Preserved within Marquette Mission Park is the site of the St. Ignace Mission, established by Fr. Marquette in the 17th century. A monument marks the burial site of the Jesuit missionary/explorer, and the Museum of Ojibwe Culture is housed in an adjacent building. Its exhibits highlight 17th century St. Ignace and the Contact Period when the Ojibwe, Huron, and French cultures mixed. The featured culture is the Ojibwa, the region’s original occupants. Included among the exhibits are a Huron long house and a garden with typical Native American plantings. Continue to explore the heritage of The Straits of Mackinac at sites throughout the St. Ignace region, including those linked by The Mackinac State Parks on Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.
The park and museum are located at 500-566 N. State Street in downtown St. Ignace at the intersection of Marquette and State Streets. St. Ignace is located at the northern terminus of the Mackinac Bridge, on the Upper Peninsula, at the junction of US-2 and I-75.
The great iron ore deposits of the Marquette Iron Range in the Upper Peninsula were exploited in the mid-nineteenth century, establishing the state as a leader in the iron industry, and triggering the growth of industry boomtowns. One of those was the town of Fayette, the site of The Jackson Iron Company’s blast furnace, built there in 1867. Fayette’s success centered on its charcoal-fired blast furnace and the easy access to the main ingredients, lime and charcoal (from the nearby limestone cliffs and hardwood forests) for the smelting process. The town prospered for almost three decades, but improved technology sealed its fate. The massive blast furnace could not compete with the newer coke-fired furnaces. When the blast furnace closed in 1891, so did Fayette. Today, the town is preserved within this state park, and visitors may take a self-guided walking tour of the site. Included among its 26 structures and surface features are the town hall, opera house, hotel, several homes, and the remains of the blast furnace. The iron industry and its cultural heritage is preserved in historic sites and museums throughout the Upper Peninsula. Two excellent sources are The Marquette County Historical Museum and the Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee.
Location Map and Directions: Click Here
Link: Historic Fayette Town Site
A fine state park links a number of important sites around the Straits of Mackinac at the northern tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. The feature sites are Colonial Michilimackinac, with a fine reconstruction of an eighteenth century French (later British) fort. The fort encloses 18 authentically reconstructed buildings on their original sites, and professional archaeologists are often at work on the site. (In my experience, the archaeologists and their student assistants are quite friendly and eager to answer questions and discuss their work.) Historic Mill Creek recreates one of the first industrial sites on the Great Lakes, a water-powered sawmill for mechanized timber cutting, dating to the early nineteenth century. Fort Mackinac, on nearby Mackinac Island, was an important post during the War of 1812. All this is set in a spectacular setting which includes the Mackinac Bridge, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and last but not least, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. Cross the Mackinac Bridge to explore the sites of historic Ignace, the oldest settlement in Michigan.