As I mentioned in an earlier post this week, I recently did some traveling to the Upper Peninsula area in Michigan. I also mentioned one stop that I didn't cover in the story; Kitch-iti-kippi.


Kitch-iti-kipi ( KITCH-i-tee-KI-pee, with short "i"s) is Michigan 's largest natural freshwater spring. In fact, the name means "big cold spring" in the Ojibwe language. It is also sometimes referred to as the Big Spring. Kitch-iti-kipi, or "Mirror of Heaven" as it is referred to today, was originally given that name by the Ojibwe Tribe.


It is located in Schoolcraft County, just northwest of the city of Manistique, and within Palms Book State Park. The state of Michigan was granted the spring with accompanying land in 1926, under the condition that it be turned into a public park. The state has since acquired surrounding land and expanded the park considerably.


The spring is about 200 feet across and 40 feet deep, and it is distinguished by its dazzling, emerald green. A self-operated observation raft guides park visitors to vantage points overlooking the underwater features. The raft is on a cable that is pulled across the spring pool by visitors. There are viewing windows where you can see the fast flowing springs pushing through the sandy bottom. The flow continues throughout the year at a constant 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Visitors can look over the side of the raft for viewing as well. The raft, dock, concession stand and ranger's quarters were finished in 2003.



According to the Manistique tourism board website, the legend of Kitch-iti-kipi is said to be about a young chieftain whose girlfriend got the best of him. He told her he loved her far above the other dark-haired maidens dancing near his birch bark wigwam. Prove it, she insisted. As a test of his devotion, she declared that he must set sail in his canoe on the pool deep in the conifer swamp. He was to catch her from his canoe as she leaped from an overhanging branch. His canoe overturned in the icy waters and he drowned. It turns out that the maiden was back at the village laughing at his foolish quest. According to legend, the Spring was named Kitch-iti-kipi in memory of the young chieftain who went to his death in the icy waters in an attempt to satisfy the vain caprice of his ladylove.

Check out this video of the underwater springs!

Other legends tell of Chippewa parents who came to the pool seeking names for their newborn. They supposedly found names like Satu (darling), Kakushika (big eye), Natukoro (lovely flower) and We-shi (little fish) scribed in the sounds of the rippling water. They also attributed healing powers to the waters. A drop of honey on a piece of birch bark dipped into Kitch-iti-kipi and presented to a loved one was to make them true forever. Another legend concerned the tamarack growing on the banks of Kitch-iti-kipi. A small piece of the bark ground in a mortar and pestle and placed in an individual's empty pockets would be replaced by glittering gold at exactly midnight. Whatever the legends, visitors love them. Kitch-iti-kipi is said to have many meanings in the Chippewa language-The Great Water; The Blue Sky I See; The Roaring, Bubbling Spring, Mirror of Heaven. Others called it the Sound of Thunder and Drum Water, even though it is perfectly quiet and still above water.

The water is crystal clear and the area is protected. That means no swimming, fishing, or drinking of the water. This is one of the many beautiful places and stories that the (upper) Midwest can offer vacationers.

Google Maps
Credit Google Maps

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