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Meltdown at Pier Cove Beach: A Photo Essay History

Kathi writes about fossils and other earthly subjects, plus the natural history of Michigan, poetry, and more.

March Meltdown at Pier Cove Beach Southwest Michigan

March Meltdown at Pier Cove Beach Southwest Michigan

Lately, I've been torn between two passions; writing and photography! But I have resolved my dilemma by combining the two. The web community "HubPages.com" offers the perfect format in order for me to fulfill that vision. So after snapping quite a few photos of a quaint Lake Michigan beach only five minutes from my Southwestern Michigan home, I present to you this photo essay. It includes a brief history of the area as well as a recent development caused by an unusual March snow melt featuring Lake Michigan.

1896 A long forgotten pier in Southwestern Michigan at Pier Cove

1896 A long forgotten pier in Southwestern Michigan at Pier Cove

History of a Quaint Michigan Beach Community called Pier Cove

The Southwestern Lake Michigan shoreline forms a long steep curve inland at the point of Pier Cove where a small creek empties into the big lake. In the early 1800’s, Pier Cove's ravines and plateaus bordering the creek flourished with white pine, beech, hemlock and maple trees. By the 1840’s, lumber was in great demand prompting the construction of a steam sawmill and wood shop down stream. The timber there helped support the build-up of Chicago and Milwaukee. Adding to the lumber demands before the advent of big coal markets, the hardwoods were also used to provide cord woods as the major power source in steam driven vessels navigating on Lake Michigan. The wood shop was later made into a grist mill for grinding both flour and feed which was powered by the small creek. A secondary product in demand was tanbark derived from the area's hemlock trees used to yield leather. Accordingly, in the 1850’s a tanning mill was also built along the creek turning out fancy leather works.

Two piers were constructed at opposite sides of the creek and the bustling small community hosted a major distribution point! Ships departed daily until the the late 1860’s when the lumber supply began to dwindle from heavy harvesting, including from the demands to rebuild Chicago after the devastating fire of 1871. Soon, competition from a new railroad line through the nearby village of Fennville surpassed the need for the waterway port. Pier Cove’s prosperity phased out; however, in the 1880's, peaches and other fruit became a major shipping commodity and the site revived the village’s economy! In 1892, 8000 baskets of peaches were shipped in one day. Tragically, in 1899 a freeze killed much of the local harvest and shipping was reduced to passenger traffic. By 1919, both piers were destroyed from ice and storms, never to be restored again.

O.C. Simonds, the last owner of the mill and large plot of the creek valley, planted many unusual plants and the area became quite well known by naturalists for its many varieties of trillium. The land currently has been declared a nature and wildlife sanctuary!

Pier Cove Forest Sanctuary Today With Fog Rolling In Off Lake Michigan

Pier Cove Forest Sanctuary Today With Fog Rolling In Off Lake Michigan

A Tale of the First Settler

In the early 1800’s, before the area was settled by European Americans, Pottawatomie Native Americans were the main people living off the land. At that point in time, fur trading practices had long been established as the local Pottawatomie had always been very friendly and accommodating toward the tradesmen. But the very first European's to take root and settle down in the area were the Crawford's who witnessed a terrain thick with white pines as far as the eye could see.

One humorous interesting story documented about the new settlers describes how the family toiled to cut down the trees and grub out the land in order to plant their corn, wheat and vegetables. But sometimes they got lost in the forest; even their cow got lost trying to find its way home when it was time to be milked and fed. One particular occasion, a band of Pottawatomie nearby allowed the Crawford's to camp out in their village while they looked for their lost cow! They were fed by the friendly tribe and a kind native american woman even sewed them each a pair of moccasins.

Lake Michigan Ice Shelf in the beginning stages of a melt down; view from Pier Cove's beach bluff

Lake Michigan Ice Shelf in the beginning stages of a melt down; view from Pier Cove's beach bluff

The Meltdown

Amazingly, the photo above was taken only a few days before the photo below at Lake Michigan's Pier Cove Beach demonstrating the rapid meltdown caused by 60 degree Fahrenheit temps. The last surviving snow mound had once reached over 25 feet high, only it was mostly colored white with a top layer of fresh snow and ice. It was part of the solid ice sheet called the ice shelf which dominates over Lake Michigan's shorelines during winter months. The ice shelf pretty much obliterates any recollection of the fresh blue waters when viewing it from the beach! Obviously, from looking at the photo below, we can see the last surviving snow mound was colored brown due to layers of frozen sand suddenly exposed due to the unusual early March melt down. By the following day, whatever remained of the ice shelf was practically demolished as a result of the continuing warm spell multiplied by strong winds and waves.

