Many people have a bucket list of things they would like to see or do in their lifetime before they die. Having forecasted the weather at TV 7&4 for the past 12 years, I have literally done thousands of forecasts for Beaver Island in Northern Lake Michigan, but have never been there and always wanted to visit. So I took a trip to American's Emerald Isle.
My journey started in Charlevoix at Island Airways which has daily flights to the island. Our pilot is Bob Anderson and he gets to fly to Beaver Island a lot, like 10-15 times each day five days a week. I was just one of 28,000 people that Island Airways flies to Beaver Island in a year. In Bob's expert hands, our flight was a smooth one with some ice hanging on out over Lake Michigan. After a 15 minute flight, we touched down in the middle of Lake Michigan on its largest island.
Steve West with the Beaver Island Chamber of Commerce met me and gave me the grand tour. We started at st. James which is the main town on the island and also where the ferry from Charlevoix arrives. I was surprised to find that Central Michigan University runs a Great Lakes Biological Station on the island. I asked Dr. Don Uzarski why CMU chose Beaver Island and he said it's the location. They can take a research vessel and quickly reach 350 feet of water.
Once back on dry land, Steve took me to the legendary Shamrock Restaurant and Pub. In business since 1935, the Shamrock is where locals and visitors alike go to share stories and maybe as I did, dig into a freshly caught whitefish sandwich.
Following lunch, I went down the street to the Beaver Island Historical Society to get a look at the rich history of the Great Lakes most remote inhabited island. Beaver Island is 13 miles long and up to six miles wide. Over 650 people make their home on the island year round and in the summer, thousands of people come daily to visit. There is a paved road, a private and public airport, a grocery store, gas station, shops, and restaurants.
Our final stop was to the public airport where a brand new terminal is being built. The public airport sees over 9,000 or more flights in a given year averaging out to around 25 each day so an upgraded terminal building will be a welcomed upgrade.
My day ended with a return flight back to Charlevoix. Although only 18 miles from the mainland of Emmet County and 32 miles from Charlevoix, Beaver Island is as unique and special of a place as any in northern Michigan.