Twilight Turtle Trek

Mackinac Island Turtle Trek – A lantern-lit ski and snowshoeing trek through some of Mackinac Island’s natural winter wonderland. The trail begins at Greany Grove (corner of Arch Rock Road and Huron Road) with a bonfire and hot chocolate. The trail is groomed, track set, lit by lanterns and approximately two miles long. This is a free event sponsored by Mackinac State Historic Parks, Mackinac Island Community Foundation and the Mackinac Island Ski Club.

British Landing Nature Programs – Scat Identification

Learn how to identify different scat left by various animals in Michigan. Learn how to figure out what the animal ate last. Do you know the difference between buck and doe scat? You will!

Program will take place at the podium and bench area adjacent to the south side of the British Landing Nature.Seating is first come first serve (you don’t have to be sitting in order to enjoy the program). The program will be about 15 minutes. This is a free Mackinac Parks: 125 event!

The program will be lead by ranger Emily Kimmel, a recent graduate from Lake Superior State University with a degrees in Parks and Recreation and Natural Resource Technologies. She is in her first season serving as the Naturalist for Mackinac State Historic Parks on Mackinac Island.

British Landing Nature Programs – Tree Identification

Learn how to identify various trees on Mackinac Island and the different purposes they have for the animals as well as people. It will be a short 20 minute hike through the British Landing Trail. The group will be making a stop at Friendship’s Alter as well.

Meet in front of the British Landing Nature Center and the walk will start at 1:30 p.m. sharp. Trail is narrow and there are lots of roots on the trail. Not wheelchair accessible. This is a free Mackinac Parks: 125 event!

The program will be lead by ranger Emily Kimmel, a recent graduate from Lake Superior State University with a degrees in Parks and Recreation and Natural Resource Technologies. She is in her first season serving as the Naturalist for Mackinac State Historic Parks on Mackinac Island.

Workshops at the Museum

Presented by the Mackinac Arts Council. Join local and regional artists as they share their art expertise. 2020 workshops take place in Marquette Park on the lawn outside The Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum. Supplies are provided, but you may also bring your own. Class sizes are limited – early registration is recommended through the Mackinac Arts Council.

All workshops cost $20 per day unless otherwise noted. Discounts are available for students and Mackinac Island summer employees. Workshops are held after regular museum hours.

Workshop Schedule:

July 6 – Acrylics with Maria Sych
July 13 – Plein Air with Maeve Croghan
July 20 – Metal Punch with Megan Kromer
July 29 – Acrylic Studio with Maria Sych
August 5 – Instagram with Sara Wright
August 12 – Plein Air with Maeve Croghan
August 21 – Intercontinental Biennial of Indienous Art

A Model 1884 Springfield Rifle

The .45-70 Springfield Rifle.

The Buffington sight. A second adjustment screw (not visible) swiveled the entire sight left or right.

During the summer months, visitors to Fort Mackinac are able to see a real piece of history in action every single day. Historical interpreters representing soldiers from the 23rd Regiment of Infantry perform rifle firing and drill demonstrations throughout the day. The weapons they carry, the .45-70 Springfield rifle, are all 19th century originals, making them at least 130 years old. Let’s take a closer look at one of these fascinating weapons.


Introduced in 1873, the .45-70 remained the standard issue arm of the American army for 20 years. A single-shot weapon, the rifle derived its name from the cartridge it fired: a .45 caliber bullet propelled by 70 grains of black powder. Over the course of its service life, the army refined the rifle several times, making almost yearly changes to the design to reflect the realities of daily use and at the suggestion of officers and enlisted men. Only rarely did these design changes cumulatively result in the designation of a new model, but in 1884 the army approved a “new” design incorporating improved features.


The improved cleaning rod, with tapered button tip.

Note the knurling on the trigger and on the hammer.

