The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

The Magic Island of Mackinac

As I mentioned in the last post, I was unable to find RV reservations within a reasonable distance from Pictured Rocks in Munising so we decided to go with plan B and go to Mackinac Island. Now don't get the idea that this was a huge letdown because Mackinac Island is a pretty wonderful destination all on its own. You can catch a ferry from Mackinaw City south of the Mackinaw bridge or from St. Ignace on the U.P. side and there about three ferry companies in each location. Check the Internet for special deals and departure times. We rode over with Shepler's Ferry.  By the way, no spelling error here....Mackinac Island is spelled different from Mackinaw City but they are both pronounced "naw" at the end. The city wanted to eliminate any problems with postal identification so spelled it differently.

Due to the time we left, we got a little extra benefit to our ride as our departure time included a trip under the Mackinaw Bridge.


Okay, this is my first selfie so don't laugh.

The actual ride to Mackinac Island is short....about 20 minutes max. These are scenes as we approached the island.




The last time I was here was over 45 years ago so yes, some things have changed. There is a lot more here than last time but no, you still cannot bring a car or ride in one on the island. Once on the island, you will walk, ride a bike, ride a horse, or ride in a carriage.....no cars!  The Indians were the first summer visitors to Mackinac Island only they called it Machilimackinac which means "place of the great turtle.

Next in 1670 came Father Claude Dablon who established a Christian mission. A year later, he moved it to the current location of St. Ignace and then, in 1708, he moved it to the south shore near the present day Mackinaw City. French soldiers constructed Ft. Michilimackinaw which was a strategic outpost for the upper Great Lakes fur trade.  British soldiers took in over in1761 after their victory in the Seven Years War. During the American Revolution, British soldiers disassembled the fort and moved it to Mackinac Island. When the Americans won and took over. In 1812, the British took the island back but negotiations won it back after the war ended in 1814. During the Civil War, the island was abandoned but the soldiers returned after the end of the war along with crowds of tourists.

Mackinac Island National Park was created in 1875 as the second national park only 3 years after the establishment of Yellowstone National Park. There seemed to be a lot more businesses than there were on my visit so long ago.

By the 1920's, fudge was firmly established as the number one sweet souvenir. There are more than a dozen fudge shops today.

In the 1890s, the soldiers left and Mackinac Island was transferred to Michigan and became the first Michigan State Park. About 80% of the island is under the protection of the state park.


You can see both fudge and salt water taffy being made in numerous stores.

We saw the carriages and decided that a carriage ride was the way to see the island for us.

Lots of people choose to bike and there are a number of bike rental places.


This is the post office for the island. The postmen won't be trekking your mail around....you must come and pick it up.

This is the Stuart House built in 1817. Robert Stuart was the resident manager for the northern departmental headquarters of the American Fur Company established by John Jacob Aster. The business prospered under his management shipping over $3 million in furs in 1822. Today it is a museum.

This is the Aster Warehouse where an army of clerks processed fur pelts such as mink, muskrat, otter, and beaver. The furs were graded then cleaned and pressed into bales for shipment east. Today it is a Community Hall with City Offices on the second floor.


This is the Lilac House and, although it is definitely not lilac season, you can smell the lilacs in the air so there is some good air freshening going on.


Here we are setting out on our carriage ride. The teams are driven and cared for by their driver who is often a college student. They become pretty attached to their team by the end of the summer.

Parking lots are for bikes instead of cars since there are no cars.


Many of the houses are Bed and Breakfasts while local citizens generally live a bit further away from the tourist crowds.


This is the Little Stone Congregational Church. It is only open during the tourist season and hosts lots of weddings.


Here we are coming up to the Grand Hotel, one of the island's principal landmarks. It was built in 1887 to accommodate the swell of summer visitors. Gentlemen are still required to wear ties and jackets at dinner. There is an admission fee to enter the grounds for anyone not registered as a guest.

The 1947 film "This Time For Keeps" with Esther Williams and Jimmy Durante was filmed here as was "Somewhere In Time" with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeves in 1979,




The first half of our carriage ride to us this far where we got out to see the museum.





For an extra price, you can visit the Butterfly House.

When we were done, we got on another carriage for the second half of the tour. This was a bigger carriage pulled by three horses.

The driver told us his team was called "The Mafia". Each team had a name.

Now we toured the State Park area.

There are three cemeteries located here: Protestant, Post, and Catholic. The earliest burials in the Post Cemetery date to the mid-1820s with only 40 of the 108 graves identified by name. This cemetery was closed for burials when the fort was abandoned in 1895.



A through the woods view of Fort Mackinac.

Both of our tour guides were very good and obviously loved their jobs and their teams.

Arch Rock rises 146 feet above the water and spans 50 feet at it's widest point.

While geologists will tell you it was formed when wind and water eroded the soft rock below, legend has it that a beautiful young Indian woman named Ne-da-niss met a handson young man who was the son of a sky spirit while she was gathering wild rise. They fell in love but she was forbidden to marry the non-mortal by her cruel father who beat her and tied her to a rock high on a bluff. She wept for her lover and her tears washed away the stone and formed the arch. Her lover returned and rescued her and together they returned to the home of his sky people.




See all the holes in the tree in the center that were left by woodpeckers?




We had the option to get off here and tour the fort but we didn't have sufficient time to justify the entry fee. You could spend quite a few hours touring this fort.


The horses wait patiently while you stop to look at things.

Next up, the Michigan Governor's Summer Residence. While renovations and restorations are not state funded, it would seem that significant funds are needed to maintain the house year round.


View down the hill towards the lighthouse.



You can ride back to the museum and go back on the two horse carriages for the same price or walk down the hill to the main street from here. The bigger three horse carriages don't go to the main street.

View of part of the fort.


You can also enter the Fort from the front side.


This is the Bark Chapel.

View of Fort Mackinac from Marquette Park below.

Lots of boats in the marina.



Another museum with guide in period dress.




Heading back toward the main part of town.
 
We had a very good time at Mackinac Island and didn't feel like it was second choice at all. I recommend arriving early and spending the entire day and you still will have things to see on a second visit. Some people come over for the nightlife and others spend a day or two in one of the lodging.

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