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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Native name: Michilimackinac
Mackinac Island topographic map-en.svg
Topographic map of Mackinac island
Mackinac Island is located in Michigan
Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island (Michigan)
Location Lake Huron
Coordinates 45°51′40″N 84°37′50″W / 45.86111°N 84.63056°W / 45.86111; -84.63056Coordinates: 45°51′40″N 84°37′50″W / 45.86111°N 84.63056°W / 45.86111; -84.63056
Total islands Three
Major islands Mackinac, Bois Blanc, Round
Area 3.776 sq mi (9.780 km2)
Coastline 8 mi (13 km)
Highest point Fort Holmes (890 ft/271 m)
United States
State Michigan
Largest city Mackinac Island (pop. 523)
County Mackinac County
Population 523 residents and as many as 15,000 tourists per day during peak season (as of 2000)
Density 53.48 /km2 (138.5 /sq mi)
Mackinac Island
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Historic Landmark District
Bikers on M-185 (Main Street) at mile marker 0 in downtown Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island is located in Michigan
Location: Mackinac Island, Michigan
Coordinates: 45°51′45″N 84°37′51″W / 45.8625°N 84.63083°W / 45.8625; -84.63083Coordinates: 45°51′45″N 84°37′51″W / 45.8625°N 84.63083°W / 45.8625; -84.63083
Architect: Unknown
Architectural style(s): No Style Listed
Governing body: State
Added to NRHP: October 15, 1966
Designated NHLD: October 9, 1960[2]
NRHP Reference#: 66000397


Mackinac Island (pronounced /ˈmækɨnɔː/ MAK-in-aw) is an island covering 3.8 square miles (9.8 km2) in land area, part of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is located in Lake Huron, at the eastern end of the Straits of Mackinac, between the state's Upper and Lower Peninsulas.[3] The island was home to a Native American settlement before European exploration began in the 17th century. It served a strategic position amidst the commerce of the Great Lakes fur trade. This led to the establishment of Fort Mackinac on the island by the British during the American Revolutionary War. It was the scene of two battles during the War of 1812.[4]

In the late 19th century, Mackinac Island became a popular tourist attraction and summer colony. Much of the island has undergone extensive historical preservation and restoration; as a result, the entire island is listed as a National Historic Landmark. It is well known for its numerous cultural events; its wide variety of architectural styles, including the famous Victorian Grand Hotel; and its ban on almost all motor vehicles. More than 80 percent of the island is preserved as Mackinac Island State Park.[5]



An Arnold Line high-speed catamaran used to transport people to and from the island

Mackinac Island is about 8 miles (13 km) in circumference and 3.8 square miles (9.8 km2) in total area.[3] The highest point of the island is the historic Fort Holmes (originally called Fort George by the British before 1815), which is 320 feet (98 m) above the lake level and 890 feet (271 m) above sea level.[6] According to the 2000 census, the island has a year-round population of 523.[7] The population grows considerably during the summer as hotels, restaurants, bars and retail shops, open only during the summer season, hire short-term employees to accommodate as many as 15,000 visitors per day.[8][9]

Two of the modes of transport on Mackinac Island, horse-drawn carriages and bicycles.

The island can be reached by private boat, by ferry, by small aircraft, and in the winter, by snowmobile. The airport has a 3,500 feet (1,070 m) paved runway, and charter air service from the mainland is available.[10] In the summer tourist season, ferry service is available from Arnold Transit Company, Shepler's Ferry, and Star Line Ferry to shuttle visitors to the island from St. Ignace and Mackinaw City.[11]

Motorized vehicles have been prohibited on the island since 1898, with the exception of snowmobiles during winter, emergency vehicles, and service vehicles. Travel on the island is either by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage. Roller skates and roller blades are also allowed, except in the downtown area. Bicycles, roller skates/roller blades, carriages, and saddle horses are available for rent. An 8-mile (13 km) road follows the island's perimeter, and numerous roads, trails and paths cover the interior.[12] The road encircling the island and closely hugging the shoreline is M-185, the United States' only state highway without motorized vehicles.[13]

The island is the location of Mackinac Island State Park, which covers approximately 80 percent of the island and includes Fort Mackinac as well as portions of the island's historic downtown and harbor. No camping is allowed on the island, but numerous hotels and bed and breakfasts are available.[11][14]

The downtown streets are lined with many retail stores, candy shops, and restaurants. A popular item at the candy shops is the locally produced and nationally known "Mackinac Island fudge", leading to tourists sometimes being referred to as "fudgies". Many shops sell a variety of fudge, and some of the confectioners have been operating for more than a century. The popularity of the fudge has led to the sales and marketing of Mackinac Island fudge not only throughout Michigan, but outside the state of Michigan as well.[15][16]


Historical Marker at British Landing

Archaeologists have excavated prehistoric fishing camps on Mackinac Island and in the surrounding areas. Fishhooks, pottery, and other artifacts establish a Native American presence at least 700 years before European exploration, around AD 900. The island is a sacred place in the tradition of some of its earliest known inhabitants, the Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) tribes, who consider it to be home to the Gitche Manitou, or the "Great Spirit".[17] According to legend, Mackinac Island was created by the Great Hare, Michabou and was the first land to appear after the recession of the Great Flood.[18] The island was a gathering place for the local tribes where their offerings were made to Gitche Manitou and was where tribal chiefs were buried.

