Michigan entered the nuclear age when its first nuclear power plant, the Consumers Power Plant at Big Rock Point near Charlevoix, began operations on this day in 1962.
State Historical Marker: Consumers Power Company (later Consumers Energy) opened the Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant just west of here in 1962. It was the world’s first high- power density boiling water reactor, and the fifth commercial nuclear power plant in the U.S. The plant began as a research and development facility, with the first goal being to prove that nuclear power was economical. In addition to generating electricity, the reactor produced cobalt 60 that was used to treat an estimated 400,000 cancer patients. In 1991 the American Nuclear Society named the plant a Nuclear Historic Landmark. When it closed in 1997, Big Rock was the longest running nuclear plant in the U.S. Consumers Energy later restored the site to a natural area.
On the reverse site:
Big Rock Point is named for a large boulder used as a landmark by Native Americans. At least as early as the mid-nineteenth century Odawa (Ottawa) Indians used Big Rock, which they called Kitcheossening, as a gathering place each spring. The Odawa summered at Waganaksing (the area between Harbor Springs and Cross Village), but dispersed into smaller groups and traveled during the winter. Each spring they returned to Big Rock, their canoes loaded with sugar, furs, deer skins, prepared venison, bear’s oil, and bear meat prepared in oil, deer tallow, and sometimes a lot of honey. From there they returned to Waganaksing by crossing the bay in wiigwaas jiimaan (birch bark canoes). In 1999 elders and youth from the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians recreated the crossing.
Michigan History, September/October 2018.