Clair and then the St Clair River. We had made reservations on the Huron Lady II for the 1:00 river cruise. Our timing was perfect; we parked at Desmond Landing, checked in and were able to board the boat right away. We snagged some great seats on the top deck under the canopy.

park 1675

park 1712

Lake Huron is the second largest of the Great Lakes and the third largest fresh water lake on Earth. The average depth is 195 ft and the maximum depth is 750 ft, Wow! By freeway Port Huron is only about an hour from Detroit,but take the scenic route if you have the time. The Huron Lady takes you on a two hour ride; Covered outdoor seating is  available on the top deck and air conditioned seating in the cabin. There are restrooms, cold drinks and snacks, everything you need. We began our journey traveling down river; sunlight glittered off the water, the narration calling out points of interest. A steady stream of boaters passed and waved to passengers, freighters carried their loads both north and south, using the space between them we made our turn north to the big lake.  Lovely homes line the US shoreline, historic or newly built all  take advantage of their waterside locations. As we approached the Blue Water Bridge things got more lively, traffic overhead was bumper to bumper going both ways on the bridge, people lined the boardwalk on each side of the river. As soon as we flowed into Lake Huron the water seemed to go on forever, sailboats dotted the view making it quite a sight!  Out into the lake a ways and then it was time to turn back, alas our voyage came to an end. You should definitely go for a ride sometime this summer, it’s well worth the trip.

park 1696

park 1702

It was now 3pm and the four of us were starved, if you are looking for good food and a unique atmosphere the  Palms Krystal Bar fits the bill. Located on Pine Grove Ave just outside of downtown Port Huron they are best known for serving “Chicken in the Rough”. This is an old-time chain from 1936 that served fried chicken, shoestring potatoes, a roll and a bucket of honey, all without the luxury of silverware. It actually feels like 1936 when you walk inside, a mixture of kitsch and Art Deco all backlit with a pink glow. Waitresses are super friendly, the fried chicken; finger- licking- good, you have to try it! The menu offers a large selection; everything from salads and burgers to fish (get the Chicken) and home made desserts. Portions are nice-sized and prices fair, the place is so cool I’d come just to sit and enjoy the atmosphere.

park 1720

park 1725

Our friends had to be heading home, but we were in no hurry. We had passed a little place on Military street a few times and thought it was time to see what it was all about. The Atrium Cafe and Ice Cream Parlor has been open nearly two years now, the outside is unassuming brown brick, street side parking is easy and free, there is nothing from the street that hints to what you will find inside. The truth is we were looking for a simple ice cream cone, we stepped inside and immediately knew this was no ordinary ice cream parlor. The entire interior is finished with items salvaged from homes, buildings and even a church from days gone by. The wainscoting is actually vintage doors turned sideways, rows of theater seats are used as booths in the atrium. Everywhere you look is another amazing find.  They have a full menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and of course ice cream! We were just going to get a cone “to go”, but they encouraged us to come in and have a seat, take a look around and enjoy our treat right there, I’m so glad we did. Somehow we went from a cone to a Turtle Sundae……Creamy butter pecan ice cream covered in Sanders hot fudge and hot caramel, whipped cream, nuts, and the traditional cherry on top. It was soooo good, the only challenge being you had to eat steadily to keep the butter pecan from melting, really, not a problem.  This is just another gem waiting to be discovered in Port Huron.

park 1733

park 1739

Roadtrip….M-29 to Lexington MI

26 May

park 477 Lexington Michigan is one of our favorite small town summer destinations. We made our first drive up for the season on Sunday, and Oh, what a day! The only way to get there is the scenic route of course, probably the best place to begin is New Baltimore. Located in the northeast corner of Macomb County the city rests on the coastline of Lake St Clair, specifically Anchor Bay.  There is a small beach , a playground, and a dock for fishing or just staring off into the lake. They have a Sunday Farmers Market beginning July 17, fresh picked local vegetables and herbs, and lots of homemade goodies to choose from. park 457 From here get on M- 29, it will take you east, enjoy glimpses of the bay between cottages and restaurants, maybe stop in at a roadside vegetable stand, the road continues south through St John’s Marsh. Driving through the marsh is intriguing, there is water of some sort on each side of the road, look for wildlife in the marsh, swans and heron are a common sight. Finally you will head back north up the St Clair River. From here the scenery goes up a notch, the river is less obscured. Algonac is another little town on the water, it has a pretty riverside park where you can stop and stretch your legs. Marine City is the next teeny tiny little town, it has it’s own charm, and seems to be on the upswing.  The historic downtown lies just east of M-29, paralleling the river. We stopped  in at an old fashioned candy store called “The Sweet Tooth“, right on Water Street. It’s really cute inside, they have all the candies from my childhood; like giant Pixie Sticks, Zotz, Blow Pops, and those crazy Necco Candy Buttons; the little pastel candy dots that you end up eating as much paper as you do candy, yeah, those! It’s a place that brings a smile to your face everywhere you look. If it’s a nice day get a hand dipped Hudsonville Ice Cream cone and take it outside to Riverpark to enjoy. The view is as pretty as the ice cream is good. park 451 Bask in the scenery as you make your way, the river is a gorgeous bluish green, it was such a spectacular day for our drive the sunlight danced upon the water. Elegant Victorians, richly decorated Tudor homes and cottages are intermixed on the west side of the road, each looking like they belong, newly built mansions sit back in the distance. St Clair is next, this is a higher end town than the others, the residences here reflect money. Palmer Park is perfect for sitting and watching the freighters go by or taking a stroll along the boardwalk. The St Clair Inn has been around since 1926 and is on the National register of Historic Landmarks. All done up in it’s English Tudor style, it takes you back to a grander place in time. Stop in for a meal or stay for the weekend. park 546 park 472 park 488 Port Huron is the big city with the spectacular view, there’s just too much to list here, so look for a future post about it. I will say this, drive through the historic downtown, it is quite lovely, at its end veer right. Head back to the river and drive along taking in the sights of the Blue Water Bridge, sailboats, Canada, and of course Lake Huron. As you pass the Thomas Edison Inn follow Gratiot to continue the scenic path and avoid the malls and traffic of the everyday life. park 513 park 533 I believe it is 22 miles north on M-25 to Lexington, it is truly a one stoplight town, so don’t miss it! As you make your right turn at that light, you will suddenly feel like you are on vacation. In the distance is Lake Huron, all blue and picturesque, on the right are quaint shops, and restaurants. Lexington T-shirts and hoodies hang in doorways, tourists carrying double dip cones and sporting hats and sunscreen peruse the sidewalks. For all the years we have been coming here Sweetwater’s is where we eat, and what we eat is pizza, either a Sweetwater or a New York, and a Greek Market Salad, you can’t go wrong with an order like that. Sit outside and feel yourself relax, do some people watching as sun worshipers head to the beach. After you have eaten head to the lake yourself, there’s a extensive pier that takes you out in the lake, bordered by huge rocks floated down from Rogers City.  It’s an excellent getaway that lets you enjoy one of our states most significant assets, our Great Lakes, and Lake Huron certainly is great.  park 500 park 511