Mackinac Island, and the fort in part, played an important role in the early economy of the territory. In the 1820's it was a huge fur trading post. The 1830's brought about commercial fishing. The Fort was pretty much abandoned during the civil war because the soldiers were used to fight for the Union. After the Civil War, Mackinac Island became a spot for relaxing and vacationing. In 1875, Mackinac Island became a national park. The only other national park at the time was Yellowstone. The soldiers were used to help keep the park up; and the commanding officer was the park superintendent. The cost of upkeep was such that in 1895 the park was closed. Eventually, the park was transferred to the state of Michigan and it became Michigan's first state park. It was in the 1930's that the restoration began and continues even now.
A visit to Fort Mackinac, today, will allow one to see it like it was in 1895 when the soldiers left the fort and island. You start your trip with a short ferry ride from Mackinac City (on the south side of the bridge) or St. Ignace (on the north side of the bridge) to Mackinac Island. The Fort is a national historic landmark. It recreated life as it was in 1895. There is a parade ground, firearm and music demonstrations, period buildings, and more.