History

History

Mill Creek was established in 1790 by Robert Campbell to provide sawn lumber for nearby Mackinac Island.  Campbell also operated a farm, with hay fields, cattle and an extensive orchard.  A gristmill was eventually added to the operation.  In 1819 the mill and farm were purchased by wealthy Mackinac Island merchant Michael Dousman.  He continued operations on the site through the 1830s.  Abandoned and eventually forgotten, Mill Creek was rediscovered in 1972.  After extensive archaeological work, the site opened in 1984.  Today, visitors can watch the reconstructed sawmill in operation and explore the natural history of the site through trails, exhibits and naturalist programs. Click here to learn more about Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park’s history.

History

History

With maritime traffic in the Straits of Mackinac steadily increasing, Congress authorized the construction of a light station at Old Mackinac Point in 1889. The new station was to replace an existing light at McGulpin Point, two miles to the west, which was not visible to vessels sailing on Lake Huron. A fog signal went into operation at Old Mackinac Point in 1890, and the lighthouse itself was completed and lit for the first time in 1892. A storage barn and oil house completed the station. Old Mackinac Point’s flashing red light, shining atop a stately stone tower and castle-like keepers’ quarters, was visible for 16 miles, guiding sailors through the sometimes treacherous waters of the Straits of Mackinac. For 65 years the keepers of Old Mackinac Point stood watch every night to monitor the station’s equipment. The Old Mackinac Point light station was decommissioned in 1957, replaced by navigational aids mounted on the newly-constructed Mackinac Bridge.

The Mackinac Island State Park Commission acquired the light station in 1960, and opened it to the public as the center of the Michilimackinac Maritime Park in 1972. After closing in the 1990s, the light station reopened to the public in 2004. Today, the site is being restored to its appearance around 1910, and historic interpreters are on hand to greet visitors and lead them on tours up the tower.

To learn more about the history of Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, visit the history page.

History

History

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.

History

History

Fort Mackinac was founded during the American Revolution. Believing Fort Michilimackinac at what is now Mackinaw City was too vulnerable to American attack, the British moved the fort to Mackinac Island in 1780. Americans took control in 1796. In July 1812, in the first land engagement of the War of 1812 in the United States , the British captured the fort. In a bloody battle in 1814 the Americans attempted but failed to retake the fort. It was returned to the United States after the war. The fort remained active until 1895. During these years Mackinac Island was transformed from a center of the fur trade into a major summer resort.

The stone ramparts, the south sally port and the Officer’s Stone Quarters are all part of the original fort built over 225 years ago. The other buildings in the fort are of more recent origin, dating from the late 1790s to 1885. The buildings have been restored to how they looked during the final years of the fort’s occupation. Interpreters depict U. S. Army soldiers from this same period, dressed in distinctive Prussian-inspired uniforms. Click here to learn more about Fort Mackinac’s history.

Colonial Michilimackinac

Colonial Michilimackinac

War in the West: Michilimackinac 1779. 

This is Mackinac.

Treasures from the past come to life at this 18th-century fort and fur trading village, reconstructed based on historic maps and more than 60 years of archaeological excavations. As you walk through the site, you are stepping back in time to 1779, during the American Revolution. Historical interpreters representing voyageurs, British soldiers, and French-Canadian merchant families are stationed throughout the fort to answer your questions and perform demonstrations.

Located on the shore of the Straits of Mackinac, visitors can enjoy stunning views of the Mackinac Bridge, the straits, and the Upper Peninsula. 

Highlights

Live Programs and Tours

Demonstrations and tours by costumed interpreters take place throughout the day. Cooking, crafts and trades are conducted at key locations and vary by season. Exciting programs for the 2022 season include War in the West: Michilimackinac 1779, The Pleasures of the Table: Dining Culture at the Merchant’s House, a look at the enslaved community at Michilimackinac, Some Tea and Loaf Sugar: Tea at the British Trader’s House, Unpack a Trade Bale programs, and more!

Click any schedule below to see what will be happening during your visit.

June 4 – September 4, 2022
September 5 – October 7, 2022
October 13 – October 23, 2022 (Thursday-Sunday ONLY)

Click to enlarge.

Exhibits

All sixteen buildings in the fort are open and furnished with period settings or themed exhibits. Special exhibits include:

  • France at Mackinac, 1670-1760, explores Michilimackinac as it was under the French regime.
  • Treasures from the Sand, an underground exhibit exploring the process of historical archaeology.
  • Redcoats on the Frontier, describing the life of the British soldier, including a new interactive space that will allow visitors to step back in time to experience the lives of British soldiers in the 1770s.
  • Powder Magazine and Firearms on the Frontier, a subterranean exhibit describing the preserved ruins of this military structure.
  • Commanding Officer’s House, showcasing the life of Michilimackinac’s commanding officer.