What Wonders Lie On The Beach

Photographs of rocks often go unappreciated so I've made sure to include a few in this photo review. For some reason, rocks, shells and fossils are much more accessible for discovery at Pier Cove compared to other beaches in the area, such as the popular tourist site of Oval Beach! It's a phenomenon seen especially in the spring when rivers of melting snow rush by, erasing the sand off the many hidden treasures.

A Closer View Of Pier Cove Creek

The crystal clear rushing water is a result of melting snow off the steep ravines bordering the creek through Pier Cove Forest Sanctuary. The creek, which no longer supports transportation of the former industries, is taken over by the ensuing forest.


The black and white photo below offers an idea of the erosion along the north side of the creek cliff. It's estimated to be about a 25 foot drop. Just below the mangled roots there is a fallen tree trunk that's suspended across to the opposite bank of the creek. The base of the trunk can just barley be seen in the right-hand bottom corner of the photo. The close-up driftwood photos below entitled "Orange Fungus" and "Peek-a-Boo" were captured from that single large piece. Also, a large section of the tree's root system dislodged and drifted to the opposite side of the creek. I've captured a few close-ups from that large chunk titled "Driftwood Maze" and "A Bug's Cave" as well!

All About Michigan Sunsets

I've been lucky with sunsets. One day while I was literally standing in the shallows of the creek admiring smooth dried rocks lying on the wet sand, two deer came strolling by. One stopped for just a second before she saw me and ran off. But her fawn didn't. I had just enough time to adjust my camera and push the shutter button at the last second. I was in such a hurry and didn't know if I held the camera steady enough to get a clear shot. I'm so pleased it turned out to be a perfect silhouette with a backdrop of glimmering water and pink colored sky! I believe it's a sign for good things to come and nature's spirit casting her light on us!

Lucky shot at Pier Cove Beach

Lucky shot at Pier Cove Beach

Pier Cove Beach Sunset on Lake Michigan

Pier Cove Beach Sunset on Lake Michigan

Under the Setting Sun

Sun no longer high in the sky

Past midday on a downward slide

Under the golden radiance

Souls rush to catch a glimpse

And arrest the passing moments

Of the Sun’s intensifying tints

Within body’s yearning to unwind

The splendor inspires soul’s confined

To merge with the miraculous light

Encompassing a love unmatched in this temporary life

Red Cloud Vortex at Pier Cove Beach on Lake Michigan

Red Cloud Vortex at Pier Cove Beach on Lake Michigan

© 2011 Kathi Mirto


Dan seiler on May 22, 2020:

I grew up summers at Pier Cove MI. 30 plus summers. I was married in 1993 in the Simmons nature reserve. This article and pictures are beautiful. Thank you for posting this. Dan

Kim Herrick on October 29, 2017:

Nice job, its where I was brought up, I spent many an hour wading in that creek, it still brings solace to my spirit!

Marilyn from Nevada on June 26, 2015:

Wow, your photos are very nice and provide a lot of visual information about the area, and the effects of weather (snow, and ice in particular). Very well done! I really enjoyed reading about the history of this beach.

Busara from New Delhi - India on June 23, 2015:

Great hub.. :)

Akriti Mattu from Shimla, India on June 18, 2015:

Awesomeeeeeeeee..voted up

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on June 18, 2015:

Amazing! Great info, great photos. I'd like to see the poem at the beginning.

Julie K Henderson on June 18, 2015:

The sunset picture is sublime. I also like the picture of the septarium red stones. Voted up.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on June 18, 2015:

Kathy, the poem was beautiful as this hub and the photos with it. Just gorgeous. Voted up and away!

poetryman6969 on June 18, 2015:

The photos of the melting snow by the lake remind me of photos of salt flats and salt deserts.

