Rangers at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) are offering a Saturday Special program on November 5. Join a ranger at the Sleeping Bear Point Trailhead at 12:00 p.m., Saturday, November 5, for a 45-minute guided hike across the dunes and to the beach at Sleeping Bear Point. Explore the interwoven history surrounding the local timber and fruit industries, the U.S. Life-Saving Service, lighthouses, and shipwrecks. Dress for the weather and plan to walk about one mile on soft sand trails and beach. The program will showcase the unique impact that the Manitou Passage has played in the evolution of both maritime and cultural history within the boundaries of the National Lakeshore.
The Manitou Passage was a critical shipping route for hundreds of ships a day at the turn of the 20th century. Plenty of small towns and docks were readily available to restock the cordwood used as fuel for their steam boilers. Unfortunately, it was also one of the most dangerous maritime passages in all of Lake Michigan; the lakebed is strewn with the remains of almost 70 known shipwrecks.