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Fort Michilimackinac

Faced with another beautiful day and what were we to do? One could get used to this. We made the drive to Mackinaw City early to avoid traffic, but we took the back roads, too, and that's where we found all means of animal life—horses, deer, and even a coyote. I don't know why anybody would take the main roads, but I suppose that's why they call them main roads, and it's because everyone takes them that we are able to enjoy the more rural routes alone. 

The Mackinac Bridge—overlooked by many who think only of San Francisco when suspension bridges are mentioned—is the largest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere, the third largest in the world. Even on a misty morning it is beautiful in the early light, the lake still a dusky gray, the upper peninsula hidden from sight by a dense fog. The land under the bridge on the lower peninsula side is Colonial Michilimackinac State Park, a much better choice than overpriced hotels or luxury condominiums. Visiting as often as we do, we are more like locals in the sense that we don't come solely to take in the big sights, and that means I haven't visited the state parks or historical spots since I was quite young.

The old fort on the park grounds was once the protector of the straights, the gateway to the west, in fact, during that era. Built originally in the 18th century by the French as a headquarters for the fur trade, it was later taken over by the British, then briefly by the Native Americans, then back to the British, and finally was dismantled and moved to the Island to avoid capture by the renegade colonists during the Revolutionary War. 

The site of the original fort was reserved first as a local park as long ago as 1857, and later became protected as state ground. Reconstruction began in the 1930s, but was removed and re-reconstructed, this time more authentically, in the 1960s. Archeological study of the site has been ongoing since then and reconstruction continues. I know it's bigger than when I was last there. And we got to see them working in the current dig site, where they uncovered an animal skull while we watched and brought it over for Calvin to get a good look, but our interest this time was less in the growth of reconstruction, more in the history of the fort, and thereby our state.

We watched them cooking and learned about their meals of sausages, pickled meats, fish, potatoes, radishes, and whatever other garden fare was available season-wise. We watched a young lady spinning thread with a drop spindle. We hob-nobbed with redcoats. We did a turn on the upper walk of the palisade and watched a loud demonstration with a cannon. We toured the trader's house with its pelts and other stock, a church, the priest's house, the powder magazine, and the soldier's barracks among other things.

After enjoying the fort and grabbing a quick bite to eat in the shade with a view of the bridge in the background, we walked the historic footpath along the shores of the Straits of Mackinac. We enjoyed the bridge, we toed the water, and we looked at the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse before we set out for home via a different back route that took us through Wilderness State Park and gave us another chance to swim at our favorite beach spot.

For more information:

Colonial Michilimackinac (and other Mackinac attractions)

Mackinac Bridge

Wilderness State Park


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Reader Comments (2)

Thanks for linking up! What great pics, def did look like a beautiful Day!!
July 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Altman
Looks like lots of fun!
Hopping from Friday Filed Trip!
July 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElena

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