The first European likely to have seen Mackinac Island is Jean Nicolet, a French-Canadian coureur de bois, during his 1634 explorations. The Jesuit priest Claude Dablon founded a mission for the Native Americans on Mackinac Island in 1670, and stayed over the winter of 1670-71. Dablon's fall 1671 successor, the missionary and explorer Jacques Marquette, moved the mission to St. Ignace soon after his arrival.[19][20] With the mission as a focus, the Straits of Mackinac quickly became an important French fur trading location. The British took control of the Straits of Mackinac after the French and Indian War and Major Patrick Sinclair chose the bluffs of the island for Fort Mackinac in 1780.[4][17]

Although the British built Fort Mackinac to protect their settlement from attack by French-Canadians and native tribes, the fort was never attacked during the American Revolutionary War and the entire Straits area was officially acquired by the United States through the Treaty of Paris in 1783. However, much of the British forces did not leave the Great Lakes area until after Jay's Treaty established U.S. sovereignty over the entire Northwest Territory in 1794.[21] During the War of 1812, the British captured the fort in the first battle of the conflict because the Americans had not yet heard that war had been declared. The victorious British attempted to protect their prize by building Fort George on the high ground behind Fort Mackinac. In 1814, the Americans and British fought a second battle on the north side of the island. The American second-in-command, Major Andrew Hunter Holmes, was killed and the Americans failed to recapture the island.

The statue of Père Jacques Marquette — Jesuit Priest and Great Lakes explorer in front of Fort Mackinac

Despite this outcome, the Treaty of Ghent forced the British to return the island and surrounding mainland to the U.S. in 1815. The United States reoccupied Fort Mackinac, and renamed Fort George Fort Holmes, after Major Holmes.[4][6] Fort Mackinac remained under the control of the United States government until 1895 and provided volunteers to defend the Union during the American Civil War. The fort even served as a prison for three Confederate sympathizers.[17]

John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company was centered on Mackinac Island after the War of 1812 and exported beaver pelts for thirty years. By the middle of the 19th century, commercial fishing for whitefish and lake trout began to replace the fur trade as the island's primary industry. As sport fishing became more popular in the 1880s, hotels and restaurants accommodated tourists coming by train or lake boat from Detroit and similar cities.[4]

Following the Civil War, the island became a popular tourist destination for residents of cities on the Great Lakes. Much of the federal land on Mackinac Island was designated as Mackinac National Park in 1875, just three years after Yellowstone was designated as the first national park. To accommodate an influx of tourists in the 1880s, the boat and railroad companies built hotels, including the Grand Hotel. Souvenir shops began to spring up as a way for island residents to profit from the tourists. Many wealthy industrialists built summer cottages along the island's bluffs for extended stays. When the federal government left the island in 1895, all of the federal land, including Fort Mackinac, was given to the state of Michigan and became Michigan's first state park. The Mackinac Island State Park Commission appointed to oversee the island has limited private development in the park and requires leaseholders to maintain the island's distinctive Victorian architecture.[5][22]

Motor vehicles were restricted at the end of the 19th century because of concerns for the health and safety of the island's residents and horses after local carriage drivers complained that automobiles startled their horses. This ban continues to the present with exceptions only for emergency and construction vehicles.[17][23]



Like many historic places in the Great Lakes region, Mackinac Island's name derives from a Native American language. Native Americans in the Straits of Mackinac region likened the shape of the island to that of a turtle. Therefore, they named it "Mitchimakinak" (Ojibwe mishi-mikinaak)[24] meaning "big turtle". The French used a version of the original pronunciation: Michilimackinac. However, the English shortened it to the present name: "Mackinac."[25][26]

Historic places

Village and harbor
Fort Mackinac in 2004

All of Mackinac Island was listed as a National Historic Landmark in October 1960. In addition, because of the island's long history and preservation efforts starting in the 1890s, eight separate locations on the island, and a ninth site on adjacent Round Island, are listed in the United States National Register of Historic Places.[17]

