Exploring a Shipwreck on a Drummond Island Off-Roading Adventure

Today, guest blogger Christian Anschuetz from Modern Explorers tells the story of how his group of thrill-seeking adventurers came across a shipwreck while on an off-roading adventure on Drummond Island.

Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

With everything that progress has brought to our modern world, it’s refreshing to know that there are still places on the planet that remain pristine.  Perhaps surprisingly, Michigan brims with more places like this than many expect, and our group of would-be adventurers, true modern explorers, seek and discover these hidden gems.

Our crew of ten men and women has made it their mission to find these often wild and remote places in the hopes of inspiring others to do the same.  From the northern shores of the Upper Peninsula’s Keweenaw, to the great National Huron and Manistee Forests, they have visited ancient copper mines, followed in the footsteps of Au Sable lumbermen, camped in the ruins of abandoned ghost towns, and most recently, visited the historic Drummond Island.

Here’s the story of how we discovered a well-known, but rarely visited shipwreck, on our latest adventure.

A piece of the Agnes W. Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

A piece of the Agnes W. Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

A summer squall rages across Lake Huron.  Strong winds whip the air and the surf into a frenzy, punishing all in its path.  Today’s victim would be a sturdy steamer that was once the largest vessel to travel the Great Lakes.  But neither her size nor her steadfast crew could protect her from the wrath of Mother Nature, which forced the Agnes W aground.  It was July 3rd, 1918 when the Agnes W crashed into the rocky shoreline and sank.  Nearly a century later, my team and I find ourselves staring at her well-preserved wreckage as we look to the south from Traverse Point on Drummond Island.

Locating the Agnes W on a map was a simple task, but making our way to the wreckage was another matter altogether.  Drummond Island is a beautiful, rugged place, and the path to the sunken ship was long, narrow, and harrowing.  While the off-road vehicles we took down the trail were up to the task, the drivers were tested after just a mile of navigating the sand, mud and stone.  We shared a deep sense of accomplishment as we exited our vehicles at the shoreline and began the hike toward where the Agnes W broke upon the rocks.

Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

As we walked the last quarter mile to Traverse Point, our curiosity grew with every step: What would we find?  Two hundred yards from our destination our group made its first discovery: a massive beam pierced with wrought iron stakes lay upon the shore.  This large piece of debris had to belong to the Agnes W, so with sharpened eyes we moved forward, finding more and more of the wrecked ship along the way.  By the time we arrived at the tip of Traverse Point, we were surrounded by artifacts.  Less than 40 yards away we could see the well-preserved hulk of the steamer peeking through the surface of the water.  Despite the warm air and bright sun, a cool and eerie feeling descended on our group.

Individually and collectively, we wondered about the fate of the crew that night.  What was their experience of the violent collision between ship and land?  How many perished, how many survived?  Some answers to our questions reside in the history books.  Many others have been lost to time.  What the wreckage made clear, however, was that even this great ship was no match for the giant rocks that are the foundation of Drummond Island.  After discussing the little-known history of the Agnes W, we took our last photos and began the hike back to our vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

As with most things on Drummond Island the adventure isn’t complete until you are safely back to your starting point.  This time we tackled the trail off the beach knowing that the surviving crew of the Agnes W likely forged a similar path as they left that shore cold, wet and scared.  Our team departed under far better circumstances, and with a sense of satisfaction that we had found what we were looking for.

During the following days we navigated even rougher terrain as our team explored and discovered towering cliffs, amazing rock formations, old ruins and intriguing Chippewa sites the locals call “places of power”.  For Drummond is a big island with an even larger history.  A land that calls out to would-be adventurers to rediscover her secrets.  A worthy destination for all, and one that deserves the title Pure Michigan.

Have you had the opportunity to explore Drummond Island? Tell us about your experience! 

Check out the Modern Explorers in action and see the wreck of the Agnes W for yourself in the video below.

Christian ModExpChristian Anschuetz embraces the duality of modern life, and freely moves from being a technologist at work, and an avid outdoorsman and adventurer for play.  As an IT executive and entrepreneur, he happily takes the lead of the Modern Explorers crew.  As a former Marine, the path he leads the team is often fraught with obstacles, dirt, and adventure. You can reach Christian at christian@modern-explorers.com. To learn more about the Modern Explorers follow them on Facebook or check out their YouTube Channel.


Maker Faire Detroit 2014 Keeps Makers in Michigan (Plus a Giveaway!)

Tinker, hack and mingle with over 400 makers during the ultimate festival of invention and creativity at the world’s original Maker mecca. Maker Faire Detroit returns to The Henry Ford July 26-27, 2014! Today, guest blogger Maddie Rich fills us in on what you can expect from young inventors at the popular event this year.

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

Celebrating our fifth year, Maker Faire Detroit 2014 will welcome back more than 400 makers with everything from robots and knitters, to flame shooters and power tools drag racing later this month. Maker Faire Detroit is a great opportunity to see makers of all ages, from kids to makers in their 80s. As an intern here at The Henry Ford, eager to attend my first Maker Faire, I am particularly interested in seeing the young adult makers and what new innovations and ideas are coming from them. Each year, local college graduates leave Michigan to find jobs and opportunities elsewhere. This hurts the state’s economy and makes it near impossible to grow and flourish. Maker Faire Detroit showcases the talent in Michigan and other areas and gives creative, innovative minds a place to interact and share ideas.

