- SARAH CHISHOLM - Fine Art & Photography | City Mirage Phenomenon Over Lake Huron
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City Mirage Phenomenon Over Lake Huron

June 19, 2014  •  18 Comments

  As those of you who follow my work know, I can often be found down at the beach around sunset and evening time, making use of the beautiful light and just enjoying my surroundings. Tonight was another of those summer nights; warm, with a cool breeze coming off Lake Huron, just a few wispy clouds overhead and on the horizon. I was at the north side beach. The sun set. I took photos. The afterglow deepened. I left the beach, and threw my backpack on a bench near my car, packing up my camera. I turned one last time to take in the view of sky and water. Am I ever glad I did. 
  Far out over the lake, southwest and just off the end of the pier to my view, I spotted some wavering pillars of light.

  "No way. Don't even get your hopes up", I thought. You see, I've heard of the phenomenon of seeing cities that are actually over in Michigan, (which is miles and miles away from us here in Kincardine, Ontario, across one of the largest lakes on the planet!), on the horizon as if they were only a couple of miles away. My father in law once saw a mirage city in broad daylight from the roof of the huge nuclear plant nearby, and I've heard tales of sailors seeing mirage cities after sunset from various spots on Lake Huron. I have always wanted to see this myself, but I know it must be a rare sight, requiring certain conditions I do not pretend to know anything about. Alas, after many, many evenings at the lake, I have been disappointed. Until tonight.
  Sure enough, the more I watched this strange appearance of lights, the more it revealed itself to be a city. I could see the tall skyscrapers and towers of a brightly-lit city core, complete with antennae and red blinking lights on the tops. I made out the passing by of headlights and taillights of cars traveling quickly to and from the downtown. It was getting well on to dusk at this point, and I didn't have my tripod. I began to worry no one would believe me, and that it would disappear as soon as it had presented itself. Where was everyone? There was no one around. I began to walk very quickly toward the pier. 

  When I got to the end of the pier a few minutes later, the light pillars and towers and city bustle were still visible. A couple of young people came to the end to ask me what they were seeing out there... was that... Michigan?! Yes, indeed! They could see the city too. We watched as the horizon to the left of the downtown became dotted with red blinking lights and racing white lights; perhaps an airport, or windmills? The horizon was alive with light and movement in one spot, which should have been completely dark - miles and miles and miles of deep, empty lake. 
  I called my in-laws and they came to the pier and watched the ghostly city for a while. That's two lake city mirages for my father-in-law! It had been at least half an hour since I first saw the shimmering city, and it was still there, although it was quickly fading as full dark set in. The towers became just dots of light like the rest. I went home, and grabbed my tripod, hoping against hope that the strange apparition was still there when I returned. 
  It was! 

  With a long exposure photograph and a steady tripod, we can finally see a bit of detail here. The lights to the very left of the photo are the street lights along Boiler Beach Road, which runs along the shore of the lake south of Kincardine. The land point ends almost right after that line of lights. Now we are supposed to have dark lake with no possibility of seeing any civilization out there. But in the middle of the photo, you can see the glow from the city, and right on the horizon, several red dots from the windmills or airport, then the brighter lights of the city core, and just to the right of that, the glow from cars coming and going on a freeway, I think. All of the lights in the centre of this photo should absolutely not be there, and they are not boats. This was a writhing, living, breathing city, visible out on the lake. 

  Here's a close-up crop of the red blinking lights stretching far across the horizon, and the bright city centre with glowing red taillights.   
  Again, we see the lights from Kincardine on the far left, and over the lake, the apparition lights of a mirage city. I watched it in the dark for quite some time, and I could again make out cars moving, lights blinking, the occasional bright flash, and other movement and shimmering. This was by far one of the coolest things I've ever seen over the lake. Upon further research, I found out this is what's called a "superior mirage", and it's not common. It's absolutely "impossible" to see any cities across the lake because of distance, but there it is. I am just grinning. I hope you got a chance to see the lights as well if you are in the area, and if this is the first you've heard of the phenomenon, be sure to keep your eyes open from now on, especially after sunset.
  Make a wish! Thanks for reading. (Please excuse the poor quality photos this time! Copyright ©Sarah Chisholm; do not use without permission)


Thanks for sharing your experience!
I have a pic I find very detailing. Taken july 12 2018 from the shore of lake Huron. I'm very Intrigued and would like to share with anyone who finds interest in such topic..thanks to all cguer001@gmail.com
Craig S.(non-registered)
I stumbled upon this blog post after searching to find answers for myself.

I saw the same thing a few months ago in mid June just a few km's north of Grand Bend at a friends cottage.

It was late at night and the fire we were having on the beach had died down , I was just staring off into the dark Lake when I noticed (what seemed to me) city lights. All the people I was with thought I was crazy thinking that we could see a city all the way across Lake Huron and decided upon themselves that it must be a lot of boats (far too many for THAT to be the answer in my opinion)

Your night shot of the mirage is EXACTLY what we had been seeing that night!

I am glad that I am not the only one to witness this phenomenon, and with the proof of having daylight photos of this it solidifies my thoughts even more.

Thanks for sharing this!
I witnessed a similar phenomenon in early August of this year while vacationing in Harbor Beach,along with a mirage city there was a black sphere moving across the water really fast, and then coming to a dead stop and shooting up above the water. It then shot back down and started moving fast again and repeating. Me and my husband watched it for a while. I still don't know what it was we saw.
Scott priestap(non-registered)
You may want to contact me 5198788413 pronto. I have been investigating . Interacting and documenting this phenomenon for 38 years and formally for 10 mos now. I can shed some light as to what your city is and is not. Your help would be valuable . 5198788413 I also have a cottage on the lake. Please text asap
Dave Joy(non-registered)
In the early 1990s I saw a sky line of lights on Lake Huron. It included car head lights, city lights . I was on the cliff top 10 km south of point clarke near kintail . During the day I saw what I think was a light house and several other objectsfrom the michigan side.
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