Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island is a small island in Lake Huron famous for its 19th and early 20th century quaint architecture and its exclusive use of horses for transportation that is due to a ban on motorized vehicles. We woke up early the day of our visit and were greeted with the most spectacular sunrise before boarding the ferry though the twenty minute cruise was equally spectacular with views of Mackinac Bridge, Round Island Lighthouse, and the harbor at Mackinac Island.

Sunrise, St. Ignace, Michigan

Sunrise, St. Ignace, Michigan

Sunrise, St. Ignace, Michigan

Sunrise, St. Ignace, Michigan

Sunrise, St. Ignace, Michigan

Sunrise, St. Ignace, Michigan

View of the Mackinac Bridge leaving St. Ignace, Michigan

View of the Mackinac Bridge leaving St. Ignace, Michigan

Round Island Lighthouse, Michigan

Round Island Lighthouse, Michigan

Harbor at Mackinac Island, Michigan

Harbor at Mackinac Island, Michigan

We had arrived before 8am and had the downtown streets mostly to ourselves as we took in the historic buildings and clapboard siding before we walked away from town into the state park – which had fantastic views from the West Bluff – and then through neighborhoods of beautiful summer homes and gardens. We had already walked about six or seven miles by mid-morning when we found ourselves at the stables for the Grand Hotel where we learned more information about the horses from two carriage drivers doing barn chores. Island transportation runs on the power of the nearly six hundred Percheron draft and Hackney carriage horses that do everything from serving as taxis and luggage movers to construction material and food conveyors during the summer. The horses are teamed together for the entire season and are then ferried back to farms across the state in the late fall.

Street in the early morning, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Street in the early morning, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Street in the early morning, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Street in the early morning, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Little Stone Church, 1904, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Little Stone Church, 1904, Mackinac Island, Michigan

View from West Bluff, Pontiac Trail, Mackinac Island, Michigan

View from West Bluff, Pontiac Trail, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Grand Hotel carriage with drivers we met, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Grand Hotel carriage with drivers we met, Mackinac Island, Michigan

The next stop was Fort Mackinac, the British fort transferred from Fort Michilimackinac on the mainland in 1781 in an attempt by the British to retain control of the Straits of Mackinac following American Independence. After being relinquished to the Americans, the fort remained occupied – mostly with reserve troops in different capacities after the War of 1812 – until the late 19th century. Today the fort contains the restored buildings and functions as a museum.

View of palisade and blockhouse, Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

View of palisade and blockhouse, Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Interior of Officers Stone Quarters, 1780, Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Interior of Officers Stone Quarters, 1780, Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Company K enlisted man's quarters, ca. 1885, Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Company K enlisted man’s quarters, ca. 1885, Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Interior of quartermaster storehouse ca. 1886, Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Interior of quartermaster storehouse ca. 1886, Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

East Blockhouse, 1798, Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

East Blockhouse, 1798, Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

View from the palisades of Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

View from the palisades of Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

View of downtown from palisades of Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

View of downtown from palisades of Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

View of the marina from palisades of Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

View of the marina from palisades of Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

One more view from palisades of Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

One more view from palisades of Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

We spent the rest of the day first walking to the site of Fort Holmes, a British fort built during the War of 1812 when Mackinac Island was captured, and then descending to the shore which we followed back into town. All in all we walked over 15 miles around the island and thoroughly enjoyed its natural and architectural beauty as well as the novelty of the omnipresent horses.

View from site of old Fort Holmes – the highest point on Mackinac Island, Michigan

View from site of old Fort Holmes – the highest point on Mackinac Island, Michigan

Tom and I near Fort Holmes, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Tom and I near Fort Holmes, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Sugar Loaf rock, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Sugar Loaf rock, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Shore of Mackinac Island, Michigan

Shore of Mackinac Island, Michigan

Shore of Mackinac Island, Michigan

Shore of Mackinac Island, Michigan

Saint Anne Church, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Saint Anne Church, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Interior Saint Anne Church, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Interior Saint Anne Church, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Market street in the afternoon, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Market street in the afternoon, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Shore of Mackinac Island with town in background, Michigan

Shore of Mackinac Island with town in background, Michigan

Freight horses, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Freight horses, Mackinac Island, Michigan

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