Friday, July 22, 2011

Mackinac Island

We had an absolutely wonderful day on the island yesterday. Fortunately the weather cooled down, the sun was hot but the breeze off the lake was pleasantly cool. To get to the island we had to board a ferry from Mackinaw city. It was necessary also to bring our bicycles with us as cars have been banned from the island since 1898. The picture below is that of a usual street scene on the island, horses and carriages are a common sight as well as a variety of bicycles. It is a bicyclist's paradise, but pedestrians and horses do have the right of way. Sometimes we had to do a bit of weaving around on the roads to avoid the horse excrement!
Arriving, then, by ferry boat we entered Haldimand Bay. Many of the island's popular sites, as Fort Mackinac, Grand Hotel, and  the village's business district are in the immediate area surrounding the bay.
The harbor picture above was taken from Fort Mackinac. At the fort, in the soldier's barracks, there is a wonderful exhibit covering the history of the island and fort. The island is centrally located as the crossroads of the upper Great Lakes. An important fur industry sprang up here in the 19th century. Trappers brought their furs here and from this island the furs were shipped to the east coast. The first land battle of the war of 1812 happened on this island, at which time American soldiers tried to recapture Fort Mackinac from the British but were defeated.The fort was closed in 1895, but since then it has been restored and it is now open to the public. Live programs go on during the summer there with costumed historic interpreters.
Another important part of this island's history has been the tourist industry. The showplace of the Great Lakes, Grand Hotel was built in1887 to accommodate the late 19th-century influx of summer visitors. It has become such a popular spot that now only its patrons can enter the building- a small fee is charged for other who wish to tour it. We were fortunate to take at least one picture of the hotel, it is pictured below. While we were standing in front of it it we were approached by a hotel employee and informed that bikes were not allowed in front of the building! Anyway, the best part of our time on the island was spent biking along the lake shore and seeing some of the natural wonders of the island. More on that in my next posting.

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