It's Spring Here Folks

While the rest of Michigan announces the entrance of the spring season, here on Beaver Island it isn't the first crocus, it isn't the first robin, it isn't the first tender unfurling of green leaves.  Nope, none of the above.  When you live on an island in the middle of northern Lake Michigan the one thing that "officially" announces the coming of spring is... the arrival of the ice breaker.  In our case, it isn't actually an ice breaker, it's the United States Coast Guard cutter Acacia.


The USCGC Acacia (WLB 406) was second to the last of a fleet of 37 similar vessels completed during World War II. The USCGC Acacia was named after the U.S. Lighthouse Service Acacia, the only Lighthouse Service vessel sunk during World War II. The USCGC Acacia is a multi-purpose vessel, nominally a buoy tender, but with equipment and capabilities for ice breaking, search and rescue, fire fighting, logistics and other tasks as well.

For those who are interested in the technical stuff about this vessel, it was built by the Zenith Dredge Company of Duluth, MN and launched on September 1, 1944.  The Acacia is 180 feet long with a navigating draft of 12 feet 8 inches.  She has a beam of 37 feet.  Engines are two Cooper-Bessemer diesel electric engines with a shaft horsepower of 750 hp for each engine.  Maximum speed for the Acacia is 14 knots.  The complement is 48 crewmen made up of 6 officers and 42 enlisted.

It came in about 1:30 Monday afternoon, looming out of the snow flurries that were passing over.  Prior to entering the harbor there was quite a bit of open water to make the passage a bit easier.  Then came the ice and it was thick.  As in previous years, most everyone gathered at the ferry dock to watch the ship chew its' way through the ice.   Teachers brought their classes, the newly retired came to see the sight for the first time, those going shopping or checking the post office stopped for a bit to watch.

You seldom think of it, but as the ice breaker works it's way to the docks, it creates loud noises... screeching, rumbling, snapping and the ice bends and breaks and as the floes slide along the icy cold sides of the ship.  Standing on the bow of the Emerald Isle you can feel the vibrations, the rising and falling of the water, the power behind the ship breaking the harbor open for navigation.

Now your crocus, robins and green shoots are nice, but give us islanders the ice breaker any time... it means we are no longer so isolated.  We can get our cars to the mainland, bring over large items and of course welcome our snow birds home again from those warm places like Arizona, Florida, and Texas.   Spring has arrived on Beaver Island!


Tim McDonough

A "Shining" Example

He reminds us of that old cartoon, Under Dog.  He's unpretentious, quiet, seldom seen and not often heard from, shy but capable and our very own Beaver Island Fire Chief, Tim McDonough!

If the Fire Auxiliary ladies ever decided to "roast" him again, they will have even more material now.  It seems that our lad here tried to help out a young neighbor boy who couldn't get his four wheeler started.  The neighbor kid somehow forgot to mention to Tim that his parents had told him NOT to mess with the four wheeler.   Tim got the machine to start just fine, however, it seems that the accelerator was stuck and once the machine started it had a mind of it's own.  It took off down the hill with the little kid hanging on for dear life and our hero trying to rescue the kid while being dragged along for the ride.  Thank goodness for snow banks... the four wheeler came to a stop at the bottom of the hill entangled with one small boy and one fire chief who is now sporting four stitches, scratches, bumps, bruises and a dandy shiner which is why Tim McDonough has been named Beaver Islands' Shining Example.  Oh, the four wheeler?  It's going to remain back in the garage for a while. 

Get Well Soon, Daniel

Daniel McDonough, son of Joe and Tarry McDonough, and a 9th grader at the Beaver Island Community School just went through two serious operations in the past two weeks.  Since Dan will have to go through a lot of therapy, it might be nice if we sent him some cards to cheer him up.  His address is:

Daniel McDonough

Room 504

c/o Children's Hospital of Michigan

3901 Beaubien

Detroit, Michigan 48201

Children From the Land

of the Crooked Tree

Submitted by Liz Gowans, Public Relations Director, Crooked Tree Arts Center

The Crooked Tree Arts Center is bringing together five area schools to compose and record a CD, titled, Children from the Land of the Crooked Tree.  Dan Hall, a folk musician who travels throughout the state of Michigan conducting similar projects, will work with each school to write a song. The teachers and students select topics based on our region and compose the music in an open and interactive environment. Each school has been preparing for this  project by researching the Little Traverse Bay Area.  The each school will rehearse their song with Mr. Hall and continue rehearsing with their teacher until June.  Mr. Hall will return in June to record the songs at the Crooked Tree Arts Center along with the students from each school.  The CD will be available to the public for sale in mid-summer.  The Crooked Tree Arts Center has received a mini-grant from the Cheboygan Area Arts Council, a regional regranting agency for the
 Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs for this project.

