Charles Hackley’s Treasure Map to the Confederate Gold

Alternative link to video on YouTube:

The History Channel is home to such television hits as American Pickers and Pawn Stars. I thoroughly enjoy that one show where a couple of Michigan boys are hunting for treasure — The Curse Of Oak Island.

And likewise, the spin-off series, The Curse of Civil War Gold. This series hits close to home. By that I mean three miles from where I am currently sitting, my back yard. Muskegon Michigan is the epicenter of this treasure hunt.

This story begins at the end of the Civil War. Confederate Union president Jefferson Davis is captured by the North, and it turns out all of the bank vaults are empty. So where did all this gold go? Civil War buffs will discuss this topic with the same enthusiasm as the topic of Batman at Comic-Con.

This fresh theory is introduced by a deathbed confession; an eyewitness account of a boxcar plunging into the water from a Lake Michigan train ferry.

Enter: Charles Hackley. In a nutshell, Hackley came to Muskegon in its early days as a lumbertown, became wealthy, and shared his wealth with Muskegon as a well-known philanthropist.

The belief is that Charles Hackley had something to do with this Confederate gold and it may have contributed to his wealth.

The video at the top of this page is one that I made as a lighthearted parody/satire. The germination process of the idea was completely involuntary. Therefore I carry no responsibility for its content. Besides, it’s all in fun.

Without any “spoiler alert” warning, I will add that there really is no treasure map. However, there is an Easter Egg. ūüôā

– Jon

Edward Curtis – The North American Indian at the Muskegon Museum Of Art

Now through September 10, 2017, is the super ambitious exhibition of the photography portfolio of The North American Indian by Edward S. Curtis.

This project is a 20 volume set that is essentially a comprehensive encyclopedia of the native tribes living in the regions of North America west of the Mississippi River.

Not only is this project an ambitious one, it was compiled by a crew led by photographer Edward Curtis. Its sheer enormity is its claim to fame. The accompanying photography is the glorious icing on the cake.

Each of the twenty volumes included a set of art prints, in the form of a gravure, or photogravure. This entire set of original books and gravures have been in Muskegon since its release a century ago. And for the first time anywhere, all 223 gravures are on display, celebrating the artistic vision of an inspired photographer.

This video is part one of a series I will be making about this stunning collection.


MuskeCon | Muskegon Comic-Con

It felt more like browsing through a small neighborhood book store than getting lost in a big-box store. It was the first time for me to attend a comic-con and Muskegon’s first time hosting. It was fun. I’m generally familiar with how a comic-con looks, but to jump into the mix was the best way to experience it.

This video is part of my PHLog series on YouTube. (Like VLOG, but photo-tip driven, thus PHLog.) Enjoy, like, love, share and subscribe!!

– Jon Jacobson


Windy Day at Pere Marquette Beach

A gale warning is always the allure. Irresistible and dramatic. Lake Michigan always puts on a show.

Dramatic gales pound relentlessly against the South Breakwater Light in Muskegon at sunset
Dramatic gales pound relentlessly against the South Breakwater Light in Muskegon at sunset

In this video, we enjoy the energy that draws an audience of spectators. Wind and waves and the Muskegon Lights lit by the setting sun.

Plus a bonus reminder to apply the rule of thirds as we look through the view finder of a camera.


Year In Review – Muskegon 2016

This is something entirely different. Different for me anyway!

In the previous and now lost era of this blog, the year-in-review was simply a series of still photos, and occasionally a video of still photos. Well, this year is a video of videos. I call it — my labor of love.

This video is one giant personal project, which is really a bunch of little personal projects. Or, let’s call it one giant music video, which is really a bunch of little music videos. Let’s be totally open here, it’s also really long. 14 minutes, plus closing credits and outtakes.

It’s 100% Muskegon, highlighting some of the things that makes this town great:
– Lakeshore Art Festival
– Rebel Road Bike Rally
– Pere Marquette Beach & Beach Volleyball
– The Singing Christmas Tree
– Parties in the Park
– Unity Christian Music Festival
– etc

Jump on in, turn up the music. And SUBSCRIBE to the Picture Michigan YouTube channel for more!

– Jon

2015 Year in Review

It’s an old Picture Michigan tradition that was lost when the website blog went kaput a few years ago. The Year In Review returns with an upgrade.

