Paddling into the past
Fayette Travel Blog› entry 4 of 28 › view all entries
Daybreak was fresh, cool, and quiet. I woke to waves lapping gently just a few feet from the tent. It took several moments to remember where I was, then a few more to remember why. Even the gulls were calm until I fired up the single-burner Coleman stove to boil water for coffee and Quaker instant oatmeal - Apple and Cinnamon, my favorite.
The first challenge of the day was to get across Big Bay de Noc to the Garden Peninsula. From five miles away it looked like the smooth edge of a green shag carpet as an ant might see from ten feet. I didn't carry a map but studied a maritime chart on the wall back at the Gladstone Yacht Club. If I paddled due east, Fayette would be off to my right when I reached shore. Wind and seas were calm and after advancing to less than a mile from shore, sure enough, some buildings appeared to the south.
Snail Shell Harbor was well-protected and its entrance only visible from the north. Gray stone buildings and two-story wood houses lined the harbor. Only a couple of sailboats occupied its wooden dock. The well-preserved abandoned town boomed from 1867 to 1891 and is now a State Park - the Historic Fayette Townsite. Iron ore from Michigan's Upper Peninsula mines was smelted into pig iron here. The area's abundant limestone purified the ore and its hardwood forests provided fuel for the blast furnaces. The deep-water port allowed for transport to foundries on the lower Great Lakes. Fascinating as the place was, I only walked around for a bit, munched a granny smith apple with some cheese, emptied my trash bag, then continued south.