Movies

Michilimackinac: Crossroads of the Great Lakes, a 15-minute movie, is presented in the King’s Storehouse. It plays every 20 minutes. Attack! at Michilimackinac presents the most dramatic event in the fort’s history. It plays continuously in the Trader’s House of the Southwest Rowhouse.

Kids’ Rendezvous 

Children can exercise both bodies and brains as they explore the routes of the fur traders. Located just outside the Visitor’s Center.

Ongoing Archaeology 

During the main season, from early June until mid-August, you can witness archaeologists continuing the excavation of Michilimackinac. Taking place each summer since 1959, the dig is one of longest ongoing excavations of its kind in the nation.

Watch the video below to see all that Colonial Michilimackinac has to offer!

 

Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park

Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park

Have an Adventure. 

This is Mackinac. 

Witness the power of the creek harnessed to cut timber into lumber at one of the oldest industrial sites on the Upper Great Lakes. Smell the sawdust as sawyers demonstrate the pit saw method of cutting lumber, then feel the power of the creek used to cut timber inside the reconstructed sawmill. 

Experience the Adventure Tour, a guided experience that takes you into, above and through the northern Michigan forest. Scale the five-story Treetop Discovery Tower, taking in bird calls along the way. Brave the Forest Canopy Bridge, high above Mill Creek that explores the under story of the forest. Finally, fly like an eagle down the 425′ Eagle’s Flight Zip Line while spotting fish in the creek. 

Join trained naturalists for engaging programs showcasing the North Woods, and then take time to explore the natural beauty of Mill Creek State Park, which has more than three miles of groomed hiking trails. 

Highlights

Live Programs and Tours

Historical demonstrations by costumed interpreters showcase the sawpit method of cutting lumber and then moves into the reconstructed sawmill to show how the power of water was harnessed to improve the process. Brand new for 2022: roll up your sleeves and take part in life beyond the sawmill with engaging “Farming at Mill Creek” programs. Additionally, throughout the day, “Nature of the North Woods” programs will take place. These programs will vary and may include a guided nature walk, stories, and fun activities focused on plants and animals living at Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park!

Click here to find out what’s happening during your visit to Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park!

Adventure Tour

The Adventure Tour is a high-flying adventure through the treetops and above Mill Creek. The Adventure Tour consists of the Forest Canopy Bridge, the Eagles’ Flight Zip Line, and the Treetop Discovery Tower. Tours run every half hour during the operating season. Tickets can only be purchased upon arrival at Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park, and general admission is required. Some restrictions apply. Learn all about the Adventure Tour by clicking here. 

Exhibits

The Visitor’s Center and Millwright’s House have exhibits on the history of the site featuring archaeological artifacts.

Movie

A fifteen-minute program, The Power of the Water: The Mill Creek Story, is presented in the theater in the Visitor’s Center. It repeats every 15 minutes.

Hands-on Fun

Kids and adults will enjoy the Forest Friends Play Area with the Chickadee Zip Line and making birds sing on the Evergreen Trail’s Sounds of the Forest station. Live programs offer fun for all ages and the view from the top of the Treetop Discovery Tower is not to be missed!

Nature Trails

Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park features three miles of trails on 625 acres. Abundant wildflowers, amazing fungi, and scenic views change with every season. North Woods wildlife, including 130 bird species, a beaver colony, black bear, and bobcat have been seen here. Learn more from a naturalist during one of our “Nature of the North Woods” programs.

Watch the video below to see Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park in action!

 

Mackinac Island State Park

Mackinac Island State Park

Michigan’s first state park. 

This is Mackinac.

Mackinac Island State Park was established in 1895. For twenty years before that it had been Mackinac National Park, the United States’ second national park. Today, over eighty percent of Mackinac Island is State Park property, and most of this park land remains in its natural condition to be enjoyed.

mackinac-island-state-park-map-with-mile-markers-01A great variety of historic and natural resources provides something of interest for every Mackinac Island visitor. Historic landmarks, breathtaking vistas, spectacular rock formations, quiet forests and inspiring nature trails are just minutes away. The sites are accessible by foot or bike, rented horse or buggy, sightseeing carriages or horse-drawn taxi.

Highlights

Natural Wonders

Ancient seas, Ice Age glaciers, and 10,000 years of rising and falling lake levels formed Mackinac Island. In recent centuries the climate, erosion, and human activity have shaped the island.  Click here for a summary of the natural wonders of Mackinac Island State Park.

Historic Sites and Monuments

The park is filled with historic attractions. Fort Mackinac and the Historic Downtown sites are the most prominent, but there are many points of interest and monuments throughout the park. Click here for a summary of the Historic Sites and Monuments of Mackinac Island State Park.

Roads and Trails

Mackinac Island State Park contains 70.5 miles of signed and interpreted roads and trails. Some are paved, some are not. Some are shared by horses, bikes and walkers; others are best for hiking only. There are also over 50 interpretive panels throughout the park that describe the natural wonders and historic locations. Click here for a summary of the park’s trail system.

