Author Michael Schumacher, in order to research his book on the loss of the Fitzgerald was allowed to photocopy all 3,000 pages of testimony and documentation produced by the board. Years after publishing his book "The Mighty Fitz" Schumacher was drawn back to the mountain of documents and realized there was a lot of information contained in those 3,000 pages that never made it into his book. He set out to edit the wealth of information contained in the documents and final reports of the Coast Guard's Marine Board of Investigation and the National Transportation Safety Board and produce a documentary history of the sinking that would serve as a companion to "The Mighty Fitz. " It is not necessary to read Schumacher's earlier book on the Fitzgerald before diving into this one. The documents and testimony in the hearings come from naval architects, former crewmen of the Fitzgerald, search and rescue personnel, ship inspectors, loading experts, climatologists, scientists, and seamen who were on the SS Anderson which was some 10 miles behind the Fitzgerald when it simply disappeared from Anderson's radar. Schumacher has arranged the testimony so that it reads like a well organized and engrossing narrative and culminates with the report of the two boards and a Lake Carriers' Association Letter of Dissent.
Each attraction features a succinct description, a photograph, directions for getting there, cost if any, and tips on how to best enjoy your visit. This book belongs in the glove compartment of anyone planning a trip to the U.P.
Secret Upper Peninsula: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure by Kath Usitalo. Reedy Press, 2019, $20.95 pb.
Unlike a typical travel guide, a two- to four-page essay is devoted to each site. The author's love for the U.P. is obvious on every page. Whether a museum, a state park, or a 17,000-acre wilderness area Classen's descriptions are vibrant, enticing, and thorough. Color photographs, most of which were taken by the author, complement the essays.
The book contains almost as many surprises as the "Secret Upper Peninsula." The author credits the Au Train River as the best kayaking river in the U.P. In an essay on a state forest campground located on Lake Michigan near Naubinway he not only fully describes the little-used campground and the beautiful beach but also mentions that just offshore is the Lake Michigan Water Trail which I Googled because I had never heard of it. It seems the trail is still under development in the four states surrounding Lake Michigan and when completed it will be the longest freshwater water trail in the world.
I was particularly taken with the book's scenic descriptions, history, and activities to be found at the 17,000-acre McCormick Wilderness Tract, the three square miles of the little-used Donnelley Wilderness Tract located in the foothills of the Huron Mtns, and the Grand Canyon of the U.P. the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness. It is another book that belongs in the car of any Troll (those of us living below the Mackinac Bridge) vacationing in the U.P. Better yet the book should be read by anyone planning a trip to the Upper Peninsula. It is sure to influence their itinerary.
Even if you are never going to the U.P. it is still well worth reading just to gain an appreciation of what this great state and the Upper Peninsula have to offer its citizens in the way of outdoor adventures and unique natural wonders. This sparkling collection of essays makes for great reading. There is no arguing with the author's claim that the essays and the research that went into them were a"labor of love."
Points North: Discover Hidden Campgrounds, Natural Wonders, and Waterways of the Upper Peninsula by Mikel B. Classen. Modern History Press, 2020, $27.95 pb.
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