American Fur Company Retail Store / Dr. Beaumont Museum

Corner of Market Street and Fort Street
Represents 1820’s fur trading era

Your Experience

The American Fur Company Store is time-stamped from the 1820’s when Mackinac Island was the bustling center of the North American fur trade.  Shoes, cloth, china, flour, and hats, it’s all here, representing items that were sold in this restored building nearly 200 years ago.  Talk to the shop keeper and ask her questions about this era, this building, and the significant medical breakthrough that happened right here.

In the adjacent room is the interactive Dr. Beaumont Museum, a tribute to the science of the digestive process and the man whose groundbreaking experiencemts are the basis of modern knowledge of the digestive system.  These hands-on displays will leave you with a keen understanding of this process.

History

The understanding of the digestive process began in the early 19th-century on Mackinac Island. In 1822 French-Canadian voyageur (fur trader) Alexis St. Martin was accidentally shot in the stomach while inside the American Fur Company Store.  The outcome seemed grim.  However, Dr. William Beaumont, who was stationed at nearby Fort Mackinac, treated St. Martin’s wound with meticulous care.  The hole leading into his stomach never completely healed over, leaving a virtual pathway into the science of the digestive process.  With St. Martin’s continuing permission and support, Dr. Beaumont studied the digestive process for many years through the wound.