Friday, August 3, 2012


The Mackinac Bridge joins Michigans Lower and Upper Peninsula

Everyone has heard of Mackinac Island. Situated between Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas, it's been a tourist haunt for over a hundred years, famed for it's Grand Hotel, horse drawn carriages, jetboat ferries and fudge.

But tucked away under the Mackinac Bridge on the lower peninsula is my favorite place to discover Michigan history––Colonial Michilimackinac. According to the Jesuit Relations, the odd name derives from the Mishinimaki or Mishinimakinagog, an Algonquin tribe that first occupied Mackinac Island.  This fort and fur trading post first built around 1715, was reconstructed according to fifty years of archeological evidence.

From colonial women cooking real meals over an open hearth, to Native Americans sitting outside their lodge, to the redcoat explaining why British soldiers were required to have at least two teeth in their mouth, and the fur trapper explaining why beaver pelts were valuable and where the term "mad hatter" came from––Colonial Michilimackinac's historical interpreters are fun and interesting. It's a great time for all ages.

Here's a video from the  
Colonial Michilimackinac website.

My own photos are below, along with a map. 

Michilimackinac was lost to the British in 1761 after the French and Indian War, but life continued on for those settled there. Even after a surprise attack by the local Ojibwe as part of Pontiac's Rebellion in June 1763, marriages went on during the year the Indians held the fort.
Married at Michilimackinac

The British regained Michilimackinac, but in 1781 they removed all its structures to Mackinac Island and burned the remains of the fort. Today Archeologists at Michilimackinac, dig for bits and pieces of French Michigan history.