MACKINAC COUNTY WONDERS

Destinations along U.S. 2 are just a day’s drive away

The Mackinac Bridge is shown July 19, 2002 from Mackinaw City, Mich. (AP photo)

ISHPEMING — Whether you crave the over-the-edge experience of a visit to the historic Cut River Bridge, the natural solitude of the sandy beaches in the quiet village of Naubinway, or the bustle of activities in historic St. Ignace, summer in Mackinac County offers a unique experience for every traveler.

Known as Michigan’s gateway to the Upper Peninsula, the county straddles Lake Huron on its west side and Lake Michigan to the east.

Quincy Ranville, executive director of the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau, said attractions in the area provide a varied and worthy experience for visitors of all ages.

“The Eastern U.P., including Cut River and Naubinway, is full of raw, untouched beauty. View nature at it’s finest,” Ranville said. “St. Ignace has a rich culture and a strong historical significance in the Upper Peninsula.”

Cut River Bridge

Located along scenic U.S. 2 between Brevort and Epoufette, the Cut River Bridge may seem unremarkable from the perspective of a driver on the roadway, but it offers an almost panoramic view from the protected sidewalks that run the length of the structure on either side.

Mackinac County has a lot to offer travelers, from breathtaking views of the Mackinac Bridge, to historical sites like Father Marquette National Memorial. (Journal file photo)

The 641-feet-long bridge spans the nearly 100-foot-deep gorge carved by the Cut River through forested sand dunes in the watershed.

A steep hiking trail nearby offers a safe passage down into the gorge where the Cut River empties into Lake Michigan.

Travelers who venture below the structure can see the steel underbelly of Michigan’s eighth largest bridge, in addition to some of the other aspects of the bridge design.

The abutments and piers were also given unusually exceptional detail, in particular, the use of decorative stone facing. The two main piers give the appearance of cut stone arches.

The dates of construction spanned from 1941 to 1946, which encompassed World War II.

Visitors may also choose to stroll St. Ignace’s boardwalk along the lake. (Journal file photo)

Due to the demand for steel during the war, construction on the bridge, which contains over 800 tons of steel, was halted.

The Michigan Department of Transportation restored the historic ornamental sandstone facing on the bridge in 2015.

The roadside park includes picnic tables, some with charcoal pits, restrooms are also available.

According to the Upper Peninsula Travel website, a diverse variety of songbirds use the forested gorge in the spring and summer as breeding habitat and offer good viewing opportunities along the trails. Interpretive markers help visitors identify plants and trees along the way, the website states.

Naubinway

You may feel an echo of the past when you visit the village of Naubinway.

In fact, the word Naubinway is said to come from an Ojibwa word meaning “place of echos.”

The community of Naubinway has the distinction of being the largest commercial fishing port on the Great Lakes in the Upper Peninsula and the northernmost community on the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Visitors get the unique opportunity to purchase fish caught locally right off of the dock, according to the Pure Michigan website.

The Garlyn Zoo is another popular attraction. Situated about 6 miles east of Naubinway, the wildlife park is home to hundreds of native North American Animals including alligator, badgers, fox, wolves, bobcat, whitetail deer, cougar, river otter, porcupine and bison.

The zoo also features exotic animals from around the world, like Siberian tigers, Syrian brown bear, Patagonian cavy, ring-tailed lemur, reindeer, sika deer and sulcata tortoise, just to name of few.

Downtown Naubinway also offers visitors an opportunity to visit the one-of-a-kind Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum.

This nonprofit facility has been providing visitors the opportunity to see a variety of vintage snow-machines and learn about their history, as well as the origins of the area since 2003.

St. Ignace

Ranville said St. Ignace offers an abundance of activity and recreation to visitors.

“Nestled on the shores of Lake Huron, St. Ignace has many unique attractions, including two Native American Museums and a shop selling handmade Native goods, (as well as) many shops and restaurants and ferry boats to Mackinac Island,” Ranville said.

Friday through Sunday (July 14, 15, 16) is Heritage Days, a special event in St. Ignace that celebrates the city’s origins.

St. Ignace is more than 345 years old, according to the Heritage Days website, founded in 1671 by Jesuit missionary Jacques Marquette.

“Whether you are a life-long resident, have relocated away from this area, or an occasional visitor,

St. Ignace carries your spirit here and you are considered part of our community,” the site states.

The festival celebrates the variety of cultures that have contributed to the rich history and development the city, the site states, including the Ojibwa, Wendat (Huron), and Odawa tribes, French explorers and traders, English settlers and American entrepreneurs.

Festivities over the weekend will include workshops, authors, music, dancers, demonstrations, teaching and much more at Fort de Buade Museum and the Museum of Ojibwa Culture during the event.


If visitors can’t make it to the Heritage Days celebration, the city also boasts daily events during July and August including:

• Walking tours every Monday and Tuesday

• Wine Tasting every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, Bike Night every Friday

• Real Street Theatre every Saturday

• Fireworks every Saturday


August will start with a Mini’s on the Mac event, Ranville said.

According to a Mini on the Mac press release, on Aug. 5 the group will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest parade of Mini cars.

The current record, which was set by the London & Surrey Mini Club Owners in the UK set the record with 1,450 Minis.

Mini on the Mac organizers got close during its event in 2015 with 1,300 Minis.

For more information on events or attractions in Mackinac County, or to view a detailed calendar of summer events in St. Ignace, visit the Chamber of Commerce web page at www.saintignace.org.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.