• Indianhead Point stands tall along the Pictured Rocks. Photo copyright Craig Blacklock

    Pictured Rocks

    National Lakeshore Michigan

Miners Castle Turret Collapses

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Date: April 14, 2006
Contact: Larry Hach, 906-387-2607

Miners Castle before and after a rockfall on April 13, 2006.
Miners Castle before and after April 13, 2006, rockfall
NPS photos
On Thursday morning, April 13, 2006, the northeast turret of Miners Castle collapsed. One turret remains on Miners Castle, the best-known feature of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The collapse was reported via cell phone by fisherman in the area, according to chief ranger Larry Hach.

Most of the rock fell north and into Lake Superior, and there were no injuries. The lower overlook platform near Miners Castle appears to be unaffected.

While the rockfall at Miners Castle on April 13 was startling, such events are not rare along the Pictured Rocks escarpment. At least five major falls have occurred over the past dozen years: 1) two different portions of Grand Portal Point, 2) the eastern side of Indian Head just east of Grand Portal Point, 3) Miners Falls just below the (now modified) viewing platform, and 4) beneath the lip of Munising Falls (along the former trail that went behind the cascade).

All the rockfalls involved the same rock unit, the Miners Castle Member of the Munising Formation. Rock units are named for places where they were first technically described. The Miners Castle Member consists of crumbly cross-bedded sandstone that is poorly cemented by secondary quartz, according to U.S. Geological Survey Research Ecologist Walter Loope.

Rockfalls along the cliffs typically occur in the spring and fall due to freezing and thawing action of Mother Nature.

 

Did You Know?

The former Grand Marais Coast Guard Station now serves as a Ranger Station at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

When the 729-foot freighter S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald went down on November 10, 1975, the last land-based communication to the ship was from the Grand Marais Coast Guard Station. This station and the Munising USCG Station are now managed by Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. More...