Combined with the water and rock photos you have captured a lot of beauty here. Voted up.

trueblvr on December 11, 2013:

What an amazing work you have done here. This one little hub is so full of different beauty no matter where you turn. Thank you for sharing

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on January 16, 2013:

Hi Don, Great to meet you! I'll be over to read some of yours as well! Kathi :O)

Don Bobbitt from Ruskin Florida on January 15, 2013:

Wow1 A great Writer with a powerful eye for a picture.

I don't know why I haven't seen your stuff before. I will be reading more.


DeltaDawn on February 24, 2012:

Thank you for your photos and sharing of great poetry. I now live in Tennessee, but came from the shores of Lake Michigan, which I miss more than the loved ones I've left behind.. at least I can call them. My heart melted with the sunsets... and your poem said it all. When I do head home, I make a mad dash for my favorite beach trying to catch the sunset before I commit to all of my loved ones. I actually came across your hub looking for info on the Petoskey stone, which I am doing a presentation on in college.. lol I definitely got sidetracked and enjoyed each read and photo!! Keep up the good work

Manuel Porras from Germany, Colombia, USA, Panama, Mexico, Spain on July 05, 2011:

these pictures are very nice but they show a horrible reality of our planet

Martin johnson on July 04, 2011:

Wonderful and really interesting history lesson....not to mention the images are superb.

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on June 10, 2011:

Hello Dear Colin, thanks for all the help, I really appreciate it. I think the reason my score hasn't taken a huge dip is cause of all the newbies you're sending my way! It's fun to meet them all! Wish I had more time...I'm thinking of you right now at 10:13 am, same day!

epigramman on June 10, 2011:

Hi Kathi - still sending the entire human race your way - lol - hope everything is well with you - I am thinking of you right now with good thoughts and with warm wishes .....9:50 am Friday June 10

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on June 10, 2011:

lol, I know what you mean...thank you kindly for the great compliment Victor! I hope perhaps you're by blue waters today!

Victor Mavedzenge from Oakland, California on June 09, 2011:

These are really such beautiful photographs. I could sit by that deep blue water all day!

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on May 23, 2011:

Hello B., I think you might have been on vacation when I submitted this, anyway, I surely do appreciate your wonderful support! I'ts fun to find heart shaped stones, they seem to show up especially along the beaches! Take care

b. Malin on May 23, 2011:

What a Treat Fossillady, how did I miss this Hub? Your Pictures are Gorgeous, you are so Talented...I also Loved the Poem and that line...In this temporary life. Also enjoyed the History of Michigan and I too have a "Heart Shaped Stone" that I found on the Beach here on the Jersey Shore.

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on April 30, 2011:

Thank you so much Horseback, I really appreciate you kind comment!

ahorseback on April 29, 2011:

Such an amazing photo collection , so beautifuly put together. You're amazing.....;-]

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on April 23, 2011:

Hello Ann, good to hear form you on the hub! I was just going through your beautiful photos on FAA today and saw your photo of the St Joe Pier. Pier Cove is about a half hour North of SJ where I grew up and most of my family is still living there! Thank you for your generous compliments! That means a lot to me as I really admire your photography. You are a dear person to drive from Detroit to visit your friend in need! I look forward to more of your photography on FAA! Have a lovely Easter, Kathi

Ann Horn on April 23, 2011:

Kathi, your photos of this lovely beach are wonderful. Love the thoroughness with which you are capturing its character... and your narrative adds so much. Often and on for almost a year and a half I have been visiting a friend who is recovering from a catastrophic illness, most recently in Saint Joseph, where he is undergoing rehabilitation. Since I am driving from the Detroit area, I usually stay overnight and spend time exploring the area, in addition to visiting. A Michigander all of my life, I love the Great Lakes.

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on April 23, 2011:

You're welcome Micky Dee Dearest! I hope your Easter is fill with love and joy with family and friends!

Micky Dee on April 23, 2011:

Amazingly awesomely beautiful. Incredible! Thank you dear Fossillady.

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on April 15, 2011:

Thank you for you generous comments Jackie. It means a lot to me. I hope you have a wonderful day! Kathi

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on April 15, 2011:

I have the flowers of every kind and most of the year here where I live but seeing this shows there is so much beauty in so many things. You have done a great job. I am still waiting for that one something special I came upon before I ever heard of a digital camera, surely just once more although that was maybe once in a lifetime. I love the water over the brown stones best in yours although they all are fabulous.

