A couple weekends ago, my friend Sara and I, fellow nostalgia addicts and antique aficionados, spent hours at Lambs’ Gate, an antique store in Old Town, Lansing. We spent more than an hour hunched over a large crate propped up to waist-level that was full of old postcards. We marveled over the dates and handwriting and content on them and read the most interesting/funny/illegible ones out loud to each other. The postcards were conveniently sorted by region, with Michigan having its own section. Naturally, that was where I concentrated my search efforts.
I walked away from Lambs’ Gate that day with only five postcards, though I had at least ten in my hand at one point. I’m really regretting that I didn’t buy two other postcards – one for the Brisbane Shell Cabins in Escanaba which no longer exist, and one from the ’50s, on which the correspondence noted Pa “mowing down on chips, cheese, and beer.” Sometimes there’s only so much you can spend on vintage postcards when you never meant to spend anything in the first place. This is the start, but certainly not the end, of a new collection habit of mine. Watch out.
1) Sara found this postcard for me. I thought the bridge and the sea gulls made a pretty great composition. Sadly, this one had no correspondence and was never sent in the mail.
Back: THE MIGHTY MACKINAC BRIDGE – This masterpiece of the bridge builders art was completed in 1957 across the Straits Of Mackinac to connect the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. With the main towers 552 feet above water, this five mile long bridge is the world’s longest suspension bridge.
2) Miner’s Castle “In the Land of Hiawatha”
Back: Postmarked August 1, 1938, 10am, in Newberry, Mich. Addressed to Miss Minnie Ackerman, Grand Blanc Michigan, R. #1 Description: Miner’s Castle, near the mouth of Miner’s River in a state park known as Pictured Rock Site, rises about 150 feet directly out of Lake Superior. It is located some five miles by water from Munising and about fifty-five miles from Marquette and Manistique. Dated July 30, 1938.
The postcard reads: “We are certainly seeing some sights Fall and a Wonderful Spring they say a Indian Brave was cross with his sweetheart and threw himself in and his sweet heart in Remorse threw her self in to be caught in the Spring and at times they think they hear their voices hope you are better. Unk & M???” (I assume he is referring either to Tahquamenon Falls or the falls along Pictured Rocks; the Spring he refers to is of course Kitch-iti-kipi.)
3) There is no information or message on the back of this postcard, and it was never sent in the mail. It is a 1939 photograph of Upper Tahquamenon Falls by L.L. Cook Co. of Milwaukee, Wis.
4) This postcard depicts tourists at the tower viewers on the Mackinaw City side, and was sent less than a year after the bridge was opened.
Back: MACKINAC BRIDGE AS SEEN FROM SHORES OF LAKE MICHIGAN – MACKINAW CITY, MICHIGAN Postmarked July 16, 1958, 4:30pm, in Niagara Falls N.Y. Addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Robert C. Jeffers, R.R. #3, Quincy, Michigan.
The postcard reads: “Dearest Folks – Yesterday we saw the Straits, the Soo locks and ferried over to Canada from Sault Ste. Marie, & since then have been traveling thru Canada – last nite we stayed at a camp near Sudbury. We hope to make Niagara Falls tonite, will stay with Virginia until Thurs. morn. then take off for E. Lansing. The sleeping in the car is working out fine, and we are having a fine time. It surely is a ‘forest primeval’ up here in Canada and people live very primitive. We will see you. Love, Mildred & Dave.”
5) Illustration of an ore freighter passing under the Mackinac Bridge in the moonlight
Back: Postmarked July 26, 1971, PM, in Rudyard, MI 49780. Addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Clarence Daglow, Rt. 1, Camden, Mich., 49232. Description: MACKINAC BRIDGE – Longest Suspension Bridge, anchorage to anchorage, in the World – connecting Michigan’s two peninsulas – opened to traffic Nov. 1, 1957. FACTS:
Total Length of Superstructure – 19,205 ft.
Total Length of Suspension Bridge – 8,614 ft.
Length of Main Span – 3,800 ft.
Length of Bridge and Approaches – 26,444 ft.
Height of Towers above Water – 552 ft.
Depth of Tower Piers Below Water – 206 ft.
Clearance for Ships at Center – 148 ft.
Width of Roadway – 48ft.
Main Cables – 2; Diameter – 24 ½ in.
Estimated Weight of Superstructure – 76,300 tons
Cost – $96,400,033.33
Read more Mackinac Bridge statistics
The postcard reads: “Hello Neighbor, Here we are in the U.P. and having a good time. Hope all are O.K. See you later this week. Harold & Nellie”
Those last two postcards were both printed by the Teich Company of Chicago, Illinois, started by Curt Teich, a German immigrant and well-known postcard maker. He is perhaps most known for his “Greetings From…” postcards, and our very own U.P. was immortalized in this colorful Curt Teich original (picture at top). A couple friends of Yooper Steez have pointed out on our Facebook page that Laurium and Tahquamenon are misspelled. As a Gladstone/Escanaba native, I was puzzled by the small “Maywood” on the east side of Little Bay de Noc. Turns out it’s part of the Hiawatha National Forest in Rapid River. Any guesses as to why “Mackinac” is where it is? Mackinac County’s seat is in St. Ignace. Regardless, we can agree it’s a beautiful postcard and a much more cartographically correct representation of the “Northern Peninsula of Michigan.”
What Upper Peninsula collections do you have? Any vintage postcards?
If/when Yooper Steez creates a U.P. postcard, what would you most want to see on it?