  • Fort Mackinac was built in 1780 and was closed as a fort in 1895 as it no longer had any strategic purpose. It has been restored to its late 19th century state through efforts beginning in the 1930s.[27][28]
  • The Biddle House, one of the oldest strctures on Mackinac Island, was built about 1780 and is interpreted in its role as a prosperous family home during the height of the fur trade in the 1820s.[29][30]
  • The McGulpin House, a working-class home possibly constructed prior to 1780, is interpreted as a frontier working-class home.[29]
  • The Indian Dormitory was constructed under direction of US Indian agent Henry Rowe Schoolcraft after the signing of the 1836 Treaty of Washington, as a school and a place for Native Americans visiting the island to stay when receiving yearly allotments. The building was restored in 1966 and converted to a museum. It has not been open to the public since 2003. Extensive renovation is needed, but there are no plans to reopen it in the next few years.[34]
  • Mission Church was built in 1829 and is the oldest surviving church building in Michigan. Restoration efforts have returned the church to its 1830s appearance.[35]
  • Mission House was built in 1825 as a boarding school for Native American children. It became a hotel in 1849 and a rooming house in 1939. It is restored and now houses State Park employees.[36]
  • The Round Island Lighthouse is located just south of the island on the small, uninhabited Round Island. The light was built in 1894 and automated in 1924. Extensive restoration efforts began in the 1970s and the exterior and structure have since been repaired.[37]
  • The Agency House of the American Fur Company was built in 1820 as the home for the company's Mackinac Island agent, Robert Stuart. It is now open to the public as a fur trade museum.[38]
  • The entire island, Haldimand Bay, and a small shipwreck form a historic district.[3][31]


The famous Grand Hotel.
A view of the island atop the Fort.

Mackinac Island is home to many cultural events, including an annual show of American art from the Masco collection of 19th-century works at the Grand Hotel. There are at least five art galleries on the island.[40] Mackinac Island has been the setting of two feature films: This Time for Keeps in 1946 and Somewhere in Time, filmed at the Grand Hotel and various other locations on the island in 1979.[41] Mackinac Island has been written about and visited by many influential writers including Alexis De Tocqueville, Margaret Fuller, Henry David Thoreau, Edward Everett Hale, Mark Twain, Bill Bryson, and Constance Fenimore Woolson. Favorable growing conditions have allowed lilacs to thrive on the island. Since 1949, the island's residents have been celebrating the lilacs with an annual 10-day festival, culminating in a horse-drawn parade that has been recognized as a local legacy event by the Library of Congress.[42][43][44][45][46][47]

Most of the buildings on Mackinac Island are built of wood, a few are of stone, and most have clapboard siding.[3] The architectural styles on the island span 300 years, from the earliest Native American structures to the styles of the 19th century. The earliest structures were built by the Anishinaabe, Ojibwe, and Chippewa tribes before European exploration. At least two buildings still exist from the original French settlement in the late 18th century, making Mackinac Island the only example of northern French rustic architecture in the United States, and one of few survivors in North America. Fort Mackinac, with its whitewashed stone walls instead of the more traditional wood, is a European adaptation of Islamic military architecture. Mackinac Island also contains examples of Federalist, Colonial, and Greek revival styles. Much of the island, however, is built in the style of the Victorian era which includes Gothic Revival, Stick style, Italianate, Second Empire, Richardson Romanesque and Queen Anne styles. The most recent styles used on the island date from the late 1800s to the 1930s and include the Colonial and Tudor revival styles.[48]

The island's newspaper is the Mackinac Island Town Crier, owned and operated by Wesley H. Maurer Sr. and his family since 1957 as training for journalism students.[49] It is published weekly from May through September and bimonthly during the rest of the year.[50]

Honor Scouts

A replica of the Statue of Liberty donated by the Boy Scouts of America in the historic Haldimand Bay on Mackinac Island

Every summer, Mackinac Island accommodates up to 54 Michigan Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and their leaders over alternate weeks. These scouts serve the state as the Mackinac Island Governor's Honor Guard. The program began in 1929, when the State Park Commission invited eight Eagle Scouts, including young Gerald Ford, to serve as honor guards for the Michigan governor. In 1974, the program was expanded to include Girl Scouts. The program is popular, selective, and a long standing tradition. Scouts raise and lower all of the flags in the city and in Fort Mackinac, serve as guides, and complete volunteer service projects during their stay. These scouts live in the Scout Barracks located behind Fort Mackinac.[51][52][53]


Mackinac Island contains a wide variety of terrain, including fields, marshes, bogs, coastline, boreal forest, and limestone formations. The environment is legally preserved on the island by the State Historic Park designation. About half of the shoreline and adjacent waters off Mackinac Island, including the harbor (Haldimand Bay) and the southern and western shore from Mission Point to Pointe aux Pins, is protected as part of the Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve, a state marine park.[54]

As it is separated from the mainland by 3 miles (4.8 km) of water, few mammals inhabit the island, except those that traverse the ice during the winter months. Coyotes have recently been reported.[55] Bats are the most abundant mammals as crossing the water is no obstacle for them. There are many limestone caves serving as homes for the bats and many insects on the island for the bat to prey on. The island is frequented by migratory birds on their trips between their summer and winter habitats. Eagles and hawks are abundant in April and May, while smaller birds such as Yellow Warblers, American Redstart, and Indigo Bunting are more common in early summer. Near the shoreline, gulls, herons, geese, and loons are common. Owls, including Snowy Owls and Great Grey Owls, come to the island from the Arctic to hunt in the warmer climate. Other birds, such as chickadees, cardinals, Blue Jays, and woodpeckers, live on the island year-round. Toads have also been found.[56]