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on April 15, 2011:

Aah, thank you sweet lady! It's a special treat having you stop by and leaving me a great compliment! I hope you have a great day! Love, Kathi

Debby Bruck on April 14, 2011:

Dear FossilLady ~ Thank you for sharing these incredible photographs. This will be a special treat on my new hubpages. Just for you. Love, Debby

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on April 14, 2011:

You seem to have an uncanny ability to know when I need to hear that most! Love ya, Kathi

epigramman on April 14, 2011:

.....always love coming back here - I am so proud of you Kathi - this is your legacy as an artist!

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on April 13, 2011:

Thank you Susie!

SUSIE DUZY from Delray Beach, Florida on April 13, 2011:

Fabulous pictures. Thanks for sharing.

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on April 10, 2011:

There you go again, filling my heart with inspiration. For years I put my photography aspirations on hold, life sometimes has other ideas in mind for us. After picking it back up I am passionate about it again! Hubbers like yourself have been encouraging enough that I have displayed my work on Redbubble.com.

If you're halfway interested in purchasing one of my pieces there's a link below that will lead you to my page! I hope your day is filled with joy, thank you for your encouragement! Kathi

Mohan Kumar from UK on April 10, 2011:

Kathi- once again you paint with your camera - a virtuoso performance! I simply love the meltdown at Pier cove- every shot oozes artistry and is a visual treat. Makes me want to be there, capturing it all with my eye but you've done it all for us. You could blow them up and sell them as prints- many people (including me) would love to have them adorning there walls. What a talent!

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on April 06, 2011:

That is the greatest compliment one could offer me about my photos, that is the desire to have them on the walls of your home! Wow...I'm deeply honored!

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on April 06, 2011:

Kathi - Your photos would certainly bring a greater sense of peace and beauty framed on the walls of my home. Your art says so much about you. I love to bring myself to these healing pieces you so magically captured. Each one touches my heart and soul. . . Audrey

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on March 31, 2011:

Wow, great comment Nell...I'm thrilled you like the photos! The deer shot was pure luck...I was at the creek trying to capture another shot and two of them came strolling by...one got away from me before I could capture him, but I got Lucky with the other...Yahoo...Good to see you again!

Nell Rose from England on March 31, 2011:

Hi, I don't know what to say! Wow wow wow! how on earth did you manage to take such magnificent photos? each and every one was outstanding! I believe if you put any one of these in a competition they would win, but the deer was just out of this world, I am going to bookmark this and just keep coming back to look, amazing!

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on March 31, 2011:

Healing Touch, you have made my day with such a lovely comment...I will take your advise and keep clicking away... have a great day!!!

Laura Arne from Minnetonka, MN on March 30, 2011:


You have a gift that needs to be shared. Keep on taking those amazing shots. You have me breathless. The beauty is stunning. I love the poem as well. You have it all.............

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on March 27, 2011:

Hi Epi, you can visit any time you like...keep the inspiration coming...haven't seen anything coming through lately of Doug's on the bubble

Hi Doug, great compliments...thank you...You said it, lately it has been my thing and I continue to rock on discovering more stony delights and fossils too

Doug Turner Jr. on March 26, 2011:

A temporary life indeed. Let's enjoy the beaches while we can. Great pics and background info. I really dig your amalgamation of photography and words. Sounds like it's your thing. Rock on.

epigramman on March 26, 2011:

....well I raved about this particular hub to 'quiet' Doug - and I am still (madly) raving about it - myself - which just goes to show that great art will always stand the test of time - and you are a writer/photographer for all time!!!!!

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on March 24, 2011:

Thank you kind lady, so glad you enjoyed it!!Smiles

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 23, 2011:

What artistic and beautiful photos! You have excellent observation skills and are a very talented photographer. Thank you so much for sharing your art.

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on March 23, 2011:

KM,(my initials too..hee) It really is a nice escape as you put it Katie, thank you for your welcoming feedback!

Gigi, hi, nice to meet you, thank you for great compliment!

Pras,Wow, thank you so much!!! I'm glad you resolved the tax issue...yeah!!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on March 23, 2011:

Unbelievable. This was so amazing and beautiful. Wow... I can't say anything and I can't blink my eyes for a while to see all miracles here. Thanks, my friend. You always impressed me much through your pictures. RATED UP!

Kathi, I just send you a message through Facebook related with TAX. Finally I got the answer. Thank you very much for always supporting me. God will repay your kindness....amen.

