Day eight began with a short drive to the Mackinac bridge. At one time this was the longest suspension bridge in the world. The island, straights, and bridge are named “Mackinac,” with the French spelling. The fort and the city in the lower peninsula are named “Mackinaw,” with the English spelling. The bridge marks the dividing line between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.
A 20-minute boat ride brought us from Mackinaw City to the port on Mackinac Island. Coming into port you can see the fort above the town. There are very few motorized vehicles allowed on the island. Most transportation, including the hauling of trash and cargo is pulled by horses.
You can see main street here. There is a booming business in bicycle rentals. Walking, biking, and horse-drawn carriages are the only modes of transportation on the island. There are more fudge shops than people, I think.
We began our day on the island with an informative, horse-drawn tour.
One of our first stops on the tour was the butterfly center. It was small but nice.
Our next stop was at Arch Rock, which was picturesque, but had no historical significance. Along we way we passed the old post cemetery and the old fort’s rifle range.
We exited the tour at Ft. Mackinac, which is the main thing I wanted to see. During the Seven Years War (French and Indian War), the British dismantled the fort in what is now Mackinaw City and moved it to a more defensible position on the cliffs overlooking the harbor on the island. The fort was handed over to the US after the American Revolution. After the War of 1812 began, the British landed on the north side of the island with 40 soldiers and 500 or more French Voyageurs and Indians. They took the fort from the garrison of about 50 soldiers without firing a shot. After the War of 1812, the upper Great Lakes was returned to the US. The fort saw no action during the Civil War. In the 1880s, the fort was used by the Army as the headquarters for the national park on the island, garrisoned by two companies. The fort was abandoned by the Army when the national park was turned over to the State of Michigan to become a state park.
There were a number of excellent displays throughout the fort, like the one shown above. This was probably the nicest presentation of a fort I’ve ever seen, with the exception of perhaps Ticonderoga. There were numerous displays like this one in just about every building.
The presentations at the fort tend to focus on the 1860s and 1880’s period, rather than the French and Indian Wars or War of 1812 periods. Note the docents in period uniforms from two distinctly different eras.
The thing Sam wanted to see that day was the opulence of The Grand Hotel. This hotel was originally built by a consortium of steamship tour operators and train operators. They wanted to create a destination that would encourage people to take the train and boat to visit. The entire hotel was built in 93 days. It was featured in the Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour movie Somewhere in Time.
Sam enjoyed looking around the hotel. She said that she could tolerate having to live there for a couple of months.
The view from the porch, reputedly the longest in the world, was quite nice. The stature on the left is that of Father Marquette the explorer and missionary.
In addition to the fort, there were a number of other historical buildings on the island to explore.
What Tom wanted to see was the Jack Pines Lumberjack show in Mackinaw City. It was fun. The events were largely the same as the Timber Tina show we saw last year in Maine, but there were a few new ones.
The audience was divided into two groups, each cheering for a lumberjack. Ours won.
After the lumberjack show we drove two hours to Houghton Lake and checked into our cabin for the week. We were keyed up from the day and the drive, so we relaxed for a little while with the end of the third Indiana Jones movie before bed.