Les Feu Follet

Les Feu Follet

The following is excerpted from Were-Wolves and Will-O-The-Wisps: French Tales of Mackinac Retold, written and illustrated by Dirk Gringhuis. The stories in this book are the basis for Fort Fright, taking place October 5 and 6 at Colonial Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City. The book is available at the Colonial Michilimackinac Visitor’s Center, and tickets for Fort Fright are available by clicking here

Les Feu Follet

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The Coronation of George III

The Coronation of George III

King George III in 1762, by Allan Ramsay

On Tuesday, September 22, 1761, George III was formally crowned King of Great Britain and Ireland at Westminster Abbey. Only 23 years old, George had ascended to the throne a year earlier, when his grandfather, King George II, died in October 1760. After an appropriate mourning period for his grandfather, George III and his new wife Charlotte (they were married just two weeks before the ceremony, without any prior meetings) were crowned in a joyous celebration in London. (more…)

The Fog Whistle

The Fog Whistle

Plans for a Lighthouse Service 10-inch whistle, from the 1902 Instructions to Light-Keepers.

Although the light at the top of the tower may be the defining feature of most lighthouses, stations like Old Mackinac Point usually had another, equally valuable signaling system to help keep sailors safe. The light, while valuable in relatively clear conditions, couldn’t always be seen through haze, smoke, driving rain, or fog. During times of low visibility, the keepers turned on Old Mackinac Point’s other signaling system: the fog whistle. (more…)

The Fresnel Lens

The Fresnel Lens

One of the plano-convex lenses that make up Old Mackinac Point’s original lens. These simple lenses, sometimes called bullseyes, could be grouped together to project multiple beams of light.

Fresnel lenses served as the heart of lighthouses around the world, including at Old Mackinac Point. Invented by French scientist Augustin-Jean Fresnel in 1819, these brass and glass beehives bent, magnified, and focused light to project brilliant beams for miles. (more…)

Reynold Weidenaar at the Mackinac Art Museum

Reynold Weidenaar at the Mackinac Art Museum

“Bridge Builders, Mackinac Straits”

Reynold Weidenaar (1915-1985) was an internationally acclaimed artist known for his use of Intaglio-style etching. This complicated process involves etching or engraving a solid piece of copper, placing ink upon the etched copper, and running it through a rotary press with a piece of paper over it to which the ink is then transferred. This creates a print of the etching previously done on the copper. This meticulous process can take anywhere from a few hours to several days to complete. Within the Intaglio process there are many different methods. Two of these can be seen in the prints above. The Bridge and the Storm, Mackinac Straits and Bridge Builders, Mackinac Straits are done in Mezzotint, which involves a rod called a “rocker” used to make the etching. The other, Building the Bridge, Mackinac Straits, is aquatint which utilizes resin for the same etching purpose. (more…)

Patrick Sinclair

Patrick Sinclair

This silhouette is the only known image of Sinclair. The star on his coat may be the badge of the 15th Regiment, in which he served from 1761 to 1773.

Today, if Patrick Sinclair is remembered at all, it is as the somewhat inept British officer who established the fort and permanent community on Mackinac Island. However, Sinclair enjoyed a long career before he arrived at the Straits of Mackinac. (more…)

Gibraltar Craig

Gibraltar Craig

Stereoview of Gibraltar Craig, ca. 1880s

Gibraltar Craig from near Anne’s Tablet, August 2018.

Many striking limestone formations are scattered around Mackinac Island – Arch Rock, Sugar Loaf, and Devil’s Kitchen, to name a few. One of the most seen, yet probably not considered as a formation, lies in front of Fort Mackinac as one looks towards the cannon firing. Gibraltar Craig is the rocky outcropping of limestone just below the upper gun platform of the fort. (more…)

Ongoing Restoration Work at Old Mackinac Point

Ongoing Restoration Work at Old Mackinac Point

If you’ve visited the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse this summer, you’ve probably seen evidence of a major restoration project: piles of bricks, power tools, and scaffolding surrounding the tower and keepers’ quarters. This work, which is progressing nicely, is carefully repairing and rehabilitating the bricks and mortar of the lighthouse, ensuring that Old Mackinac Point can continue welcoming guests for years to come. (more…)

Fire Grenades

Fire Grenades

Detail of the fire grenade on display at the Fort Mackinac guardhouse.

Fort Mackinac suffered structural loss from fires during its use as a military post between 1780 and 1895. Two of the major fires that damaged Fort Mackinac occurred in the years 1855 and 1858. Both fires destroyed several buildings including the barracks. In 1855, the fire started from below the barracks in the cellar which then spread to the barracks chapel, kitchen, and two other nearby facilities. In 1858, the troops of Fort Mackinac were faced with another threatening fire after they had reconstructed the barracks. This fire took place in the bakery, but, to great surprise, grew and demolished the new barracks along with several other smaller buildings. Following these two fires and the Civil War (Fort Mackinac was virtually abandoned during the Civil War), Captain George Brady suggested the use of fire grenades for firefighting within Fort Mackinac. During the mid-1880s, fire grenades were introduced to the fort as a form of fire suppression. The grenades used within the fort were filled with salt-water. (more…)