On February 29th, 2016 Grandpa Shorter’s Gifts posted a video on their Facebook wall, and it went viral. 163K views to be exact. Understanding just a hint of the infatuation with such a structure, led us to conclude that this video would certainly be liked and possibly shared, but not to such an incredible extent. The video captured a 34-second scene of the tremendous waves crashing against the Breakwall at a magnitude of which seemed insurmountable to me, and apparently many others.
View on our Facebook.
Yes, this was the first time that I had posted something so intriguing about the Breakwall, but not our first “Breakwall post” ever. It seems that every time we mention or depict this extremely known structure, it is sure to receive a lot of attention. But, my question is why? Perhaps, I do not grasp the intrigue as much due to my Ohio roots, and it is captivating, don’t get me wrong. I am just simply fascinated as to the cause of such interest in locals and tourists alike!
#1- Is it “the jump”?
I know, I myself have heard the phrase, “You have to jump off the Breakwall!” at least a hundred times since moving here in the summer. And the idea still hasn’t lost it’s hint of insanity to me. I have walked the Breakwall numerous times at full-length, but none of those times have I ever felt the urge to just jump in. Granted, I never chose to stroll the Breakwall in high heat of the summer, nor do I like to swim very much, but, the thought still seemed a bit ludicrous to me… and illegal.
Though many tried to tell me that jumping off of the wall was not illegal, I had to find out for myself. And sure enough, they were right. It is not illegal to jump off the Breakwall, but it is certainly not advised due to unpredictable currents and nearby fishermen/boats. But, you will see shirts floating all around town sporting sayings like, “I survived the jump” and “I jumped off the Breakwall”. So, the activity is certainly a dangerous attraction of it’s own. In fact, in a survey conducted by Michigan Radio in 2015- You told us 70 things every Michigander should experience at least once – “Jumping off the Breakwall in Petoskey” shows up within the first 30 things! It is certainly not just a “toursity” thing either.
#2- Is it the historical context?
If it isn’t “jumping” that intrigues people to the wall, then maybe it’s the history behind it? The Breakwall that is presently in Petoskey, MI in fact, is not the same “Breakwater” that stood over 100 years ago. The very first Breakwater was built in 1899 after Congress had passed an act in 1895 authorizing the construction of breakwaters to protect the landing pier and off-loading visitors from the westerly winds.
(information and picture provided by: http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=202)
The breakwaters began as a metal post with a lamp house at its base that was placed fourteen feet from the outer end of the western breakwater, and later in 1903, the metal post was ordered to be enclosed by structural steel and cast-iron metal work. The actual construction of the thirty-four foot tall lighthouse didn’t begin until 1912, but when finished, it was a sight to see with the resemblance of an inverted funnel that consisted of a pyramidal base, a vertical mid-section, and an ornate lantern room.
However, during a severe storm in December 1924, the lighthouse was washed from the breakwater and destroyed. Reconstruction of the original lighthouse did not result. The solution constructed in 1930 was that of a temporary light placed on a skeletal-like steel tower painted red.
The temporary structure did not appear to hold up as long as anticipated and a 50-foot segment was partially swept away by a massive storm in November 2005 and then the segment was completely dismantled in March of 2006 due to another severe storm, creating a breach in the breakwaters. And more temporary repairs began…
In 2009, more than 80 years after the initial destruction to the breakwaters, the long-awaited and permanent repairs to Petoskey’s breakwater were made after the Army Corps of Engineers were granted funds for the project through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The new Petoskey Breakwall project totaled approximately $7 million and has insured continuance of a Harbor of Refuge, protection of vital City infrastructure improvements along its waterfront, and has allowed for continued protection of the City of Petoskey Marina and its patrons. Much appreciation is given to those of the Army Corps of Engineers and IMS and suppliers for such dedication to the project.
#3- Is it the scenic attributes?
If you Google- Pictures of Petoskey Breakwall, dozens and dozens of images flood the screen of those jumping off the Breakwall, strolling the path of the Breakwall, the Breakwall at sunset, waves crashing against the Breakwall, the Breakwall covered in ice, and etc. It certainly can be considered a tourist attraction for the area of Petoskey, MI. But, an attraction that seems to never lose touch with the locals as well.
Especially, when it comes to the weather I’ve found! The Breakwall’s interaction with the weather seems to draw attention of the masses. Whether the sun is just about to set on the horizon and expose a beautiful array of colors in the sky just beyond the Breakwall in the summer, or the high winds in the winter create such massive waves that they seem to engulf the Breakwall in its entirety- it is certainly a sight to see.
Unquestionably, there could be more reasons. Listed are ones that I have observed during my short time here.
Why are you drawn to the Petoskey Breakwall?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Leave your comments below.
Until I am Intrigued Yet Again,
Petoskey Through the Eyes of a Newbie