Mackinac Island sits in the Straights of Mackinac. You can only arrive there by boat. We took the Hydro-Jet Ferry.
It took us under the Mackinac Bridge:
The island has been a popular tourist get-a-way since the 1840’s. Before that, it was a major trading post between the Indians and European settlers. At that time the only means of transportation on the island was the horse and wagon. By the 1900’s the fur trade subsided, and tourism became the main form of revenue. With the advent of the horseless carriage the residents passed a law that these new fangled devises would not be allowed on the island. Hence, with the exception of a firetruck, ambulance, and police car, there are no motor vehicles on Mackinac Island.
Main street is lined with tourist traps and restaurants. We took a buggy ride for a different view.
Most of the island is preserved forest, part of the State Park
The main attraction of the island is the Fort. Dismantled by the British piece by piece from Mackinaw City, it was reassembled and enhanced on the island, which provided a better defense from the American rebel gunboats.
It has a commanding view:
No battles took place on the island during the Revolution. At the conclusion of the war, the new United States received all of the British occupied land, including this fort. However, at the end of the rebellion, the continental soldiers left the army to return to their farms. This left an army of only about 50 men, not enough to send a detachment all the way up to the Great Lakes. As a result, even though the fort now belong to the US, the British remained here for another 18 years, until 1796, when Colonial soldiers arrived. The British moved only a short distance away, as they had other forts across the lakes in Canada. There again, this fort was used mostly for trading with the Indians.
As you know, the peace between England and the United States was short lived with the beginning of the War of 1812. However, no one informed the American Commander of Fort Mackinac that the war had begun. (I don’t know why they just didn’t call him.)
During the night, the British sailed down the lake, came ashore on Mackinac Island, went to the rear of the fort with their cannons poised. At sunrise, the British Commander knocked on the fort door and inquired if the Americans wanted to defend the fort. The American Commander, seeing he was vastly outnumbered, plus his cannons were facing the wrong direction, determined that discretion is the better part of valor and surrendered the fort.
This, therefore, was the first land engagement of the War of 1812. Once during the war the Americans tried to retake the fort, but were unsuccessful. At the conclusion of the war the fort, again, was returned to the United States. The Island became a National Park, the second after Yellowstone. At the request of the State of Michigan, the Island was turned over to them and became Michigan’s first State Park.
The park hosts interpreters to tell you the history of the fort and life of the soldier and his family.
They had a cannon firing demonstration.
And that is how we spent the day.
I leave you with this thought:
We have now been traveling over 4 months and each day brings a new challenge. Today’s challenge is wind. On our way up to Mackinaw City there were numerous billboards about the Mackinac Bridge. Some of them warned you that the bridge was subject to high winds and use caution. Some informed you that if you were uncomfortable driving the bridge that you could have their driver drive you across at no charge.
With all these signs posted, would you be concerned driving a 40 ft. long 13 ft. high trailer? Your darn right. However, the entire time up to tonight there were no winds, and therefore no concerns. Tonight things changed. As I write this it is raining with high winds. We are scheduled to leave tomorrow morning with reservations on the Upper Peninsula. I am sure I will sleep good tonight. However, if there are no further posts, you know we went into the drink and didn’t make it.