Dan Hall has an extensive background with children's musical presentations.  His Story Song Creations Programs and Song Creation Workshops have introduced more than 15,000 children to the process of song writing and recording since 1989.   Hall has recorded four CD's including children's and folk music.  Visit his website at for more information and his current projects.

Dan Hall will visit schools on the following dates:
Mon., March 26 East Jordan Elementary School
Tues., March 27 Charlevoix Elementary School
Wed., March 28 Petoskey Ottawa Elementary School
Thurs., March 29 Beaver Island Community School
Fri., March 30 Pellston Elementary School

The Crooked Tree Arts Center is located at 461 E. Mitchell Street, downtown Petoskey.  Please call the arts center for more information at 231-347-4337.

Bowing and Plucking

Beaver Island Community School kids and adults throughout the community are taking string instrument instruction thanks to the Crooked Tree Arts Center.  This project was made possible through a grant from the Frey Foundation, Petoskey Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation and generous donations from area individuals.

The classes are being taught every Wednesday morning in the basement of the Holy Cross Rectory by Karey Johnson, BM, MM, who has been playing the violin and viola for 37 years.  Her love of stringed instruments shines through as she teaches.  Comments from a few students are: "Awesome"; "She's like that lady in Music of the Heart sometimes strict but mostly making it fun"; "It's fun, but really demanding"; "My arms are killing me".

Crooked Tree is providing the lessons free of charge to those who signed up and the Beaver Island Community School is covering Ms. Johnson's transportation costs.  Jim and Katie Slough, owners of Northern Music Services in Ellsworth, MI, have provided - at modest rental fees - all the violins, violas, cellos and basses for this endeavor.  The Beaver Island contingency is made up of 41 students.  The only cost to the students is the rental or purchase of their instrument of choice.

Beaver Island isn't the only community involved in string instruction.  Pellston, Harbor Springs, Petoskey, Charlevoix along with Alanson and Onaway are receiving the same wonderful introduction into the world of music.

On May 21, all those involved in this undertaking will have their debut performance at Bay View.  If all those signed up now keep working, there will be over 300 performers.

To learn more about the Crooked Tree Arts Center please visit their website at 

High Flying Snow Mobilers

Submitted (after much prodding) by Rich Gillespie

This day, March 2, 2000 started just like the one when I took a dip in January 29, 1999.  Only 3 miles from where I took the big plunge.  had the same snowmobile, suit, helmet, even the same camera!!!   We were only going to Garden Island, then we found the ice was not too bad so we went to Hog Island.  We stood there and agreed that we would only go around Hog on the shore and then head back to Garden.  When we got to the point that is closest to Hat Island I found my self mysteriously drawn to going there.  We sat and debated it about, oh, 30 seconds and off we went.  It was just after arriving there and making a quick circle around the "Hat" (you cannot go ashore, it's posted as a bird sanctuary, for cormorants????????) along came Dennis Glenn with his helicopter who picked up Bud Martin and flew off to the East to check the ice.  Upon returning Bud told me he thought there was a path where we could make it and for once in my life logic prevailed.  Well, actually it was too late to start going to the mainland (thank God).  We got within 3 miles of where I got wet last year which was close enough.  If there were good conditions we would have gone,  but............. Terry Saxton, Adam Martin, Bud Martin and I made that trip.

By the way, it was a pretty nice feeling having that helicopter near by, even though I didn't get a ride (or want one) in the thing!!!!!  

OK, that is enough winter stuff, let's get back into summer shall we?

Don't miss the April issue of NorthernIslander!

It's 20 pages full of fun with photos and articles on...

Islanders who have been communing with penguins!

A "secret" Island Museum!

Tales (and Tales) on the Kuebler Trail!

New Zoning Fees!

White-Tailed Deer of Beaver Island!

Beaver Island Lumber Company - the old and the new!

A Column by Jeff Powers, DVM!

Cooking a la Lois Williams!


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