A Blue Jay, one of Mackinac Island's resident birds

Mackinac Island contains over 600 species of vascular plants. Flowering plants and wildflowers are abundant, including Trillium, Lady Slippers, Forget-me-nots, Trout Lily, Spring Beauty, Hepatica, Buttercups, and Hawkweeds in the forests and Orchids, Fringed Gentian, Butter-and-Eggs, and Jack-in-the-Pulpit along the shoreline. The island's forests are home to many varieties of trees, such as maple, birch, elm, cedar, pine, and spruce.[56]


Dwightwood Spring on Mackinac Island's shoreline
Arch Rock on Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island was formed as the glaciers of the last ice age began to melt around 13,000 BC. The bedrock strata that underlie the island are much older, dating to Late Silurian and Early Devonian time, about 400 to 420 million years ago. Subsurface deposits of halite (rock salt) dissolved, allowing the collapse of overlying limestones; these once-broken but now solidified rocks comprise the Mackinac Breccia.

The melting glaciers formed the Great Lakes, and the receding lakewaters eroded the limestone bedrock, forming the island's steep cliffs and rock formations. At least three previous lake levels are known, two of them higher than the present shore: Algonquin lakeshores date to about 10,000 years ago, and the Nipissing shorelines formed about 12,000 years ago.[57] During an intermediate period of low water between these two high-water stages, the Straits of Mackinac shrank to a narrow gorge which discharged its water into Lake Huron through Mackinac Falls, located just east of Mackinac Island.[58]

As the Great Lakes assumed their present levels, Mackinac Island took on its current size.[3] The steep cliffs were one of the primary reasons for the British army's choice of the island for a fortification; their decision differed from that of the French army, which had built Fort Michilimackinac about 1715 near present-day Mackinaw City. The limestone formations are still part of the island's appeal. However, tourists are attracted by the natural beauty rather than the strategic value. One of the most popular geologic formations is Arch Rock, a natural limestone arch, 146 feet (45 m) above the ground.[4] Other popular geologic formations include Devil's Kitchen, Skull Cave, and Sugar Loaf.[5]

Popular culture

The majority of the film Somewhere in Time was filmed on Mackinac Island. Several landmarks are visible in the film, including the Grand Hotel and the lighthouse on nearby Round Island. The Mackinac Bridge is faintly visible in the background of one scene. The film's director said he needed to "find a place that looked like it hadn't changed in eighty years."

Mackinac Island appeared on two episodes of Dirty Jobs, with host Mike Rowe as a Mackinac Bridge maintenance worker, and a horse manure and garbage removal/composting collector.[59][60]

