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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Mackinac Island

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A small island in the N.W. extremity of Lake Huron and a part of Mackinac county, Michigan, and a city and summer resort of the same name on the island. The city is on the S.E. shore, at the entrance of the Straits of Mackinac, about 7 m. N.E. of Mackinaw City and 6 m. E.S.E. of St Ignace. Pop. (1900), 665; (1904, state census), 736. During the summer season, when thousands of people come here to enjoy the cool and pure air and the island's beautiful scenery, the city is served by the principal steamboat lines on the Great Lakes and by ferry to Mackinaw city (pop. in 1904, 696), which is served by the Michigan Central, the Grand Rapids & Indiana, and the Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic railways. The island is about 3 m. long by 2 m. wide. From the remarkably clear water of Lake Huron its shores rise for the most part in tall white limestone cliffs; inland there are strangely shaped rocks and forests of cedar, pine, fir, spruce, juniper, maple, oak, birch, and beech. Throughout the island there are numerous glens, ravines, and caverns, some of which are rich in associations with Indian legends. The city is an antiquated fishing and trading village with modern hotels, club-houses, and summer villas. Fort Mackinac and its grounds are included in a state reservation which embraces about one-half of the island.

The original name of the island was Michilimackinac ("place of the big lame person" or "place of the big wounded person"); the name was apparently derived from an Algonquian tribe, the Mishinimaki or Mishinimakinagog, now extinct. The island was long occupied by Chippewas, the Hurons had a village here for a short time after their expulsion from the East by the Iroquois, and subsequently there was an Ottawa village here. The first white settlement or station was established by the French in 1670 (abandoned in 1701) at Point Saint Ignace on the north side of the strait. In 1761 a fort on the south side (built in 1712) was surrendered to the British. By the treaty of Paris (1783) the right of the United States to this district was acknowledged; but the fort was held by the British until 1796. In July 1812 a British force surprised the garrison, which had not yet learned that war had been declared. In August 1814 an American force under Colonel George Croghan (1791-1849) attempted to recapture the island but was repulsed with considerable loss. By the treaty of Ghent, however, the island was restored, in July 1815, to the United States; Fort Mackinac was maintained by the Federal government until 1895, when it was ceded to the state. From 1820 to 1840 the village was one of the principal stations of the American Fur Company. A Congregational mission was established among the Chippewas on the island in 1827, but was discontinued before 1845. The city of Mackinac Island was chartered in 1899.

See W. C. Richards, "The Fairy Isle of Mackinac," in the Magazine of American History (July 1891); and R. G. Thwaites, "The Story of Mackinac," in vol. 14 of the Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (Madison, 1898).

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Mackinac Island'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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