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Sunday, June 21, 2015

This is a photo I took of Arch Rock while visiting Mackinac Island

The Legend of Arch Rock

Arch Rock on Mackinac Island is interesting for several reasons. An arch like this is pretty rare so that alone is enough to talk about it. The more interesting part for most readers of this post will probably be the legend of how the arch was formed. I guess I should say legends, with an "s" because there is more than one.

Standing 146 feet above the water Arch Rock is a natural curiosity for many people. The arch spans  50 feet at its widest point. Geologists explain the formation as being formed over thousands of years by wind and rain. But legend(s) states otherwise.

The arch has been a source of legend and superstition for the Native American Ottawa people. This is partly due to the fact the rock appears to be suspended in mid-air from certain angles.

Here is the version of how Arch Rock was formed as told to tourists who visit Mackinac Island.
The Indian legend goes like this:

"A long time ago, a beautiful young Indian woman named Ne-daw-niss (She who walks like the mist), while gathering wild rice, met a handsome young man who was the son of a sky spirit. They fell in love, but she was forbidden to marry the non-mortal by her cruel father. He beat her and tied her on a rock high on a bluff on the Island of the Turtle. She wept softly for her lover. Tears flowing down the bluff washed away the stone and formed the arch. In time the young man returned, untied her and took her in his arms. Together they returned to the home of his sky people."

Another legend attempts to explain the rock's mythical nature via an angry Master of Life. That version goes like this:

"An Ottawa chieftain committed an act so shameful that the Master of Life was deeply offended by it. As the Ottawa people stood gazing at the sun one day, it changed to the color of blood and then plummeted from the sky. When the sun reached the earth, it crashed into the eastern shore of Mackinac Island with a terrifying sound. Once the frightened people dared to look upon the sight, it appeared as though the sun had hollowed out some of the rocks so as to form an arch, suspended above the lake."

This could be why some believe the arch is a way for departed souls to cross over to their resting place. This structure adds to the mystery of the island as well as notching up that creepy feeling.

While on Mackinac Island I saw old photographs of people sitting on top of Arch Rock but of course, this is totally not allowed now.

According to what we were told, you only have about 30 more years to see Arch Rock because at the current rate of erosion, it will be totally gone around that time frame. The reason for the arch crumbling away is that the rock is a porous rock with many cracks and this allows in moisture, that moisture freezes and expands the rock slowing crumbling it away. The arch is formed in limestone. Most limestone is composed of skeletal fragments of marine organisms, which erodes rather easily with water. Most cave systems are carved out by water passing through limestone.

So, if you live close by, or are taking the trip to the island, and have never seen Arch Rock, get up there and have a look, the view is nothing short of awesome.


This post by Thomas Marcum, Thomas is the founder/leader of the cryptozoology and paranormal research organization known as The Crypto Crew. Over 20 years of experience with research and investigation of unexplained activity, working with video and websites. A trained wild land firefighter and a published photographer, and a poet.

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