In the past it was a combination of highlighting my photography and showing off my home state of Michigan. This time around, I would simply like to show off the town of Muskegon. This video highlights a few of the events, some of the places, and most of all, the awesome people that call Muskegon HOME!!

It’s quite a ride and I hope you enjoy. And if you enjoy it, please share it with the world! Thank you for dropping by.

– Jon



Muskegon Video Clips

In the past month, while photographing around Muskegon, I captured some video clips and time-lapse video. Each of the four were posted on Facebook over the course of a month.

Here is a bundle of those four videos. Note that because it’s a bundle, we role credits twice.

And it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t throw in a few still photos too! There was a lot of awesome picture-taking during this stretch of time. I’ll call these three “a few of my favorites.”


Muskegon Lake Michigan Lighthouse
Waves crash over the South Breakwater Light during sunset in Muskegon on Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan Sunset
Sunset over Lake Michigan in Muskegon
Muskegon South Breakwater Light
November Gales batter the Muskegon South Breakwater Light on Lake Michigan


Ice Caves on Lake Michigan, Muskegon

I just didn’t know what direction I wanted to go with this post. Originally it was going to be called The Evolution of Muskegon’s Ice Caves. But they’re so darn cool! I just want to share the cool pictures of them and drop the technical garbage!

So I’ll combine the two ideas and tone down the technical garbage and keep it cool.

Ice Caves Lake Michigan Muskegon
1/4/2015 — Near Portal A

Here’s a picture of a surfer dude. It was taken January 4. He is approximately where the Ice Caverns are today. They started forming five days later. More on that in a second.

The pictures in this article are all captioned with the date it was taken and noting either Portal A or Portal B.

Ice Caves Lake Michigan Muskegon
3/4/2015 — Portal A & B Panorama

You see the¬†circles around a couple sets of people.¬†They are standing near the two entrances into this set of caves and caverns.¬†If you want to see this exact location, go here to google maps (opens in separate window/tab) and it’ll help to be in satellite or earth mode.

So surfer dude is enjoying some heinous waves in a strong solid wind. Yes, it was windy. But in a funny way, it was the calm before the storm. Five days later, January 8, the East Coast was dealing with Winter Storm Juno. Here in West Michigan, we were dealing with the Winter Storm we called Thursday. Well, actually, we called the day of the week Thursday.

The forecast was for “near-blizzard” conditions. Here at the lake we exceeded those condition and approached hurricane conditions. 45 mph winds and 65 mph wind gusts. An inch of snow an hour.

A few days later I found the beach.

Ice Caves Lake Michigan Muskegon
1/11/2015 — Far From Portal B

Yes, I know, the above picture I featured in a blog post from a couple months ago. But ya gotta admit, it’s sick! It’s cool! And I did say I was gonna keep this cool!

Looking at the following two pictures, also taken the same day as that cool picture of the above lighthouse, you can see the beginnings of what are the ice caves. In fact, I would dare say the caves and caverns are already there. That is, they are hollow but closed.

Before the winter storm we called Thursday, we did have a couple days worth of gale force winds Tuesday and Wednesday. These ice cliffs had already started forming, but not nearly as impressive as they are in these shots.

Scroll back up and compare the following two shots with the panoramic picture. You should get a sense of the scene. You’ll also note that the water surface is frozen and chunky.

Ice Caves Lake Michigan Muskegon
1/11/2015 — Near Portal B

Ice Caves Lake Michigan Muskegon
1/11/2015 — Near Portal B

So you’re catching this, right? Above,¬†the surface of the lake is frozen and chunky. On January 11, with a high temperature of 34 F. And then the next day, January 12, for the sunset, I’m standing (actually I was laying on my belly) at the same location, just facing a slightly different direction. High temperature this day is¬†33 F. (Can you find the swimming duck?)

Ice Caves Lake Michigan Muskegon
1/12/2015 — Near Portal B

A few days later is hit 40 F. Warm. Wind. Energy creating an undulating sea. The surface of the lake is not frozen, a little chunky still, and it moves up & down. Grab the Dramamine.

Ice Caves Lake Michigan Muskegon
1/17/2015 — Near Portal B

Let’s fast forward about a month. Not a lot of change was occurring, nor was I predicting ice caves here. So I didn’t photograph this particular ice shelf.

It was February 12 I walked the breakwater a couple times. Once during the midday and once after sunset. This first half of February was a little warm, with daytime highs in the upper 20s F and even a couple upper 30s F.