Notable residents


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  2. ^ "Mackinac Island". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-06-27. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "National Historic Landmark Nomination - Mackinac Island" (PDF). United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved 2007-03-10. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Petersen, Eugene T.. "High Cliffs". Retrieved 2007-03-04. 
  5. ^ a b c Petersen, Eugene T.. "A Historic Treasure Preserved". Retrieved 2007-03-05. 
  6. ^ a b Brennan, James. "Fort Holmes". The Michigan Historical Marker Web Site. Retrieved 2007-03-04. 
  7. ^ "Mackinac Island, Michigan". Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  8. ^ "Eselco Inc · 10-K405 · For 12/31/96 · EX-13". SEC Info. 1997-03-31. Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  9. ^ "Welcome to Mackinac Island". Superior Sights. Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  10. ^ "By Air". Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  11. ^ a b "Mackinac Island FAQs". Mackinac State Historic Parks. Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  12. ^ Dearle, Brian. "Mackinac Island". The New Colonist. Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  13. ^ "Mackinac Island State Park: Points of Interest". Mackinac State Historic Parks.,1,10,13,105. Retrieved 2009-06-01. 
  14. ^ "Accommodations". Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  15. ^ Straus, Frank (2006-02-11). "The Sweet Surrender of Mackinac Island Fudge". Mackinac Island Town Crier. Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  16. ^ Slevin, Mary McGuire. "Shopping". Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau. Retrieved 2007-05-30. 
  17. ^ a b c d e Slevin, Mary McGuire. "History". Retrieved 2007-03-08. 
  18. ^ Zacharias, Pat. "The breathtaking Mackinac Bridge". Detroit News. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  19. ^ Hamilton, Raphael N., S.J. Father Marquette. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans. pp. 43. 
  20. ^ Boynton, James, S.J. (1996). Fishers of Men: The Jesuit Mission at Mackinac, 1670-1765. Mackinac Island: Ste. Anne's Church. pp. 14–15. 
  21. ^ Brinkley, Alan (2003). American History: A Survey (11 ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education. pp. 141, 173. ISBN 0-07-242436-2. 
  22. ^ Petersen, Eugene T.. "The Victorian Era: A Resort Meca". Retrieved 2007-03-05. 
  23. ^ Slevin, Mary McGuire. "Mackinac Island Fact Sheet" (PDF). Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau. Retrieved 2007-03-05. 
  24. ^ Nichols, John D.; Nyholm, Earl (1995). A Concise Dictionary of Minnesota Ojibwe. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 
  25. ^ Harper, Douglas. "Mackinaw". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2007-03-08. 
  26. ^ Ferjutz, Kelly. "Broadcloth, Brocade and Buckskin—Return to the past on Mackinac Island". Retrieved 2007-03-08. 
  27. ^ "Fort Mackinac". Hunt's Guide to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Midwestern Guides. Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  28. ^ "A Brief History of Fort Mackinac". Mackinac Island State Park Commission. Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  29. ^ a b ""Historic Buildings"". Mackinac State Historic Parks.,1,10,12,190. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 
  30. ^ ""Biddle House"". Retrieved 2010-02-01. 
  31. ^ a b "MICHIGAN - Mackinac County". Retrieved 2007-03-09. 
  32. ^ "Geary House Rental". Mackinac Island State Park Commission. Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  33. ^ "Grand Hotel". Roadside America. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  34. ^ Petersen, Eugene. "Indian Dormitory". History of Mackinac Island. Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  35. ^ "Your Wedding at Mission Church". Mackinac Island State Park Commission. Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  36. ^ "Mission House". MI State Historic Preservation Objects. Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  37. ^ Pepper, Terry (2003-12-12). "Round Island Light". Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  38. ^ "Market Street, 1820s fur trade center". Hunts' Guide to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Midwestern Guides. Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  39. ^ "Governor's Summer Residence Tours". Mackinac Island State Park Commission. Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  40. ^ Slevin, Mary McGuire. "The Arts". Retrieved 2007-03-10. 
  41. ^ "Titles with locations including Mackinac Island, Michigan, USA". IMDB.,%20Michigan,%20USA&&heading=18;with+locations+including;Mackinac%20Island,%20Michigan,%20USA. Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  42. ^ "History". Mackinac Island Lilac Festival. Retrieved 2007-03-11. 
  43. ^ "Tocqueville's Mackinac". Tocqueville's America. University of Virginia. Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  44. ^ "Summer on the Lakes, in 1843". University of Illinois Press. Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  45. ^ "Preservation of Thoreau Country". The Thoreau Society. 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  46. ^ Havranek, Carrie (2005-05-19). "Lose Yourself on the Tiny, Exclusive, Still-Affordable Mackinac Island". Frommer's. Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  47. ^ "Michigan Salutes Mackinac Island". DOCUMENTS NEWS FROM AROUND THE STATE. Michigan State University. June 1995. Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  48. ^ Slevin, Mary McGuire. "Architecture". Retrieved 2007-03-10. 
  49. ^ "ST. IGNACE". Hunts' Guide to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Midwestern Guides. Retrieved 2007-05-22. 
  50. ^ "Contact Us". Mackinac Island Town Crier. Retrieved 2007-05-22. 
  51. ^ "Mackinac Island Honor Scouts". Girl Scouts - Michigan Trails. Retrieved 2007-03-11. 
  52. ^ Wilson, Suzanne (May-June 2005). "A 75-Year Tradition of Summer Service". Scouting Magazine. Retrieved 2007-03-11. 
  53. ^ "Mackinac Island Scout Service Camp" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-03-11. 
  54. ^ Bailey, Dan Holden (September 1999). "Mackinac Straits". Diver Magazine. Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  55. ^ "Coyote Population Begins To Cause Concern on Mackinac Island". St. Ignace News. Retrieved 2008-04-12. 
  56. ^ a b Slevin, Mary McGuire. "Ecosystem". Retrieved 2007-05-17. 
  57. ^ "Geology and Glacial Lake Shoreline Features of Mackinac Island". American Institute of Professional Geologists. Retrieved 2007-05-18. 
  58. ^ "Ancient Waterfall Discovered Off Mackinac Island's Shoreline". Mackinac Island Town Crier. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  59. ^ ""Dirty Jobs" airs Mackinac Island episode August 28.". Michigan Film Office.,1607,7-248-46449-174459--,00.html. Retrieved 2008-06-08. 
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External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Mackinac Island [1] is a resort island famous for its colonial to victorian era character, situated in the Straits of Mackinac, connecting Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The name is pronounced "MAK-i-naw". First inhabitated by the Ojibwe tribe and then settled by Europeans in the mid 1600's, the village of Mackinac was finally incorporated in 1817 and served as the seat for the territorial county of Michilimackinac by 1818 and as the seat of Mackinac County from 1849-1882. The territorial county of Michilimackinac covered much of what is now Michigan. Fort Mackinac housed the central government for the Northern Frontier after the American Revolution. By the end of the War of 1812, the Island figured prominently in the governing and early development of the Northwest Territory.

