Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Changing Tides

Not too long ago someone asked me if Lake Michigan is subjected to the high/low tides just as the ocean. Well, I don't know the answer to the question but I'm inclined to think that it is. What I can say for certain is that the wave action on the lakes can be as powerful as that of the ocean. Look at these two images taken a few years apart. The pier is still the same but the shoreline looks very different due to the significant amount of sand and gravel that has accumulated on top of the rocks along the shoreline.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Graue Mill

Graue Mill Winter Sunset
Sitting on the southern bank of Salk Creek in Oakbrook is an old brick mill dating back to 1852. The mill was built by German immigrant Frederick Graue who settled in what was then Fullersburg, Illinois. Except for the buhrstones, which were quarried in France, Graue constructed the mill using material found in his farmstead or the nearby area. Limestone for the basement was quarried in Lemont; much of the wood came from white oaks cut along the I&M canal while the bricks were made using clay dug and fired in the farm. The mill operated for seventy years, going out of business around 1910. While in operation it was one of the stops of the Underground Railroad. Lincoln supposedly visited the mill in one of his trips from Chicago to Springfield.
Salt Creek Dam
The current dam by the mill was built in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). This is the fifth dam at this location, the original one being built in 1837 to help power a saw mill. The dam is 6 feet high and 130-foot wide. Its future is uncertain as it interferes with fish and the upstream quality of the river.
The mill is currently owned by the DuPage Forest Preserve and is still maintained in operating condition.

The images above where taken on two consecutive days after a snow storm blanketed the area. The full set of images are in the DuPage County Forest Preserves gallery on Manuel Diaz Photography.

A few notes for those wishing to photograph this historic mill:
  • the mill is in a heavily wooded area. During the warmer months, the mill is mostly hidden by the foliage.
  • the mill is right next to the road and a bridge. The bridge projects a shadow over Salt Creek and the grounds to the east of the mill during clear mornings. To avoid the shadow, photograph in late morning or on an overcast day.
  • in the evening, sunlight will hit the mill (and trees) until about 45 minutes before the sunset.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Poe's Lighthouses

Although the title Poe’s Lighthouses may conjure images of the writings by Edgar Allan Poe (after all, there is a book with this title), this blog entry has nothing to do with the man behind The Raven. Instead, it focuses on Orlando Metcalfe Poe, a name that to many will be unknown.

Orlando Metcalfe Poe was born was born in Navarre, Ohio on March 7, 1832. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1856 and fought in the Civil War. Poe was instrumental in capturing both Atlanta and Savannah. Under orders from General Sherman, Poe destroyed Atlanta by setting it on fire.

At this point you may be wondering why we are talking about a man that inflicted so much destruction. It is his legacy in the years that follow which fascinate many of us. After the Civil War ended, Poe became the Engineer Secretary of the Lighthouse Board and eventually was promoted to Chief Engineer of the Upper Great Lakes 11th Lighthouse District (1870), a position that came with lighthouse construction responsibilities. During his tenure, Poe became associated with a lighthouse tower design which became known as “Poe style” tower. This style consists of a tall brick tower that tappers from bottom to top. The towers featured arch topped windows and corbels.

Eight lighthouses bear this style of tower, seven of which are pictured below:
New Presque Isle Lighthouse (1870)
South Manitou Island Lighthouse (1872)
Grosse Point Lighthouse (1873)
Au Sable Lighthouse (1874)

Little Sable Lighthouse (1874)
Seul Choix Lighthouse (1895)

Wind Point Lighthouse (1880)

The eight lighthouse is the Outer Island Light (1874) on the Apostle Islands which is still on my list to visit.

Asides from his involvement with lighthouses, Poe also was instrumental in improvements to several ship channels as well as the engineering, design and supervision of a new lock at Sault St. Marie (Poe Lock). While supervising the construction of this lock, he fell and fractured several bones. While recovering from his injuries, he contracted what is believed to be malaria and died on October 2, 1895. He is buried on Arlington National Cemetery.