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.

Five Items to Cross Off Your Ludington Beach Day Checklist

The beaches of Ludington are no stranger to summer fun! Today, guest blogger Brandy Henderson reminds us to cross these five items off your beach day checklist to make your Pure Ludington getaway complete. 

Photo by Todd Reed

Photo by Todd Reed

1. Find the perfect beach for the occasion

With 28 miles of sandy shoreline, you are sure to find the perfect place to drop your beach towel in Pure Ludington. Known for beautiful, sugar-sand beaches along Lake Michigan, Ludington is home to award winning beaches with lots of amenities, dog friendly beaches where your furry friends can take a dip and secluded natural shoreline for a more private setting. Ludington’s beaches have something for everyone.

Most notably, the public beach at Stearns Park has been the recipient of numerous awards over the years. Recently, USA Today named Stearns Park Beach one of the Top 51 Great American Beaches, representing the #1 beach in Michigan. With well-maintained facilities, groomed sugar-sands, beautiful views of the North Breakwater Lighthouse overlooking Lake Michigan and close proximity to the quaint downtown, this is truly a beach to be experienced.

2. Watch or ride the SS Badger

Photo by Todd Reed

Photo by Todd Reed

Stearns Park Beach is also a great place to catch the historic carferry, SS Badger, setting sail across Lake Michigan. This historic ship is the last coal-powered steam ship operating in North America. The 4 hour trip across Lake Michigan aboard the SS Badger can be filled by enjoying the movie theater, enjoying a drink on the bow, watching the kids play in the arcade or just relaxing in the lounge playing games. The Badger operates between Ludington and Manitowoc, WI daily between May and October. Reconnect and relax on the SS Badger!

3. Enjoy A Michigan Craft Brew

Jamesport Brewing Company and The Mitten Bar in downtown Ludington both serve up some great craft beers, as well as some great food. Jamesport Brewing Company is a micro-brewery and at any time you can try any one of their dozen brews. Jamesport is also a great place to catch the sunset or SS Badger making its way home on their outdoor deck.

The Mitten Bar is quickly becoming a “must stop” destination for Michigan beer lovers. The Mitten Bar has created a destination and culture that celebrates craft beer as well as artisan wine and fine spirits from all around Michigan, right here in downtown Ludington. This quaint little bar serves up 13 taps of Michigan craft beer in addition to Michigan-made wine and liquor.

4. Cool off with an ice cream cone at House of Flavors

Photo by Todd Reed

Photo by Todd Reed

It isn’t a stop to Ludington, without a stop at House of Flavors. This 50’s style diner serves up breakfast all day long and have more than 30 flavors of ice cream to fit your fancy. A popular tradition for locals and visitors is to grab an ice cream cone from House of Flavors and walk to the beach or Waterfront Sculpture Park to enjoy one of Ludington’s breathtaking sunsets.

5. Reconnect with Nature at the Ludington State Park

One of Michigan’s most popular state parks, the Ludington State Park, is comprised of nearly 5,300 acres of scenic sand dunes, marshlands and forests.  This beautiful retreat is one of the best places to camp. It is situated between Hamlin Lake and Lake Michigan with several miles of shoreline and beaches on both bodies of water. In addition to several miles of hiking and biking trails you can enjoy, visitors can also take a short hike to the Big Sable Lighthouse. Your stay at the Ludintgton State Park will be filled with lots of adventures!

IMG_0057Brandy Henderson is the Executive Director of the Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. She is a lifelong resident of Ludington and a Michigan enthusiast.