Get in

The primary method of reaching the island is by commercial ferryboat from one of the two mainland ports: Mackinaw City on the Lower Peninsula, and St. Ignace on the Upper Peninsula.

There are three commercial ferryboat lines that provide service and a small airline to Mackinac Island. All offer frequent service from early morning through the evening.

  • Arnold Transit Company [2]
  • Shepler's Mackinac Island Ferry [3]
  • Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry [4]
  • Great Lakes Air [5]

Ferry service is regular and no reservations are needed from May through October. After November 1, Arnold Transit Company serves the Island until the ice moves in for the winter, usually in mid January. Islanders fly back and forth to St. Ignace via Great Lakes Air. A good site for information is available through the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau

Get around

In keeping with the island's pre-20th-century flavor, no personal motor vehicles are allowed on Mackinac Island. The primary methods of transportation are via bicycles, horse-drawn carriages, saddle horses and by foot. Most of the historic and cultural sights on Mackinac lie within 1 mile of the ferry docks, so getting around is easy. There are electric scooters for persons with disabilities available and adult strollers.

Many visitors take the Mackinac Island Carriage Tour official tour of the town and Mackinac Island State Park. Two or three team horse hitchs carry Island visitors to visit Arch Rock, Fort Mackinac and the Surrey Hills carriage museum in the Island's interior.

Many prefer to bicycle while on the Island and tourists may bring their own bikes to the Island for an extra ferryboat fee. Rental bikes are also available by the hour, half and full day.

The Grand Hotel
The Grand Hotel

All three of Mackinac Island's foremost sights were built during the late 1800s or are interpreted as if one was visiting them in that period. These sights form key elements in the total-immersion nature of Victorian culture and iconography on Mackinac Island.

The central "village" (the entire island has a census population of 483) consists of only two streets, Main Street and Market Street. Most of both streets are lined with shops that depend on the seasonal tourist trade. Main Street has good examples of vernacular false-front commercial architecture of the late 1800s. Many Market Street buildings are even earlier, built during the fur-trade boom of the War of 1812 period. The village is tightly-clustered on the southern end of the island.

On a steep bluff above Main Street is Fort Mackinac. Although the stone walls of the fort were raised by the British Army in 1780-81 in a failed attempt to keep the American "rebels" from gaining control of Michigan, most of the frame buildings inside the fort were built in the 1800s. The Mackinac Island State Park currently (2005) interprets the fort to its life in the 1880s. An admission fee is charged. There are excellent views of the village, Mackinaw Bridge, and nearby shipping channel from the fort's walls.

Halfway up another steep hill to the north-west is the Grand Hotel, a substantial 1884 summer "palace" offering upscale accommodation. Visitors often find the hotel, with its record-length front porch, to be an attractive place to appreciate a relatively complete pre-World War I environment. The 1980 Christopher Reeve movie Somewhere in Time is set and was filmed here. An admission fee is charged to non-guests.

The stores, fort, and hotel are open in the late spring, summer, and fall, and closed in the winter and early spring. Most of Mackinac Island's visitors come to the Island between the Lilac Festival (early June) and Labor Day. During the long cold winters, permanent residents are sometimes forced to follow a path made of discarded Christmas trees over the ice to nearby St. Ignace for supplies.


Mackinac Island's ban on motor vehicles has created a unique style of participatory recreation, accessible to year-round residents and visitors alike. A wide variety of footpaths and saddle-horse trails snake through the interior of Mackinac Island. Several of these trails have been in use for at least 150 years. Most Islanders get from place to place by bicycle or horse-drawn carriage, and welcome visitors who do the same thing.

Thousands of tourists bring their own bikes to Mackinac Island each year. All three ferryboat lines welcome bikes, although they charge a supplemental fare for them. M-185, known locally as Main Street is the 8-mile, relatively flat paved trail around the Island and a favorite destination. Bicycles can also be rented by the hour, and prices start about $5 an hour for a single speed bike with a basket.

A large local firm, Mackinac Island Carriage Tours, provides a horse-drawn ride along a set route through the interior of the Island. The Grand Hotel provides guests with horse-drawn transportation from the ferry docks to the hotel by horse-drawn omnibus for a fee. Visitors can also rent saddle horses or light buggies by the hour. Mackinac Island Carriage Tour Company offers great tour packages an excellent way to see the island hitting the major things to see including Fort Mackinac, Wings of Mackinac, Arch Rock and also offers a last stop at the Grand Hotel. For an interesting view of the islands history, ghost stories, and legends, take a easy paced walking tour with Haunts of Mackinac and their Haunted History Tours. Haunts of Mackinac Tours are an entertaining and informative way to spend your evening on Mackinac Island.

