I’m originally from Chicago, on the western shore of Lake Michigan. I grew up studying maps, and always wondered what it might be like on the other side of the lake. So in the summer of 2017, I circumnavigated Lake Michigan by car, and found myself in Northern Michigan. That’s where I discovered the freshly-painted Menominee Pier Lighthead, and its vivid red & white tower contrasted against the deepening blue water and sky.
What I love about driving around the Great Lakes is the feeling of passing through history. Centuries before roads and cars, the lakes were the primary trade route, transporting people and goods from the East Coast to the center of North America. In this particular place, the lakes served as a major port for the lumber trade during the 19th century. Looking out across the water, it’s hard to imagine that on October 8, 1871, the worst recorded forest fire in North American history raged near this spot, destroying millions of dollars worth of property and timberland, and taking between 1,200 and 2,400 lives. With temperatures rising above 2,000º F, a 'tornado of fire' crossed the lake near Menominee, traveling 20 miles over open water until it reached the opposite side, igniting the shores of Door County, Wisconsin.
Location: Menominee, Michigan
Photograph Date: 2017
Medium: Chromogenic Print