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Port Huron, Michigan

Waterfront Park Offers Great Ship Watching

by Jim Hebert,

September 1996

We took a lovely little trip up to Port Huron last Sunday afternoon.

It was only an hour's drive from Birmingham, although the traffic on Eastbound I-94 is restricted to one lane for most of the way north from Mt. Clemens.

Port Huron has redone the riverside park, with a new seawall. It starts south of the Blue Water Bridge at a park, and extends northward about a half mile, under the bridge and beyond.

At the southern end you'll find the old USCG Huron, a lightship that used to mark a shoal a few miles out in the lake. She's now on the hard and available for tours on Saturday and Sunday between 1-4:30. Be prompt; we arrived at 4:19 and they had closed shop for the day.

You can get a close-up look at freighters from just north of the bridge, as they fight the 8-knot-plus currents in the narrows. It was quite fun to see two downbound and one upbound laker pass in less than 30 minutes.

Upbound vessels reveal the effects of the strong current in the narrows. First, you'll notice their asymmetrical bow waves as the try to turn to the right, into the current. Once they get the nose into the stream, the current sends the back end of the ship whipping around. I've never seen one of these big ships move sideways so fast!

The walkway also takes you right under the new, under-construction, span of the second bridge. A sign says "scheduled for completion in July 1997."

One problem area: no public restrooms along the way. A couple Porta-Jons were spotted, but they were locked shut.

After watching the ship traffic, take a slow drive southbound on the shore road. There are some great old homes along the river, and St. Clair, especially, has some fine riverfront homes to gawk at.

Pull in at the River Crab restaurant for dinner. If you get there early, you can have a table right on the river and enjoy some fine dinning. Bring your wallet, as dinner will run about $40/person, unless you skip a few courses and don't have a drink. The walls are covered with marine artwork, many by local artist J. Clary, who has a gallery nearby (in the Riverside Plaza in St. Clair on M-29).

There's more nice scenery on the drive southward to Algonac. You might see some more freighters, although after our good luck at the bridge, we only saw one more ship the rest of the afternoon.

South of Algonac the view fades and you're back to the interstate. We put about 120 miles on the car, had a nice walk along the river, a good meal, saw some freighters close-up, and enjoyed being out in the fair weather. Not a bad way to spend a fall Sunday afternoon!

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Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998 by James W. Hebert. All rights reserved!
Last modified: July 21, 1998



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