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

One participant in particular that proved to be full of talented innovators and is passionate about keeping bright, young minds in Michigan is Central Michigan University. CMU will be bringing student-made projects that showcase the skills and talents of their students. The main attraction will be their small, one-person off-road vehicle that was built completely from the ground up by students in CMU’s Automotive Engineering program. This car competes nationally in the Baja SAE Design Series. Central is also showcasing a movie created by students in the Broadcast and Cinematic Arts department and a student’s photo journalism project that was awarded second place from the Hearst Journalism Awards Program, a prestigious national competition.

I got the chance to talk with the Director of Student Life in the College of Science and Technology at CMU, Heidi Mahon, about their booth and what they do at Central to keep the obviously talented students they have in Michigan.

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

“CMU students stay in Michigan. They do,” says Mahon. She explained that the university is proactive in helping their students create a network with Michigan based companies so many of their alumni end up working with these companies. Mahon, not a native to Michigan herself, sees all the opportunities the state presents for her students. “Michigan is home to so many large, global companies. Dow, Ford, GM, Steelcase, just to name a few. We make sure our students make connections with these companies.” In addition to making sure their students are exposed to job opportunities with Michigan-based companies, they encourage students to pursue creativity and entrepreneurship through their annual New Venture Competition. At Maker Faire Detroit, CMU will be showing possible future students what they can do at Central and how their students are putting their skills to work to help make Michigan better.

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

Central is not the only university that will be present at Maker Faire Detroit this year. Kettering University and the University of Michigan-Dearborn will have booths that will showcase young talent in Michigan. There will also be booths geared towards even younger makers, such as the HYPE program at the Detroit Public Library, to inspire future entrepreneurs and innovators.

Big things are happening in Michigan and Maker Faire Detroit at The Henry Ford is the place to see them in action.

Do you want to score free tickets to Maker Faire at The Henry Ford? Simply tell us in the comments section below why you want to go to Maker Faire Detroit 2014 and who you would take with you. We’ll then select two lucky winners at random to win four tickets to the event. To be eligible, simply submit your comments (along with your email address) by this Thursday, July 17that 11:59 p.m. EST. We’ll contact the winner Friday morning using the email address provided (we won’t share it or sell it to anybody).  UPDATE: This contest has ended. The winner has been selected and contacted via email with their prize. Thank you everyone for the comments! 

Maddie Rich is a junior at Grand Valley State University, studying Marketing and Public Relations. She is a Marketing Intern at The Henry Ford this summer and cannot wait to attend her first ever Maker Faire Detroit. She loves living in the mitten and cannot wait to see what the future holds for her.

Keep These Tips for Recycling in Mind While Traveling in Pure Michigan

Unspoiled natural beauty and pristine forests and lakes make enjoying the great outdoors in Michigan so special. Today, guest blogger Kerrin O’Brien from Michigan Recycling Coalition shares some best practices for recycling while traveling in Michigan. 

Recycle, MI Sleepy Hollow

Photo courtesy of Michigan Recycling Coalition

So, the great Michigan outdoors beacons you to come play?  What drew you?  The amazing fresh water beaches?  Picturesque sand dunes?  Sublime, cool forests?  Or, the rustic and modern places where friends come to eat, drink and be merry?  Whatever your reason for traveling in and around Michigan, take notice of these places.  Do you see litter? Can you find a trash can or better yet, where’s the recycling bin?

What you don’t see in the water, on the beach or in the forest is a big part of what makes Michigan pure.  We care about our peninsulas and it shows.  Michiganders take great pride in the beauty of our state.

As a kid, my family went camping a lot. It’s what young families did in the 1970’s. One camping trip to the Great Smokey Mountains in Kentucky left a big impression on me. Sadly, it wasn’t the beauty of the mountains but the trash dumped off the side of a cliff that left its mark. We never encountered this kind of thoughtlessness on such a grand scale in Michigan. My family spent a day cleaning up that hillside.

Photo courtesy of Michigan Recycling Coalition

Photo courtesy of Michigan Recycling Coalition

Now when my family goes camping, we think about leaving no trace long before we’re in place.  You won’t always have ready access to convenient garbage cans, let alone recycling bins, so it’s important to consider your options before you don’t have them.  We try to make smart choices about the products and packaging we buy before we’re in the woods or at the beach.

Recycling wasn’t yet a big thing in the 1970’s, but neither was complex plastic packaging.  Think about reducing your waste when you’re buying.  Purchasing products sold in minimal, smart, and recyclable packaging will reduce your waste burden and bill.  Recycling, wherever you find yourself, is an important part of the commitment and unfortunately, not always easy.

ReMi_4C_TMGovernor Rick Snyder recently made recycling a priority for Michigan.  We now know that providing Michiganders and visitors with recycling options wherever they go is an important part of keeping Michigan clean and green.  The environmental benefits of recycling are probably clear to many of us, turning our garbage into back into new products puts our garbage to work for us and conserves our resources.  But you know what else recycling does?  It creates jobs and local economic activity that doesn’t involve digging for new resources.

So, on your travels this summer, look for ways to reduce your waste in the first place, choose recyclable products and packaging, buy in bulk, look for or ask for recycling bins wherever you go, pack out your recyclables and feel confident that you’re playing your part in Pure Michigan.

How do you recycle while traveling? 

KerrinKerrin O’Brien has been involved in recycling on a professional level for more than 20 years and Executive Director of the Michigan Recycling Coalition since 2008.  O’Brien’s experience in the Smokey Mountains so long ago gave her the passion and purpose to make a career of reducing waste.  The Michigan Recycling Coalition is an association for recycling professionals and statewide advocate for best practices and policies in recycling. Their Recycle, MI campaign aims at raising awareness of the value of recycling for communities across the state.