Mackinac Island, USA


Looking down from the old fort, Mackinac Island, Mich
Postmarked 1908
Publisher: Detroit Publishing Co.

Google Street View.

Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island, Michigan was built by the British Army under the direction of Patrick Sinclair during the American Revolutionary War. Located on a bluff 150 feet above Mackinac Island Harbor, it replaced Fort Michilimackinac which had wooden palisades and was located on the shore of present day Mackinaw City. The Officers Stone Quarters, started in 1780 at Fort Mackinac, is the oldest building in the State of Michigan.
Fort Mackinac was turned over to the United States in 1796. But the fort and control of the Straits of Mackinac were recaptured without a battle during the War of 1812. British forces in Canada learned of the start of the war before the Americans and surprised the garrison with a much superior force of soldiers, European civilians and Native Americans on July 17, 1812. American forces attempted to recover the fort in 1814, but were defeated and also lost two sailing vessels used to blockade the harbor. Following the end of the war, Fort Mackinac was returned to the United States.
Straits of Mackinac & Mackinac Bridge: The Mighty Mac (also photos of island in 1918).

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.
Mackinac State Historic Parks

Text and images below from “A lake tour to picturesque Mackinac via the D. & C”, Detroit and Cleveland Steam Navigation Co., 1890

Bird’s eye view island of Mackinac

1. Fort Mackinac 2. Fort Holmes 3. Catholic Cemetery 4. Military Cemetery
5. Skull Cave 6. Quarry 1780 7. Limekiln 1780 8. Robinson’s Folly
9. Cliffs 10. Arch Rock 11. Sugar Loaf 12. Skull Rock
13. Battlefield 1814 14. Scott’s Cave 15. British Landing 16. Lover’s Leap
17. Devil’s Kitchen 18. Pontiac’s Lookout 19. Obelisk 20. Old Indian Burying Ground
21. Distillery, 1812 22. 1812 Plank’s Grand Hotel 23. Det. and Cleve Steam Nave Co’s Wharf

Mackinac Island

From Cheboygan the steamer makes the final course of her trip to Mackinac. The island at first appearing as a prolongation of its greater neighbor, Bois Blanc, rears its crest above the horizon, and illumed by the warm light of the afternoon sun seems floating in a gold and purple sea. Far to the left the open gates of the straits reveal the waters of Lake Michigan. Fleets of schooners and steam-freighters are passing in and out. As we gain upon the island, the white fort above the village and the long white hotel to the west- ward are defined. Then the little port itself, stretched along the graceful sweep of its strand, appears from behind its breakwater, Round Island, the bar is crossed, and with a long curve the steamer comes to her landing.

Old Mission Church

There is nothing else in the West like Mackinac. It has the look and flavor of some Acadian towns to be seen in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Low-browed, heavily built shops and houses, some of which, being removed to make way for modern stores and villas, show timber enough to build a small ship.

Windemere Cottage, Round Point, Mackinac

Scattered among these are a few pretty cottages, occupied by people from the cities during summers, while groups of more costly villas are ranged along the highland both to the right and left of the village. Schooners and local steamboats unloading lumber, coal and general supplies lend an air of commercial activity to the wharves

Plank’s Grand Hotel, Island of Mackinac

Carriages are waiting when the passengers troop ashore to convey them to Plank’s Grand Hotel half-a-mile westward. With the construction of this noble building, Mackinaw entered upon a new epoch in her history. While the former houses in the village still command the patronage of a large summer element, and share in the benefits of the im.petus given in late years to tourist travel hither, the “Grand” naturally constitutes the focal point of the delightful social events which follow each other rapidly during the season. . . . The edifice now stands, as originally planned, the finest caravansary in the North. It is 650 feet long, and five stories in height, surmounted by a tall tower, from which an expansive and uninterrupted view may be obtained. The architecture is of the ” Old Colonial” style, its distinctive feature being a colonnaded portico, upon which the windows of every floor open. This portico or veranda is 22 to 32 feet in width, and extends the entire length of the house, a magnificent promenade. From the large rotunda office opposite the main entrance, spacious halls, running the length of the building, lead to the breakfast room, dining hall, and ordinary, on one side, and to the reading and drawing rooms, and private parlors, on the other.

Fort Mackinac

Fort Mackinac, built by the English over a hundred years ago, stands on a rocky eminence just above the town, and is now garrisoned by a small company of U. S. troops, and mounted by a few cannon of small calibre.

At Fort Mackinac

There are various ways of reaching it from the village. Up the steps is probably the easiest,

Mackinac Village, as seen from the gun platform of the fort

and the combined marine and landscape view from the gun platform is magnificent. Below are seen the government stables, blacksmith’s shop, granary and company’s garden. On the battlements are the old block houses, pierced with port holes.

Parade Ground–Fort Mackinac

Within the enclosure are the officers’ quarters, guard-house, barracks, commissary and maga- zine, with the hospital building just outside. When built, the fort was enclosed by a palisade of cedar pickets, ten feet high, intended as a defense against Indians. To make it impossible to scale this palisade, each picket was protected at the top by sharp iron prongs, and by hooks outside.

British Landing, Island of Mackinac

A short distance down the road leading through this farm is British Landing where Captain Roberts disembarked his forces of English, French and Indians to take the island in 1812. The American troops, under Col. Croghan, also landed here in August, 1814, under cover of the guns of the squadron, and marched to the edge of the clearing (now Early’s farm), where the enemy were in waiting. In a few secondsa fire was opened upon him, and the woods on every side literally swarmed with savages. After a vigorous attempt to drive the enemy from their stronghold, he was obliged to retreat with the loss of Major Holmes and several men.

Fort Holmes, Mackinc Island & Fort Mackinc from the Obsevatory at Fort Holmes

Having made the circuit of the island, let us ascend to Fort Holems and seating ourselves look around from the high station built years ago by government engineers. We can see nearly every part of the island at our feet. The little clearings were once cultivated as gardens by American soldiers. . . . Thus elevated above all that surrounds it, the panorama before us would justify the epithet to Mackinac of “Queen of the Isles.” Up the straits are green islets peeping above the waters, in front, Round Island forms a beautiful foreground, while Bois Blanc, with its light-house, stretch away to the east, and to the north are other islands which complete the archipelago.

Leave a Reply