This Model 1884 displays many of these design elements. The two most prominent “new” features are the sight and the cleaning rod. The sight, designed by Lt. Col. A.R. Buffington of the Ordnance Department, includes a leaf that can be flipped up and adjusted to sight the weapon at ranges up to 1,400 yards. It also includes an adjustment screw to compensate for windage- by turning it, the entire vertical leaf swivels right or left. The cleaning rod, meanwhile, incorporates the flared button head adopted in 1879 and put into widespread production in 1882. The breechblock is stamped U.S. MODEL 1884, although in reality these stamps were not added to new rifles until 1886, and weapons marked this way did not enter widespread service until 1887. The rest of the rifle incorporates several other design improvements adopted over the years, such as knurling on the trigger and hammer, which was intended to improve a soldier’s fingertip grip on these critical pieces.


The star symbol stamped next to the serial number (it looks like a flower) indicates that this rifle was probably rebuilt at an arsenal at some point.

The rifle’s breech in the open position. When opened after firing, the weapon automatically ejected the spent cartridge, allowing a soldier to quickly reload.

This particular rifle has a serial number in the 141000 range, indicating that it was probably originally produced in 1879 or 1880. How, then, can it incorporate features only authorized in 1884, and not actually put into service for a few more years? The small five-pointed star or flower next to the serial number most likely indicates that this weapon is an arsenal rebuilt. In 1879 the Springfield Armory began collecting older .45-70 rifles and using some of the parts to build new weapons, which were held in reserve or eventually issued to various state units (the forerunners to the National Guard). Furthermore, since the rifles were built using entirely interchangeable parts, after the weapons left frontline military service and entered the civilian market (which many did- they are still relatively easy for collectors to obtain) it was simple for gun brokers and owners to cobble together “new” weapons with a mixture of parts from different model years.


In any case, this rifle, and the others in daily use at Fort Mackinac, are truly history that you can see, smell, hear, and touch. Our interpreters carry rifles of both the 1873 and 1884 models, with many of the small variations added each year. We even have a few rifles equipped with ramrod bayonets, an experimental design attempted on three different occasions in the 1880s. These weapons had a small, sharpened metal dowel mounted under the barrel in lieu of a cleaning rod in an effort to eliminate the need for soldiers to carry a separate bayonet and scabbard. Historically, one of the two companies of the 23rd Infantry stationed at Fort Mackinac from 1884 to 1890 were issued the experimental ramrod bayonet rifles for evaluation. When you visit us at Fort Mackinac, be sure to ask the interpreters about their rifles- they’re a fascinating link to the past!

Fort2Fort Five Mile Challenge


The fifth annual Fort2Fort Five Mile Challenge will start at Fort Mackinac at 9:00 a.m. and passes all of the historic and natural wonders Mackinac Island State Park has to offer! This challenging but fun course starts runners inside iconic Fort Mackinac then passes by Arch Rock, the Mackinac Island Service Camp Scout Barracks, Sugarloaf Rock, Point Lookout, the Mackinac Island cemeteries including the historic Post Cemetery, Fort Holmes (where runners will be greeted by a Musket blast from a War of 1812 soldier), and finally winds down by the Michigan Governor’s Summer Residence and finishes outside Fort Mackinac. #thisismackinac #runmackinac


Island History Series: Fudge – Mackinac’s Sweet Souvenir

Mackinac Island and fudge. Both symbolize indulgence, fantasy and escape. But there’s more to fudge than sugar, butter, chocolate and cream. Join Phil Porter, Mackinac State Historic Parks Director and Chief Fudge Taster, as he explores the history of Mackinac’s most delicious souvenir. Presented at the Station 256 Conference Room. This is a free Mackinac Parks: 125 event!

Island History Series: Mackinac Island’s Influence on the Civil War

For this entry into our “Island History Series,” Mackinac State Historic Parks Registrar Brian Jaeschke will offer a look at the military post of Fort Mackinac and the officers at the fort prior to the civil war, the event of the fort becoming a prison for three confederate sympathizers, a profile of Sgt. William Marshall, the longest serving officer at Fort Mackinac, the lives of Mackinac Island residents who served in the war, and the post-war army and the Grand Army of the Republic on the island. This is a FREE Mackinac Parks: 125 event, presented by the Mackinac Island Community Foundation!