Love and peace, prasetio

Gigi Thibodeau on March 22, 2011:

Absolutely beautiful photos!

Katie McMurray from Ohio on March 22, 2011:

These are so magical, how you catch the light, reflections and pure beauty of nature and all it's glory. WOW it's more beautiful than if I were looking at it live. You're very gifted. I love your photo collection and shot at Pier Cove Beach, Thanks for the escape. :) Katie

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on March 22, 2011:

Thank you Colin, I am particularly proud of this one and you have reinforced my sense of accomplishment! I'm greatly appreciative!

I notice your "Lake of Erie" area often has the same weather conditions...we're gearing up for a winter comeback too!

Hope you have a wonderful day!! Peace and Love

epigramman on March 22, 2011:

I am so very proud of you Kathi - you are building quite an impressive following of lucky and grateful fans - and I can see why - no one else can take photography to this artful level and be able to enhance it at the same time with evocative words and poetry.

Well my lake of 'Erie' is back - the ice and snow has all gone way for another season but we are due for some winter weather just after midnight - so as Yogi Berra once said - 'It ain't over 'til it's over!'

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on March 22, 2011:

Hello Tina, Thank you for taking the time to leave a nice compliment!!

Hi Kath, Thank you sweet lady, that is so nice of you to say and I feel all warm and fuzzy inside! I hope you're doing well!! Smiles

Kathy from California on March 21, 2011:

Absolutely beautiful - Wow I think you are a very talented writer and photographer, the pictures are amazing, the texture, depth, clarity.....Very nice hub!

Tina Julich from Pink on March 21, 2011:

Beautiful photos.

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on March 21, 2011:

AA, you're a poet with an open soul! Take care friend

Wow, thank you Ruby, As a matter of fact I have done that with the septariums, we love to collect them!!Smiles

Hi B., I could never give up my writing, You offered good advise to put the two together! I'm trying! Bless you

b. Malin on March 21, 2011:

Oh Fossillady, how very Beautiful your Photos are, and your poetry as well, please don't give up your writings...You can't have one without the other! Thanks my talented friend for sharing your camera eye with us!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on March 21, 2011:

This is very beautiful Kathi. I would love to have some of the septarium red stones to put around my flower garden. Your exquisite skill in photography is amazing. Thank you much for showing us the beauty around the lakes.


Augustine A Zavala from Texas on March 21, 2011:

Kathi, beautiful images and poem. I can feel the wisp of cold off the frost, and hear the waves lapping the shore. Thanks again for sharing.

Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on March 21, 2011:

Hi You, Thank you for stopping by and leaving a great compliment, Sunset Smiles Upon You

Epi, my boyfriend...tee hee, thank you for the congrats, yahoooo, and as always your generous comments !!

Acer, hey babe, you betcha, the woods, lake and especially the creek were the foundations to the community's livilhood. There are no longer community earmarks in the vicinity i.e. post office, stores...only homes and mostly vacation homes of wealthy Chicagoans

Hello HighVW... nice to meet you, preciate you stopping by and leaving a kind compliment!!

William Benner from Savannah GA. on March 21, 2011:

Thank you for telling us about the history of this area, great pictures!

Mentalist acer from A Voice in your Mind! on March 21, 2011:

The creek may probably have played an important part in the founding of Pier Cove.;)

epigramman on March 21, 2011:

...well first of all Lady Kathi - congratulations on receiving 100 followers - and yes you are truly an 'artist' with a camera - wait 'till 'quiet' Doug sees this one. I will definitely be back again to your art galleries of world class photography and poetry ....

youmeget on March 21, 2011:

What a talent! Photographer and a poet! I love all the pictures they are so beautiful.

Beautiful hub.


Kathi Mirto (author) from Fennville on March 20, 2011:

Will, Kalyko, Cat and Ryan, Thank you all for stopping by and leaving great comments. I really appreciate it!

ryancarter from Falkville, Alabama on March 20, 2011:

Awesome Hub! You are a truly gifted photographer, keep up the good work!

Catherine Tally from Los Angeles on March 20, 2011:

Great shots, Kathi! What kind of camera did you use?

Kalyko on March 20, 2011:

Fabulous photos...thanks for posting.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on March 20, 2011:

Beautiful stuff! You're an artist with a camera.

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