The History of Mackinaw Island

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The History of Mackinaw Island

History of Mackinaw Page 1

Located just north of Michigan lies a unique little island that may be small in size but large in history. Glaciers once covered this land and after they began to recede a unique landscape was revealed as was the opening for its place in history. The Mackinac Island’s history has been due in large part to its geographical location and terrain makeup.

The island is about 4 square miles and is today a place for tourism in the great lakes. Many thousands of years ago though this was a little piece of land with bluffs reaching high above its surroundings and was a merely a small piece of land surrounded by water. It was because of these bluffs the appearance of the island resembled a turtle and led to it being named “The Great Turtle” (Piljac, 1998). Currently the island reaches several hundred feet above the lake and it’s because of this geography that many nations saw this as a perfect military post and would be used over and over again throughout its history as such.

The island was first home to Native Americans long before Europeans started settling there. The Great Lakes American Indians were the first to visit and use this island as a resource for their own livelihood. Primarily during the summer they would travel and fish here due to the abundance of food in the surrounding waters. The first known tribe to have inhabited the island was the Anishinaabe tribe. Artifacts such has arrow heads, fish hooks and pottery have been found and dated back to as early as 900 A.D. (Mackinaw Island). In 1671, Europeans began settling here when a man named Father Jacques Marquette created the first mission on the Island. He originally setu...

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...t always been smooth sailing. Tourism declined greatly after the Great Depression but after the construction of the Great Hotel and the filming of a couple of movies, Mackinaw Island once again saw people flock to its shores. From fur trading to fishing and military posts to tourism, Mackinac Island has been a small little island but its place in history as loomed large.


Jennifer S.H. Brown, W.J. Eccles and Donald P. Heldman, The Fur Trade Revisited, Michigan State University Press, 1994.

Thomas M. Piljac, Mackinac Island: Historic Frontier, Vacation Resort, Timeless Wonder, Chicago Review Press, 1998.

Mackinaw City History. Retrieved on 27 April, 2014, accessed from:

Mackinaw Island History. Retrieved on 25 April, 2014, accessed from:
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