Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, including massive coastal sand dunes on the Lake Michigan shore and North and South Manitou Islands, is established.
An old Chippewa Indian legend says that the dunes were created when a mother bear and her two cubs fled a forest fire in Wisconsin by swimming across Lake Michigan. The mother bear arrived first and climbed up on a bluff to wait for her cubs. Sadly, the exhausted cubs drowned, and when the mourning mother died, the Great Spirit Manitou marked her resting place with a single forested dune called Sleeping Bear. Her two cubs are the Manitou Islands.
Today, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore encompasses a thirty-five mile stretch of Lake Michigan’s eastern coastline, as well as North and South Manitou Islands. The park was established primarily for its outstanding natural features, including forests, beaches, dune formations, and ancient glacial phenomena. In 2002, nearly 1.2 millions people visited the park, which has an annual bugdet of around 3.3 million dollars.
For more information about the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, see Sleeping Bear: Yesterday and Today, Including Ghost Towns, Lighthouses and Shipwrecks of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore by George Weeks.
Michigan Historical Calendar courtesy of the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University.
Michigan History, September/October 2011.
Sleeping Bear Dunes official website.