We’ve already seen how the air temperature can effect the surface ice.¬†A daytime high temperature of 33 F means most of the day was below freezing. Yet the ice had the capability to melt. Plus a little wind will break that surface ice. Now remember, Lake Michigan is an enormous body of water with a constant temperature¬†ranging from the 40s to the 50s.

Ice Caves Lake Michigan Muskegon
2/12/2015 — Portal A

This above shot shows Portal A. That is the entrance to the caverns nearest the breakwater. On this particular day there was a lot of broken surface ice. It was also windy. Not crazy windy. Not gale windy. Maybe “small craft advisory” windy.

I’m standing on the breakwater while photographing the scene in the below picture. I recall feeling at my feet¬†the WOOMPH energy when these waves crashed. It was quite sensational, but I have to note that the wind and waves and energy and resulting spray would be considerably less that that night of January 8 when we had near hurricane force winds.

Looking closely at the above photo, you can see through the ice cave. To stand at this exact spot today (March 6), you would see something radically different. From this spot, which I have identified as Portal A, is actually a small ice canyon. It’s about 5 to 6 feet deep and about 10′¬†to¬†15′ long. The Portal A entrance is a small hole only about 2 feet high.

Ice Caves Lake Michigan Muskegon
2/12/2015 — Near Portal A

Fast forward seven hours, shortly after sunset. Calm.

Ice Caves Lake Michigan Muskegon
2/12/2015 — Near Portal B

A few days later, Muskegon is still¬†in the middle of a weather trend that is definitely winter. It snows every day and we’ve not witnessed an air temp above freezing. On this day, the high temperature was 10 F. These folks are looking into what is now Portal A. They are looking at surface water. Scroll up three photos and you will see approximately what these folks see.

Ice Caves Lake Michigan Muskegon
2/15/2015 — Portal A

A couple key components continue as the days progress. The winds have died down and the temperatures continue the way-below-freezing trend. The walls and domed ceilings of these ice caves remain in tack, though completely unseen from the breakwater. And the floors are becoming solid.

Ice Caves Lake Michigan Muskegon
2/26/2015 — Near Portal B

During the past couple of months, and especially during the night of Winter Storm Thursday, winds howled, waves crashed, water sprayed high into the air, and simply froze in place. droplet by droplet. It seems like a bit of a stretch of the imagination.

But hear me out on this one. In the below photo, I’m not really sure what these two are doing. They may have detected something I detected a few days prior to this shot and they were checking it out. While I was walking around that spot on the breakwater, the sound under my feet gave off a resonance that was notably hollow. Scary hollow. Thin ice hollow. Is there another ice cave under their feet?

Ice Caves Lake Michigan Muskegon
2/26/2015 — Far from Portal B

Another observation made, in terms of the evolution of the Ice Caves and ice bergs lining the beach, is that they do move. Albeit, slowly. The particular Ice Cave is tucked in along the breakwater. It will shift very little compared to some of the other ice formations that I have witnessed during the past couple months.

I mention this as a reality check. A safety check. This ice is unstable. And keep in mind, it is¬†floating.¬†It’s all interconnected, and parts of these ice formations are gripping the breakwater and the beach — giving them¬†SOME foundation. But still floating on a massive body of water. Water with temperatures well above freezing and constantly moving and flowing, even below the Ice Cave.

Here are the rest of the cool pictures plus a video tour like you’ve never before¬†seen!

And the video tour of the Muskegon Ice Caves!

Please share the love with all those buttons under here!!


Two Lighthouses & Two Years & A Lot Of Ice

It’s winter in West Michigan. We had a heinous storm last week with lots of wind. And a year ago about this time we had a similar storm with lots of wind. These storms churned up enough spray from Lake Michigan to coat the lights in Grand Haven and Muskegon with a thick blanket of ice.

The following gallery does not show howling winds, trees bending over, or heavy snowfall. These are images of winter, evoking what may be the imagination’s longing for an era of serenity and solitude in conflict with the mere means of survival for lighthouse keepers from days-gone-by.

There’s a lot of story-telling within these scenes. It was surreal experiencing it, noticing the way the ice bends as the winds changed directions.

Two different days separated by a year, two different lighthouses separated by fifteen miles.

Grand Haven on 1/8/2014 and Muskegon on 1/11/2015.