Colonial Fort Michilimackinac - Mackinaw City, Michigan
Colonial Fort Michilimackinac
102 West Straits Avenue
Mackinaw City, Michigan 49701
(231) 436-4100

Closed until early May 2015
2014 prices: Adult $11        5-17 $6.50

Fort Michilimackinac Map   Fort Michilimackinac in Winter
Fort Mackinac     Mill Creek Discovery Park

Fort Michilimackinac
Fort Michilimackinac - Mackinaw City, Michigan
Fort Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City, Michigan was originally built by the French in 1714-1715 to control the fur trade and European development of the upper Great Lakes. Michilimackinac was more of a fortified community than a military outpost. The colonial community was located both inside and outside the walls and the walls were expanded several times during the French and British occupation of the area. There was an Odawa (Ottawa) community along the shore when Fort Michilimackinac was built, but the Odawas moved 20 miles west to L'Arbre Croche (present day Cross Village) in 1741 when their corn fields were no longer fertile. 

Community at Colonial Fort Michilimackinac

In the summer months the Michilimackinac population would swell (much like today) as voyageurs and traders arrived from Montreal and points east. Other trappers and traders would come to meet them from the interior, as well as hundreds of Native Americans.

The Church of Ste. Anne de Michilimackinac was built in 1743. The church was one of the buildings moved across the ice when the community was moved to Mackinac Island. Those parish records are still preserved at Ste Anne Catholic Church on Mackinac Island

During the French and Indian War, joint Native American and French forces from Michilimackinac traveled south to battle British and colonial American troops. On July 9, 1755 those forces, led by Michilimackinac's Charles de Langlade participated in the defeat of General Edward Braddock and a young George Washington at the Battle of Monongahela River in Pennsylvania.

The French garrison departed the Mackinac Straits at the conclusion of the French and Indian War and British troops arrived 1761. The French civilian community remained and encouraged the Native Americans to drive out the English. During Pontiac's Uprising in 1763, Native Americans defeated the British garrison, using the subterfuge of a bagataway (lacrosse) game to take the British unexpectedly. Many of the British were killed with some taken prisoner. The French population (which far out numbered the British) was unharmed. Alexander Henry was one of the English fur traders who was taken prisoner and his journal provides a fascinating glimpse of life at Michilimackinac at the time, as well as the battle and his life with family of Chief Wawatam during the following year.

With Pontiac's Uprising's lack of success in Detroit, British troops were unopposed when they retook Fort Michilimackinac in 1764. Native American and British relations improved over the following years and by the time of the American Revolution, Indian forces from the region participated in the war on the side of the British.

The most famous British Commander at Michilimackinac was Major Robert Rogers who was Commandant from 1766-1768. A colonial farmer from New Hampshire, Rogers created a the French and Indian war unit called Rogers' Rangers. He was portrayed by Spencer Tracy in the movie The Northwest Passage.

Soldiers from the 10th Regiment of Foot were transferred from Fort Michilimackinac in 1774 and participated in the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775.

The Fort was relocated to the new Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island during the American Revolution, with some of the buildings moved across the ice in the winter of 1780-1781. The remaining structures were burnt to the ground.

Colonial Fort Michilimackinac in winter Colonial Fort Michilimackinac in winter

Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island, Michigan
Fort Mackinac

Fort Mackinac in winter - Mackinac Island
Fort Mackinac in Winter

Historic Mill Creek
Discovery Park

Mackinac Bridge Home Page
Mackinac Bridge home

Launch of Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw
Mackinaw launch

Straits of Mackinac Lighthouses
Mackinac lighthouses

Mackinac Island pictures
Mackinac Island

Marriages recorded at Michilimackinac

The Fort Michilimackinac Pageant

Sieur Charles Michel de Langlade

The Battle of Monongahela 1755

Robert Rogers

Massacre at Fort Michilimackinac from Alexander Henry, Travels and Adventures in Canada and the Indian Territories, Between the years 1760 and 1776

Rogers' Rangers reenactors

archeology at Fort Michilimackinac
Archeologists are happy to stop and talk to Michilimackinac visitors

The immediate area was uninhabited for nearly 80 years until the community of Mackinaw City was started in the 1860s. The original 1857 plate laying out Mackinaw City preserved the Fort grounds as a park. In 1904 the city turned over control of the park to the State of Michigan and it became Michilimackinac State Park.

A WPA project erected a wooden palisade along the lines of the old walls and the replica was opened on July 1, 1933 with a pageant re-enacting the "massacre" of 1763.  In 1959 archeological work at Michilimackinac began and much more accurate reconstruction of the Fort began in 1960. The work has continued every summer, making Michilimackinac the longest running archeological dig in North America.

Fort Michilimackinac with Mackinac Bridge in background

"Brown Bess" Musket and Cannon firing demonstrations


Interpreter Jim Evans has been firing the canon, fiddling, doing crafts,
giving tours and entertaining at Fort Michilimackinac for 43 years.

The 72-75 caliber smooth bore muskets could be loaded and fired by
columns of men in just 15 seconds
Each Memorial Day Weekend since the 200th anniversary of the indian attack of 1763, the residents of Mackinaw City reenact the history of the 18th Century British, French, and Native American community. Originally called the Massacre at Michilimackinac, the free event was renamed the Fort Michilimackinac Pageant as the region grew more socially conscious and aware of Native American contributions and treatment.

The French surrender scene depicted in this 2013 photo of the Fort Michilimackinac Pageant at right never took place in real life, since the French military left Michilimackinac the year before the arrival of the British garrison.

Pagent at Fort Michilimackinac


Land Gate and palisade where Ojibwa (Chippewa), Sac and Fox gained access to the Fort during the battle of 1763.
Heavily blanketed Indian women watched the bagataway game from near the gate with weapons hidden under their blankets.

Fort Michilimackinac in winter
French Row House in the winter of 2011 - more winter photos of Michilimackinac

Fort Michilimackinac from the air
Fort Michilimackinac from the air in 2013 (more aerial photos of the Straits of Mackinac)


Mightymac.org's Webmaster at work on July 4, 1976

Fort Michilimackinac map
The Colonial Michilimackinac Park entrance is located beneath the foot of the Mackinac Bridge
 

Michilimackinac in Winter Fort Mackinac   Colonial Mackinac Home

 copyright 1972-2014 by Keith Stokes