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.
Map of Fort Mackinac in 1991
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.
My husband and I took our children to Fort Mackinac for a summer vacation in 1991.
We walked through the Fort's buildings, which includes 14 original ones.
We watched an audio-visual presentation on "Heritage of Michigan".
We saw music and firearm presentations.
Kirsten and Travis played in the schoolhouse and dressed up as soldiers. They had a great time.
Kirsten sat on a cannon overlooking the straits of Mackinac.
Soldiers standing guard at the Fort.
Looking up at Fort Mackinac from ground level. Steps to the Fort or on the right is a cement incline.
A view of Fort Mackinac with Lake Huron in background.
Ferry ride home with a bag of souvenirs. A soldier hat for Travis and paper dolls for Kirsten.
The pictures don't show the beauty of Mackinac Island and the Fort. The Island should be a must see in your lifetime. It takes you back in time. No motor vehicles are allowed on the island. You can rent bicycles or take a horse and carriage ride. It is a a relaxing and beautiful way to spend time with your family.