French soldiers constructed the fortified community of Michilimackinac on the south side of the Straits of Mackinac in 1715. The community grew and prospered over the coming years as Michilimackinac became an important center of the Great Lakes fur trade. Every summer, thousands of Native Americans and French-Canadian voyageurs gathered at the post, which served as transfer station for furs trapped in the western Great Lakes and trade goods shipped in from eastern cities such as Montreal and Quebec. Michilimackinac came under British control in 1761, but the fur trade and community life remained relatively unchanged. Fearful that the post was vulnerable to attack by American rebels, the British disassembled the fort and community and moved it to Mackinac Island in 1779-81.

The Mackinac Island State Park Commission acquired the site of Michilimackinac in 1909, creating Michigan’s second state park. Archaeological excavation and reconstruction of the site began in 1959, and still continue today. The fort and community are being reconstructed to their appearance in the mid-1770s, and interpreters depict the British soldiers, Native Americans, French-Canadian voyageurs, merchants and their families, and others who called Michilimackinac home. For more detailed history click here to visit the Colonial Michilimackinac history page.