Native American Cultural History Trail

The Native American Cultural History Trail features six individual panels discussing the history and impact of Native Americans on the Great Lakes and is located along M-185, the road that encircles Mackinac Island.

 

 

Mackinac Island Botanical Trail

Weaving along the Arch Rock Bicycle Trail, the Mackinac Island Botanical Trail features seven turnouts with plantings and interpretive signs about the floral life on Mackinac Island. Benches are also scattered along the trail to allow visitors to sit and reflect on the natural beauty around them.

 

Fort Mackinac

Fort Mackinac

Iconic.

This is Mackinac. 

The cannon blasts, the rifles fire, the soldiers march and history comes alive. The oldest building in Michigan and 13 other historical structures boast exhibits explaining everything from military training and battles to medical treatments to family life within the fort.

More than just a military outpost, Fort Mackinac served as a home for soldiers and their families and eventually the headquarters for Mackinac National Park, where tourists to the island visited the great fortress on the bluff, much like they do today.

A link to a page for information to fire the Fort Mackinac cannon.

Highlights

Live Programs and Tours

A map and descriptions of buildings inside Fort Mackinac.

Click to enlarge.

Demonstrations and tours by costumed interpreters are scheduled throughout the day. Exciting programs taking place throughout the 2022 season include cannon and rifle firing demonstrations, the return of the popular drill program, a tour exploring the army of the 1880s, a detailed look at Mackinac during its time as a national park, a program exploring how the fort has changed over time, and a program dedicated to the women who called Fort Mackinac home.

Click the links below to find out what will be happening during your visit.

June 4 – September 4, 2022
September 5 – October 9, 2022
October 10 – October 23, 2022

Exhibits

All fourteen buildings in the fort are restored and open to the public. They are furnished with period settings highlighting the building’s particular function or a themed exhibit. Special exhibits include:

      • Mackinac, An Island Famous in These Regions on the second floor of the Soldier’s’ Barracks presents the full history of Mackinac Island. 
      • Military Medicine at Mackinac: 1780-1895 in the Post Hospital explores medical care at the fort and changing nineteenth-century medical practices. 
      • Kids’ Quarters features hands-on displays and interactive games.
      • Post Guardhouse explores 19th-century military justice with actual cases tried at the fort.
      • North Blockhouse plunges visitors back in time to the War of 1812 to experience the confusion, fear, and drama of the British capture of Fort Mackinac on July 17, 1812.
      • Office features period settings and gallery spaces interpreting the training and duties of Fort Mackinac’s officers.
      • Reading Room – brand new for 2022! This immersive space will allow you to explore popular titles of the 1880s, read the latest newspaper or periodical, and get a better understanding of what it was like to be a soldier in the 1880s and why the U.S. Army felt it was a good idea to have reading rooms within its forts. Check out a little sneak peek of what to expect in this new exhibit:

Movie

The Heritage of Mackinac is featured in the Post Commissary, providing an overview history of Mackinac. It repeats every 20 minutes.

Watch the video below to learn more about Fort Mackinac!

 

Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse

Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse

Made to be seen. 

This is Mackinac.

A point in the storm and a guiding beacon since 1889, Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse helped passing ships navigate through the treacherous waters of the Straits of Mackinac. Authentically restored quarters and exhibits, including the original lens, a chance to explore the second floor of the house, tours of the lighthouse tower, a movie, Shipwrecks of the Straits, and the Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Museum make this “Castle of the Straits” a true gem of the Great Lakes.

Highlights

Exhibits

A map and descriptions of buildings at Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse.

Click to enlarge.

The Keepers’ Quarters contains three rooms restored to their 1910 appearance and a gallery exhibit on the history of the lighthouse featuring hands-on displays and original artifacts. A new exhibit devoted to optics and lenses as well as sound and fog signals is located on the main floor of the house. On the second floor, a gallery space and two bedrooms restored to their appearance in 1910 tell the story of the Keeper George Marshall, his wife Maggie, and their extended family as they lived and worked at the lighthouse.

Movie

A fifteen-minute program, Shipwrecks of the Straits, is presented in the Barn. It repeats continuously.

Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Museum

Located in the reconstructed warehouse, this exhibit features audiovisual displays and a variety of original artifacts to tell the story of the numerous shipwrecks that dot the Straits of Mackinac.

Fog Signal Whistle

A demonstration of the Fog Signal Whistle, led by a costumed interpreter, will take place in front of the Fog Signal Building at 10:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m.

Tower Tours

Tours of the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse tower take place at scheduled times throughout the day. Space is limited to 10 people per tour, and tower tour times are assigned by the Guest Services Representative in the Fog Signal Building. Tours of the tower are offered at no charge, but are not guaranteed with admission. Certain restrictions apply to tours of the tower. Tower tours are offered at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:00 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. From June 4 – September 4, tours will also take place at 4:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Scheduled groups may limit tower tour availability – check with the Guest Services Representative upon arrival.

Watch the video below to see all that Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse has to offer!