We all know that the shoreline around the Old Mission Peninsula has really taken a beating the past few years. The water levels have gotten higher and higher, and the torrential downpours in the past few weeks only added to the conundrum.
It’s one thing to see the erosion from the road or while standing on the shoreline, but once you get into a boat, it offers yet another perspective of just how crazy high the water is right now.
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I dragged my little kayak into the water the other day and took a few pictures of the shoreline along East Bay, then hunted through my photo archives for pictures of the same spots.
This photo is of our little beach on East Bay, comparing May 2016 to June 2020, a time span of only four years.
This photo shows that same stretch between October 2015 and June 2020. You can see there was quite a bit of beach there even just a year prior to the above photo. In the October 2015 photo below, you can see the big rock on the right of the photo. The green chair is buried in sand. In the photo on the right, taken this week, that same rock is mostly covered with water.
This photo is of Kroupa’s beach a little south of us, comparing October 2016 to June 2020. All of those rocks are now underwater, and you can see that we’re losing a lot of trees into the water along there.
This photo compares June 1995 to June 2020, a span of 25 years. That’s Tim and me, and I’m holding our son Will, who was just eight months old at the time. The water has gone up and down a lot during this 25-year time span, but I’ve never seen it as high as it is right now. In the lower left corner of the 1995 photo, you can see the big rock that’s now mostly under water in the right-hand photo taken this week.
Elsewhere on the Old Mission Peninsula, here are two photos of Haserot Beach, one in July 2017 and the other in June 2020. My “benchmark,” so to speak, is Don Sargent’s memorial bench that you can see in both photos next to the parking lot. There’s considerably less sand in front of it in June 2020, and there have been times over the past year where the water has lapped up against the bench.
Here’s Don Sargent’s memorial bench in October 2019.
Here are two photos of the beach in front of Mission Point Lighthouse. Most of us are familiar with the wildly-varying water levels there over the past decade. The first photo was taken in December 2010. At the time, there was a little peninsula that jetted out from the lighthouse into West Bay a good quarter mile or so, and people had forged a trail out there. I took this photo on that trail looking back towards the Lighthouse.
The second photo was taken in May 2020. If you look close, you can see someone on the swing set in the far distance, basically swinging out over the water at this point. The Lighthouse is to the right of the photo. These two photos span ten years.
And here is the trail that went out on that little peninsula into West Bay in front of Mission Point Lighthouse in 2010.
It’s also been interesting to watch the evolution of Ray Longuski’s memorial bench in front of Mission Point Lighthouse. Between December 2019 and May 2020, it became more and more waterlogged until some kind soul removed it and set it in front of the lighthouse.
And if we go back to 1963, you can see that the water was super low at that time. This is a photo of three-year-old me and a water spout in Old Mission, taken on the shoreline in front of our house about a mile south of Haserot Beach. The water spout is actually out in Lake Michigan beyond the Peninsula, but Haserot Beach is just to the left of it in the photo.
You can see the tractor tire tracks around me, where my dad was digging a channel for that time when the water levels would drop once again – which, of course, they did. You can see just a bit of our little rowboat behind me.
A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers like the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, and magazines like Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So of course, I started my own newspaper. Because the Gazette is mainly reader-supported, I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks my way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the Old Mission Peninsula. Check out the donation page here. Thank you so much for your support. -jb