From the Archives: Passenger Travel


Today, most visitors arrive at the Straits of Mackinac via automobile. Before the 1880s nearly all arrived by water aboard passenger steamers. Great Lakes passenger ships continued to ply the inland seas into the twentieth century, but in ever dwindling numbers through the decades, and ended in the late 1960s. The railroads reached here in the early 1880s, allowing easy land transportation for the first time. Automobile travel gradually supplanted rail beginning in the 1910s.

These are examples from Mackinac State Historic Parks archives of timetables, brochures, and promotional booklets produced by the shipping companies and railroads that came to Mackinac Island and Mackinaw City.

ca. 1905

The archives of Mackinac State Historic Parks preserve a vast variety of materials documenting the history of the Straits of Mackinac, including photographs, postcards and business records. The travel material presented here is part of the “ephemera” collection. Other examples of ephemera include island promotional booklets, brochures, business cards, programs and posters.




Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad, 1891













ca. 1890









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