Where’s The Rest of Fort Mackinac?

Where’s The Rest of Fort Mackinac?

Today, visitors to Fort Mackinac experience a wonderfully complete example of a late 19th century American military post. Preserved since 1895 as a museum and historic site, the fort’s 14 original buildings appear much as they did between 1885 and 1889. Most other Army posts from this time period have either decayed into ruins or have been so thoroughly modernized that their historic character is largely invisible. However, the preserved Fort Mackinac open to visitors represents only about half of the post as it existed historically. Although some elements are gone from the landscape, a lot more of Fort Mackinac remains outside the walls- you just need to know where to look. (more…)

This Time For Keeps Photo Album

This Time For Keeps Photo Album

2017 marks the 70th anniversary of the release of Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer’s This Time for Keeps. The Esther Williams “water ballet” musical was the third she made in this genre. About a third of the 90-minute movie is set on Mackinac Island. A number of exterior shots and all interior scenes set on the island were filmed at the M-G-M studio in Culver City, California. However, a number of outdoor scenes were shot on the island. This included winter footage of the docks, downtown, the Stewart Woodfill residence, and wooded trails. These were filmed in February 1946, some using doubles to represent the principals. Most of the principal cast, including Esther Williams, Johnnie Johnston, Jimmy Durante and Lauritz Melchior came to Mackinac Island for several weeks in July 1946 for scenes shot along Main Street, at the Coal Dock, in front of Grand Hotel and at the hotel’s swimming pool. More than 200 extras were also employed for these scenes. (more…)

It Could Be Another Good Winter To See Snowy Owls

It Could Be Another Good Winter To See Snowy Owls

Snowy Owls have recently been observed on Mackinac Island, in St. Ignace, Mackinaw City, and Cheboygan and on the Mackinac Bridge.  It is still the first week of December but these beautiful arctic visitors are appearing throughout the Midwest in relatively large numbers.  If they continue to arrive at this rate, we may be able to enjoy watching them in the Straits area all winter long. (more…)

Winter Recreation on Victorian Mackinac Island

Winter Recreation on Victorian Mackinac Island

Most stores have closed, many hotels and cottages have been boarded up, and we have had the first snow of the season on Mackinac Island.  Winter on Victorian Mackinac Island was much like it is today – boats stopped running, winter provisions were stocked, and the smaller island population could be cut off the from mainland often. While ice breakers, the internet and planes keep present-day Mackinac Island more connected than ever before, what did island residents do in the past in the wintertime? (more…)

The Somewhere in Time Gazebo

The Somewhere in Time Gazebo

The gazebo decorated for a wedding around 2012.

Nestled along Anne’s Tablet Trail, you’ll find the Somewhere in Time Gazebo tucked away over-looking Haldimand Bay, Round Island, and Downtown Mackinac Island. Though the gazebo is stashed away in a secluded part of Mackinac Island, visitors from around the world stop to take in the beauty every day. Some come to witness a part of Hollywood history, others find the view inspiring, and many find it to be a romantic and picturesque wedding venue. (more…)

A Golf Legend Comes to Mackinac Island

A Golf Legend Comes to Mackinac Island

Wawashkamo Register dated June 29, 1919. Walter Hagen outlined in red box.

Wawashkamo Register dated June 29, 1919. Walter Hagen outlined in red box.

Wawashkamo Golf Club’s board of directors recently donated the club’s early Visitor’s Registers to Mackinac State Historic Parks. These leather-bound books, dating from 1900 and filled with the names and dates of golfers, provide a delightful glimpse into the history of the course and early 20th century Mackinac Island. Thumbing through the first volume, we were thrilled to discover that Walter Hagen, one of the game’s most successful and popular golfers in the first half of the 20th century, played the island course in the summer of 1919. (more…)

Obscure Places on Mackinac Island

Obscure Places on Mackinac Island

Every year, thousands of people come to Mackinac Island and visit such well-known places as Arch Rock, British Landing, Sugar Loaf, and Fort Mackinac. But have you ever visited Desha Mound, Langlade Craig, Echo Grotto, or Raymbault Height? These are just a few of the 212 named “places of interest” on the island listed by the Michigan Historical Commission in a 1916 travel bulletin. (more…)

Mackinac’s Contribution to Fashion? Hats!

Mackinac’s Contribution to Fashion? Hats!

Nearly all European and American men wore felt hats in the 18th century. Hats came in numerous shapes and sizes, as seen in this 1747 engraving by famed illustrator William Hogarth.

Nearly all European and American men wore felt hats in the 18th century. Hats came in numerous shapes and sizes, as seen in this 1747 engraving by famed illustrator William Hogarth.

For over 200 years, Michilimackinac, and later Mackinac Island, were centers of the Great Lakes fur trade. Every summer, merchants based at Michilimackinac or on the island shipped tons of furs to factories on the Atlantic coast or in Europe. Trapped by indigenous people around the Great Lakes, otter, muskrat, mink, rabbit, fox, and especially beaver pelts were highly prized in the garment and fashion industry. These furs were used to trim collars and cuffs, line capes and muffs, and, most importantly, to make felt hats. (more…)

Artillery at Fort Mackinac

Artillery at Fort Mackinac

Small bronze mortars, which fired explosive shells in a high arc, also made up part of Fort Mackinac’s early defenses.

Small bronze mortars, which fired explosive shells in a high arc, also made up part of Fort Mackinac’s early defenses.

Artillery pieces always played a vital role at Fort Mackinac. Although their functions changed over time, these weapons were an important feature of the garrison for every soldier who served at the post from 1779 to 1895. (more…)

Preserving Island Business History: Arnold Transit Company

Preserving Island Business History: Arnold Transit Company

George T. Arnold

George T. Arnold

For 138 years, the Arnold Transit Line ferried passengers to and from Mackinac Island. The company started out as the Mackinac Lumber Company. Founded by George T. Arnold and two business partners in 1878, it later became the Arnold and Coats Ferry Line. In 1890, Arnold bought out his competitors and incorporated the company. Thus, the Arnold Transit Line was born! Its fleet was a common sight near Mackinac Island into November 2016 when its assets were sold to Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry. (more…)