Anyway, on to the Fort!
The current Fort was founded during the American Revolution when it was moved from the mainland to the island by the British in 1780. The French built the first fort on the mainland. The Americans took control in 1796, but the British took it back in the War of 1812. Touring the Fort reminded me of touring Castle Hill in Placentia, Newfoundland where the British and the French played do-si-do over control of that harbor. In this area the main economic interest was the fur trade and not the cod fishing though. It always interests me what people at different times in history are eager enough to covet and fight over. These days it's oil, of course. The fur trade flourished here through the 1820's, millions of dollars worth of fur passed through Macinac Island, but fishing interests soon became the major industry due to the abundance of whitefish, trout, pickerel and cisco.
The stone ramparts and the stone Officer's Quarters (the oldest building in Michigan) are all original, but the wooden structures date from 1790 to the late 1800's. Exhibits about the wars fought here and about daily life at the Fort are located within the buildings.
Great map of Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron, right? I thought the eagle gave it a nice touch. We've visited the shores of all three of those lakes, we'll have to make sure to add Lake Erie and Lake Ontario to our must-do list.
The Fort also served as a prison for a few months during the Civil War when it had 3 Confederate Army sympathizers as guests. After the Civil War the island gradually became a summer hot-spot due to its comfortable weather. An expanding railroad brought travelers from Chicago and other large midwest cities.
It was during this time that much of the island became a National Park. When the U.S. Government closed the Fort in 1895, the state of Michigan worked to have the park transferred to them as their first state park. For many years buildings in the Fort were available for vacationers to rent in order to provide revenue to the park, but in the 1930's serious renovation began on the Fort.
We chose to tour the Fort as our first stop due to the climb up the hill, and we were rewarded with a great view and a smaller amount of visitors early in the day.
But the best part about visiting the Fort was the canon firing and the rifle firing demonstrations.