  • Three 9-hole golf courses have been carved out of the interior of the island. On Grand Hotel property is the Grand Nine and up Island is the second nine hole course called the Woods. Horse drawn carriages move golfers between the two courses and there are golf carts available while on each course. Wawashkamo is a Scottish Links course and one of the oldest golf courses in the country. Created in the late 1800's , this is the closest to Scotland any one could hope for.
  • The Mackinaw Breezeis a charter sailboat that docks during summer months at the Chippewa Waterfront Hotel and offers cruises from the island's harbor to the Straits of Mackinac.


During the 1800s, Mackinac Island was a center of the Great Lakes fishing trade, with shoals of lake trout and whitefish pulled out of the Straits of Mackinac and re-shipped to urban markets. Although the island's Arnold Line Dock and adjacent Coal Dock were built in part to serve fish shippers and remain in active use to this day, commercial fishing has ceased on Mackinac Island.

Since the 1880s, Mackinac candymakers have made and sold fudge to visitors. These days there are five fudge companies on the island: Joann's, May's, Murdick's, the Murray Hotel, and Ryba's. Much, but not quite all, of the fudge sold on Mackinac Island is made with traditional ingredients and in fealty to the traditional labor-intensive process for making this confectionwhich involves oxidizing, or paddling the fudge on a slab of marble. During the process, the cooked fudge slowly cools and hardens into a loaf-shaped, semi-circular log.

Carriage House at the Iroquois Hotel, [6]. This restaurant offers an excellent opportunity for al-fresco dining.


Mackinac Island has more than 30 licensed locations where alcohol is sold. While alcohol has been consumed here in large quantities since the fur-trading era, many current licenses are held by restaurants and bars operating inside the summer hotels. A few drinking places of special interest are:

Horn's Gaslight Bar, [7] a 19th century saloon atmosphere with Southwest and traditional American fare. The first bar in Michigan to gain a liquor license after prohibition, Horn's is a favorite spot for entertainment, dancing and all around fun.

The Pink Pony, [8] is an old-fashioned street-level bar within the Chippewa Waterfront Hotel [9], it is a traditional gathering place for yachters who have successfully finished either of the Great Lakes's two long-distance sailboat races, the Chicago-to-Mackinac or the Port-Huron-to-Mackinac. Unlike most island businesses, the Mustang remains open year-round.


In addition to the legendary Grand Hotel, there are forty other places to lay your head on the island. Hotels, historic inns, apartments, bed-and-breakfasts, condos and Victorian era cottages are available.

Grand Hotel [10] truly is America’s Summer Place open May through October annually. The hotel opened in July 1887 built with the financial resources of two railroad companies and one steamboat company. It was billed as a summer retreat for wealthy vacationers who wanted to escape the dust and heat of the industrial cities of the Midwest. In the 1890’s, Grand Hotel’s legendary 660 ft front porch---the world’s longest---was the social center for all of Mackinac Island hosting afternoon tea, dances, concerts and the famous “Flirtation Walk”, when soldiers from Fort Mackinac would walk the porch in full military regalia just to make small talk with the eligible young ladies. Today this magnificent front porch remains a meeting place for island romantics. Part of Mackinac Island's charm is the fact that in 1891 the island banned the automobile. Thanks to this ban some 600 horses still meet the islands transportation needs for groups. Bicycling is the largest mode of island transportation.

Two movies have been filmed at Grand Hotel, with the hotel prominently in their storylines. The 1947 film “This Time For Keeps” starring Jimmy Durante and Esther Williams; and the 1980 film “Somewhere In Time” starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.

Today, Grand Hotel’s 385 guest rooms include an abundance of comforting amenities; each having been tastefully decorated in it’s own special style by the Dorothy Draper Company’s, New York interior designer, Carleton Varney. With so many activities and kids' programs, it's no wonder the readers of Travel + Leisure Family magazine consider Grand Hotel one of the 10 kid-friendliest resorts in the U.S. and Canada. Nightly free movies, video games, Duck Pin bowling at Woods Restaurant, touring Grand Hotel's horse stables, Croquet and Bocci Ball in the Tea Garden, Rock Collecting on the beach, Playground Games and Putt-Putt Golf along with a special kids meal. Every season, numerous guests prefer lodging with us so they may enjoy the unparalleled dining and service at Grand Hotel. We always include a full breakfast and five-course dinner daily with a variety of evening entertainment. If your schedule will not allow you to stay the night, consider the bountiful Grand Luncheon Buffet and self-guided tour.

The island’s many historic and natural attractions are all just a few minutes away. Rent a bicycle, take a horse-drawn carriage tour, play tennis on clay courts or golf the Jewel 18 hole course. The Butterfly Conservatory and Fort Mackinac may also be enjoyed.

