March Madness in Pure Michigan

With March Madness beginning this week, we thought we’d have a little fun on our Facebook page. In the next few weeks, our Pure Michigan Facebook fans will choose their favorite Pure Michigan activity. Here’s how it will work:

The tournament will have 16 activities divided into four different categories. Each day, we’ll post a Facebook question or two with a different matchup. Once the matchup is posted, our fans will have 24 hours to vote on the winner. To vote, just click on the event that is your favorite and the activity with the most votes will move onto the next round.

Here are the first round matchups:

Food and Drink:

Beautiful Views:

  • Watching a beautiful sunset in Grand Haven on Lake Michigan vs. Seeing the Fall colors in Munising in the Upper Peninsula
  • Taking a scenic drive along Oscada on the Sunrise Coast vs. Watching waves crash on the beach in Ludington

Outdoor Activities:

Around Town and Beyond:

We’ll keep you posted on what activities have advanced and we’ll announce the winning activity right here on the blog on March 30th. Don’t miss out your chance to get involved in the Pure Michigan version of March Madness!

How Did Michigan Cities Get Their Names? Part 7

In our ongoing series of how cities in Michigan got their names, we’ve been able to share with you the history of cities from around our state. In case you missed them, here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6. This week, check out part seven, which shares the stories of how five more Michigan cities were named.

As you might have guessed, Holland was settled by Dutch immigrants. They were looking to escape social, cultural and economic troubles in Europe in the 1840’s. The settlement established by them was known as the “Holland Kolonie.” It was formally founded in 1847.

Started as a railroad town in 1883, Pigeon was originally called Berne Junction. However, the new community began calling it Pigeon due to the nearby Pigeon River. The river was named for the huge flocks of passenger pigeons that lived near the river. It’s said the flocks were so thick that, when flying, they blacked out the sky. Despite this though, the passenger pigeon was named extinct by 1914.

Like Pigeon, Ypsilanti wasn’t always known by the name is has today. The city was originally a trading post set up in 1809 and called Woodruff’s Grove after Major Thomas Woodruff. The name was later changed to Ypsilanti in 1829 in honor of Demetrius Ypsilanti. Ypsilanti was a hero in the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire.

Munising is a Native American name meaning “Place of the Great Island.” In 1820 the Chippewa village was located at the mouth of the Anna River, but they later moved camp to Sand Point. Munising was actually officially founded in 1850, but the first civilization was built in Au Train. The town consisted of thirty homes, one blacksmith shop, the bay furnace, a sawmill and a government lighthouse.

Gaylord’s namesake comes from Augustine Smith Gaylord. It was established in 1872 and named Barnes, but it was changed a year later to honor Gaylord, who was an attorney for the Jackson, Lansing, Saginaw railroad. Still, if you were to ask someone why the name was changed just a year later to Gaylord, no one could tell you as the reason for doing so has been lost!

Ice Climbing in Pure Michigan

February’s page of the 2012 Pure Michigan calendar features a photo of an ice climber scaling a frozen waterfall in Munising, one of the state’s most popular destinations for the activity. Garrett Peabody, owner of Peabody Ice Climbing Club in Fenton, shares some insights into this exciting sport and why Michigan is such a popular destination for it.

Q: How does somebody get started with ice climbing?

A: Ice climbing is a lot like rock climbing with respect to movement and belay systems. Understanding those concepts helps when getting started, though they can be learned quickly. Climbing outdoors or in a climbing gym is a great place to practice those skills in a controlled environment. That said, ice climbing requires additional considerations because of conditions and needed equipment.

Q: What equipment do you need?

A: Clothing suitable for cold temperatures with a water resistant shell is best. Harness, boots, ice axes, crampons, helmet and gloves. Eye protection helps too. The equipment is technical, and it helps to have a knowledgeable person go through its features and functions prior to using.

Q: Do you need any special skills?

A: A sense of awareness helps. Ice climbing involves inherent risk. The risk can be addressed by being aware of the situation and learning from others with experience.

Q: Where can you ice climb around Michigan?

A: Most of the climbing in Michigan is focused along the shore of Lake Superior in Munising. There are literally miles of sandstone cliff lined with hundreds of frozen waterfalls ranging from 20 to 210 ft tall.

Q: Do people travel to Michigan to ice climb?

A: Absolutely. Many come from surrounding states as we are home to one of the best ice climbing regions in the country.

Q: Do you have any tips for ice climbers – regardless of experience?

A: Communication is key. Climbing is an individual and team pursuit combined. Being aware of your and your partner’s combination of ability and experience is inherent to safety and success.

Q: How can people learn more about ice climbing?

A: The Michigan Ice Fest in Munising in early February is the best way to see and experience the sport firsthand in its true element. It is hosted by Downwind Sports out of Marquette. Interested individuals can demo equipment, participate in a clinic with a professional climber, view slide shows of their trips, do some climbing and see the scenery. There is a lot of info online. Alternatively, interested parties can contact us if they have questions.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the Peabody Ice Climbing Club?

A: Peabody Ice Climbing Club is an ice climbing venue. Two towers, 45 and 72 ft tall, are iced over in the winter to offer a place for experienced ice climbers to train. Trying out ice climbing on these towers also provides a great introduction to people interested in the sport. The club is located on an old apple orchard south of Fenton. We provide gear and instruction. See our Facebook page for conditions and  general information. Call us at (810)433-3304 or e-mail us at with questions.