The other day we posted the Legend of the Sleeping Bear. After thinking about it, I wondered if folks knew that “the Bear” was also an actual formation atop a dune about a mile north of the Pierce Stocking Overlook. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore says that the formation pictured above known as “the Bear”…
…hardly looks like a bear now, for it has been changing rapidly in recent years. At the turn of the century, it was a round knob completely covered with trees and shrubs. You can still see some of the thick vegetation that gave it a dark shaggy appearance.
…For a long time, the sleeping Bear Dune stood at about 234 feet high with a dense plant cover. However, trough most of the twentieth century, erosion has prevailed. By 1961, the dune was only 132 feet high, and by 1980, it was down to 103 feet. The process is a continuing one. The major cause of the dune’s erosion was wave action wearing away the base of the plateau on which the dune rests. As the west side of the dune loses its support, it cascades down the hill. The wind, too, is a major agent of erosion, removing sand and destroying the dune’s plant cover.
The photo above was taken by Leelanau photographer Fred Dickinson. You can see a closer view right here and definitely check out the Dickinson Photo Gallery to view & purchase great photography of the dunes and other Leelanau spots by Fred and his daughter Grace. Over on Michigan in Pictures there’s a photo of Fishtown in 1940 that explains Dickinson’s hand coloration technique. You can see a couple more photos of the Bear from MSU.