Armed Sloop Welcome

Emmett County Headlands International Dark Sky Park
Mackinaw City, Michigan

Armed Sloop Welcome in a 1980s postcard

The reproduction of the Armed Sloop Welcome standing on a trailer behind the Mackinaw City Harley-Davidson store
A 1970s reproduction of the Armed Sloop Welcome stands on a trailer in the field behind the Mackinaw City, Michigan Harley-Davidson store. A local businessman purchased the sloop from Emmet County in March 2017 for $10,111 and it may one day be on display in the water nearby. For two years prior to its purchase, the Welcome was stored in a purpose built barn at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park, west of Mackinaw City.

The original Welcome was one of three cargo sailing vessels which were built on the shore of the Straits of Mackinac in the mid 1770s. They were constructed in present day Mackinaw City, Michigan for the British merchant John Askin.

During the American Revolution, Askin sold the Welcome to the British Governor of Michilimackinac, Major Arent Schuyler DePeyster, for 900 pounds, and the Welcome was converted into an armed sloop of war. Although there is no record of the Welcome's use in combat, it did serve the British military for several years, including use in the transfer of the Fort from the mainland to Mackinac Island. Following damage received while laid up for the winter, the Welcome was declared unfit for further service in 1782.

The present replica Welcome was constructed in the short lived Michilimackinac Maritime Park during the 1970s. It was built under a plastic shelter between the foot of the Mackinac Bridge and Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, which may have been close to where the original was built. The 7 year project was an ongoing exhibit for the park and part of the celebration of the Bicentennial of the American Revolution. Following completion in 1980, the Welcome was placed on exhibit in the Mackinaw City Marina for ten years and occasionally sailed.

By 1990, the Welcome needed significant repairs and in 1991 the vessel was given to the Maritime Heritage Alliance and moved to Traverse City. The Maritime Heritage Alliance worked on the Welcome for 14 years, nearly completely rebuilding the entire ship and replacing much of the original Douglas Fir with Michigan White Oak.

Wooden ships take a lot of work and by 2014, the Welcome was again in need of major work, more work then could be justified. The engines were removed and after negotiations with Emmet County officials, the ship was sold to the County for $1. The county moved it into this new building at the Headlands where it awaited funding for restoration and the construction of a building where would be displayed.

Election turnover on the Emmet County Board of Commissioners changed those plans and The Welcome was sold by the county in 2017.

Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse

Fort Mackinac

Fort Michilimackinac - Mackinaw City, Michigan Fort Michilimackinac

Colonial Fort Michilimackinac in winter Colonial Fort Michilimackinac in winter

Mackinac Island pictures
Mackinac Island

Historic Mill Creek
Discovery Park

The bow of the Armed Sloop Welcome - Mackinaw City, Michigan
The Armed Sloop Welcome in storage at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park in 2015.

The reconstructed Welcome shared its new storage building with Headlands equipment. The Welcome
is 56 feet long, has a beam of 16 feet and a gross hull tonnage of about 45 tons. The depth
of hull from the deck to the keel is 7 feet. 

The Welcome's gun ports
Starboard gun ports

The stern and top of the Welcome's rudder

The Welcome transom name plate
Transom name plate

Mast and spars stored next to the Welcome

Close up of the bow

The building at the Headlands where the Welcome was stored.

The Welcome docked at the Maritime Heritage Alliance in Traverse Bay in 2013

Lighthouses of the Straits of Mackinac     Mighty Mac Home

Copyright 2013-2018 by Keith Stokes