Hotel boutiques include men and women’s clothing, fine art, jewelry, books, china, souvenirs, beauty products, garden gifts and children’s toys. Walk in to Grand Hotel’s Astor’s Salon and pamper yourself with our special services for men and women, including body treatments, hairstyling, facials and more.

Grand Hotel is on Travel + Leisure magazine’s list of greatest hotels in the world, and is one of National Geographic Traveler’s “Hotels You’ll Love.” Mackinac Island---one of Yahoo! Travel’s Nine Island Destinations in the U.S. ---offers rich natural beauty and numerous historic, cultural, entertainment, and attractions.

  • Mary's Bistro, 7458 Main Street (located at head of Star Line Dock), 906-847-9911.  edit

Stay safe

Because of its unique horse-and-bicycle culture, the island is a relatively safe place for families to walk on the sidewalks and bike on streets and roads. However, street crowding is a problem, especially on the island's busy Main Street. Be sure to stay out of the way of the horses and out of the downtown street for safety purposes. Living in a horse town is not familiar to most folks and on Mackinac Island, the horses have the right of way.

The island's unusual brecciated geology has produced a series of hills and bluffs that are beautiful and great to photograph. Maps are available and getting around on a private buggy or bicycle proves most convienient.

Horses and all the flowers and pollen make Mackinac Island tricky for people with allergies during the early spring. The rest of the year is quite comfortable as the winds keep moving in all directions blowing out the allergens and insects.

Get out

Because of its position, Mackinac is a popular stop for those traveling from the Upper Peninsula to destinations in the Lower Peninsula, and (more commonly) vice versa.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

MACKINAC ISLAND, a small island in the N.W. extremity of Lake Huron and a part of Mackinac county, Michigan, and a city and summer resort of the same name on the island. The city is on the S.E. shore, at the entrance of the Straits of Mackinac, about 7 m. N.E. of Mackinaw City and 6 m. E.S.E. of St Ignace. Pop. (1900), 665; (1904, state census), 736. During the summer season, when thousands of people come here to enjoy the cool and pure air and the island's beautiful scenery, the city is served by the principal steamboat lines on the Great Lakes and by ferry to Mackinaw city (pop. in 1904, 696), which is served by the Michigan Central, the Grand Rapids & Indiana, and the Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic railways. The island is about 3 m. long by 2 m. wide. From the remarkably clear water of Lake Huron its shores rise for the most part in tall white limestone cliffs; inland there are strangely shaped rocks and forests of cedar, pine, fir, spruce, juniper, maple, oak, birch, and beech. Throughout the island there are numerous glens, ravines, and caverns, some of which are rich in associations with Indian legends. The city is an antiquated fishing and trading village with modern hotels, club-houses, and summer villas. Fort Mackinac and its grounds are included in a state reservation which embraces about one-half of the island.

The original name of the island was Michilimackinac ("place of the big lame person" or "place of the big wounded person"); the name was apparently derived from an Algonquian tribe, the Mishinimaki or Mishinimakinagog, now extinct. The island was long occupied by Chippewas, the Hurons had a village here for a short time after their expulsion from the East by the Iroquois, and subsequently there was an Ottawa village here. The first white settlement or station was established by the French in 1670 (abandoned in 1701) at Point Saint Ignace on the north side of the strait. In 1761 a fort on the south side (built in 1712) was surrendered to the British. By the treaty of Paris (1783) the right of the United States to this district was acknowledged; but the fort was held by the British until 1796. In July 1812 a British force surprised the garrison, which had not yet learned that war had been declared. In August 1814 an American force under Colonel George Croghan (1791-1849) attempted to recapture the island but was repulsed with considerable loss. By the treaty of Ghent, however, the island was restored, in July 1815, to the United States; Fort Mackinac was maintained by the Federal government until 1895, when it was ceded to the state. From 1820 to 1840 the village was one of the principal stations of the American Fur Company. A Congregational mission was established among the Chippewas on the island in 1827, but was discontinued before 1845. The city of Mackinac Island was chartered in 1899.

See W. C. Richards, "The Fairy Isle of Mackinac," in the Magazine of American History (July 1891); and R. G. Thwaites, "The Story of Mackinac," in vol. 14 of the Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (Madison, 1898).

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Simple English

Mackinac Island is an island in Lake Huron. It is part of the U.S. state of Michigan and is 8 miles (13 kilometers) around.

Many people go to see Mackinac Island in the summer because the island passed a local law that says that no one can use a car on the island. Everybody has to ride a horse or a bicycle. In recent years, young people have been using roller skates or roller blades to get around the island. There is a narrow paved road that follows the 8 miles of shoreline. This road is for horses (and their buggies), bicycles, skates and joggers or just people taking a long walk.

In order to get to Mackinac Island, visitors have to buy a ticket on a ferry boat. The boat ride has views of Lake Huron and the Mackinac Bridge. After they get to Mackinac Island, many visitors buy locally made fudge.


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