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Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 6, page 237, August 4, 1883 [newspaper clipping]

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Identifier: DX04221891

Title: Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 6, page 237, August 4, 1883 [newspaper clipping]




MACKINAC ISLAND, Aug. 4, ’83.}

As a piece of great Nature’s work, this island is fine. Long years ago the mills of God ground it slowly but surely down in a glacial epoch of polar cold, and yet in this its only exact and scientific importance it has been scarcely noticed at all by its eulogists. Hundreds of thousands of people have visited Sugar Loaf Rock, a cone-like pyramid of solid stone rising from a broad base to a peak perhaps ninety feet above the little clearing in which it stands, and have looked in blank wonderment upon it, without having any clearer conception of its cause than had the first savage who saw it there perhaps thousands of years ago. One hears bright remarks about it, of course, such as, “Oh, my, isn’t it grand!” “Just lovely!” “Splendid!” “Haow’d it git thar, d’ye s’pose?” and so on, and finally it is settled that it was made so in creation’s dawn, by the hand of God.

In geology it belongs to the upper Helderberg group, which once lay to the depth of a hundred feet all over the island, and which yet remains in the backbone ridge behind the present fort, and on the summit of which Fort George (now Holmes) was built, and also in the Sugar Loaf. The island has been ground down and polished and set like a gem on as lovely a bosom as ever was bared to the sun. Fair and fine as its summers are in modern times, the age has been when all this romantic land lay buried and bound beneath vast fields of ice that pushed and slid and moved over it, tearing and grinding and wearing its solid rocky structure away.

But if people are dumb as to the Sugar Loaf, they are noisy with story and legend of every bold cliff and cave and fallen rock around the island shores. Yet the literature and legend are as often absurd as pretty. Such, for instance, is that of Robinson’s Folly. The great overhanging cliff at the southeastern point of the island is the scene of the folly, but Robinson spends his summers now at the lower end of the island. The story goes that on summer evenings Robinson (who was commandant of the post) was accustomed to stroll upon the bluff. One evening he saw a very beautiful girl pass him and walk over the precipice. Next evening he walked again, of course,—anybody would have done so,—and again he saw the beautiful girl, and again she disappeared so suddenly that the excited soldier could not tell what became of her.

Then he watched for her coming, and spoke and begged that she would allow him to address her. She swiftly passed by him, and, pausing on the very brink of the precipice, turned and waved her arm as a warning for him to approach no nearer. But, maddened by fear that he was about to lose the lovely vision, he rushed forward to grasp her, and—the next day his body was found broken and torn upon the rocks beneath, but there was no beautiful maiden there. This was a marvellous story, and, told in the ancient days of this New World, it was readily accepted by the nation whose servant he was, and his loss was very properly accounted for. Had it been said that Robinson had a delirium, in consequence of too much brandy, that o’er-truthful tale would have been forgotten in six months. There is nothing like romance in which to embalm the dead. Honest men and women die at their posts of duty, doing it thoroughly to the end, and the world rolls on, unconscious that they ever lived. But weave a glamour of romance about the veriest knave, and the same world will remember him for ages. The only curiosity about the island which bears a suggestion of artistic truthfulness is the great high chimney rock on the western bluff, called Lover’s Leap, at the base of which is a ragged, rough and dismal hole, known as the Devil’s Kitchen. In modern days lovers’ plunges into the lake of matrimony. . . .[please contact the Archives for the full article]

Rights: NoC-US


Dates: 1883-08-04

Type(s): Clipping, Newspaper

Maker/Creator: Gunn, Thomas Butler, 1826-1903

Subjects: Great Lakes (North America)
Mackinac Island (Mich.)
Indians of North America


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