Here's a quick look at the most visited links, in order, at Midwest Guest in 2015:
(1) Foodie Finds 5 Best Places to eat around Saugatuck Michigan (originally published December 13, 2011)-This story was a guest post written by Jessie Voigts of Wandering Educators, who wrote it to help me keep Midwest Guest going in the wake of my dad's death in 2011. I worry about restaurant posts sometimes becoming too dated, too quickly due to closings, but these eateries, with the exception of one (Chequers) all seem to still be in business (although Su Casa operates its main office out of the Saugatuck address while operating eateries at South Haven and Holland.
(2) The History and Mystery of Put-In-Bay's Victory Hotel (originally published October 29, 2015) - I worried that this story might be too long and considered running it in two parts, but ultimately opted to run it as originally written. It did just fine, with a little help from the folks from Put-in-Bay who helped get the word out about it. I'm also of the mind that including the word "Mystery" in the title didn't hurt, as "mystery" stories seem to do well here as well (you'll note that two other stories with "mystery" in the title made this list for 2015).
(3) Visiting Kewpee Hamburgers in Downtown Lima, Ohio (originally published May 5, 2011) - Not sure why this story popped into the Top Ten list this year, but here it is in all of its baby doll glory! The weird decor and Michigan connection, which most Ohio folks don't seem to know about, made this place a must-stop for us. Fascinating how many folks commented about enjoying Kewpee's, and sorry (not) to one commenter who was sorely disappointed to find what he thought was an Ohio favorite really came from Michigan.
(4) The Mystery of Turtle Town USA Churubusco, Indiana (originally published July 12, 2012) - This tale of Oscar, reputed to be a giant turtle weighing as much as 500 pounds that lived in a farmer's pond near this northern Indiana town, brought plenty of fame to Churubusco in the late 1900s and during the early years of the twentieth century and is a repeat listing on the Top Ten list this year. The turtle I found during my visit to the city didn't confirm or deny the story, which is the inspiration for a popular festival and the town's identity as Turtle Town USA.
(5) The Mystery of Benzie County's Putney Road (originally published October 28, 2010) -This is another repeat listing on the Top Ten list this year. We heard about this spot in northern Michigan where it appears that your car goes uphill and backwards when you put it into neutral. We finally tested out this mystery spot and posted a short video of with this post because who doesn't like finding free and family-friendly attractions in a popular area like northern Michigan?
(6) Visit the Fiesta Factory in Newell, West Virginia (originally published August 9, 2011) - This post still hangs in the Top Ten after topping the list in 2012 and 2013 and placing in the middle of the pack in 2014 and 2015. I've always loved Fiesta dishes, so visiting the Homer Laughlin Company factory store in West Virginia was a must-do when we drove the Lincoln Highway through that state. Hoping to head back to that area and check out East Liverpool, Ohio just across the Ohio River from here to learn more about the pottery scene and history there.
(7) Canyon Falls and Gorge, the Grand Canyon of Michigan's Upper Peninsula (originally published June 29, 2010) -This story about a pretty roadside park just off of U.S. 41 near Baraga on the Sturgeon River in the Upper Peninsula has turned into a top-ten favorite since being published. The park features a short hike past a series of small rapids and waterfalls along the river that include the 15-foot-tall Canyon Falls and on through a canyon that is pretty impressive considering its location in a state not known for deep canyons or gorges.
(8) Peterson Park is a Local Gem near Northport, Michigan (originally published October 16, 2012) -We visited this out-of-the-way park near the tip of Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula (Michigan's "little pinkie") at the suggestion of Tim's sister who lives in the area. Not many tourists know about the park, but it seems to be a favorite location for at least one area wedding photographer who posted a link to this story it from their site, which I think helps with the story's continuing strong traffic draw each year.
(9) Motown Remembers Michael Jackson (originally published July 31, 2009) -I wrote this story about an impromptu memorial in Detroit at the Motown Museum to the multi-talented entertainer shortly after his death in July of 2009. Even as Jackson died more than six years ago, interest in this story remains strong.
(10) Conquering the Sleeping Bear Dune Climb (originally published July 14, 2009) - This is another one that mystifies me with its appearance in the Top Ten list long after its original appearance. I'm not so sure I'd want to try this climb today, but I'm glad I did it so I could, like just about everyone else I know in Michigan, could say that I did it!
The Top Ten stories for any given year seem to consist mostly of evergreens written in prior years, so I like to include a few more of the most-read stories from the most recent year and see they become evergreens in years to come. It often takes a year or so to see any stories written from the current year appear on this list, but the number of stories I wrote that did well this year, despite the fact that they went up sometime during the year and missed accumulating traffic for the entire year, surprised me.
Here are the highest performers, beyond my story about Put-in-Bay's Hotel Victory, from 2015 with their ranking for the year:
(14) Cooke Castle holds Court on Ohio's Gibraltar Island (originally published May 28, 2015) - I jumped at the chance to see this late 1800s mansion on Ohio's Gibraltar Island when I went to a workshop for science and outdoor writers there. I loved the opportunity to finally go inside of the building, get a good look it and learn a bit of its history.
(26) Cops and Doughnuts an Arresting Attraction in Clare, Michigan (originally published September 10, 2015) - I'd always wanted to check out this bakery and its interesting back story that involves, you guessed it, cops and doughnuts! The cops are quite a social media savvy bunch and jumped on the story, helping to get the word out, which made winners of both the blog and the business. We've eaten lunch since our first visit there, and can vouch for that as well.
(37) Find out why Mohican is the Camp and Canoe Capital of Ohio at Mohican Adventures (originally published July 28, 2015) - This was a story I wrote after staying for a couple of days at the Mohican State Park Lodge, and the folks at the lodge helped spread the word about the story.
(50) Martin Luther King Bridge in Fort Wayne, Indiana (originally published January 13, 2015) I'm always fascinated with bridges, and did this story about a span in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana. The bridge was impressive enough during the day, but I hope to see it again someday during the evening when the city lights it up with special colored lights during the holidays or in a red and green color scheme in honor of the city's beloved Tin Caps baseball team.
(55) Celebrate Miller Ferries 110th Anniversary with a trip to Put-in-Bay, Ohio (originally published September 29, 2015) - This was a late-in-the-season story that I did about the 110th anniversary of the Miller Ferries in Put-in-Bay, Ohio. This one was particularly fun to do as Miller allowed me to share some of the photos from their historical collection and Tim was able to create a short video with a musical sound track from some footage I shot during one of our trips over to the island.
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