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Happy Birthday to you, Mackinac Island State Park!

Arch Rock Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island National Park (now Mackinac Island State Park) was created on March 3, 1875.

It was the second national park established in the nation, coming three years after Yellowstone. The park, a popular vacation destination since the mid-1800s, was tended to by soldiers assigned to Fort Mackinac.

Exactly two decades later, the fort closed, and the park was transferred to the state, which has run it ever since. The protected area was Michigan’s first state park, previously inhabited by the Ojibwa and Ottawa Indians who treasured the lush forests, caves, high limestone bluffs and variety of flowers.

Today, the park includes more than 80% of the island — about 1,800 acres — where the four-wheeled vehicles that enabled much of the lower part of the state to boom have been outlawed since 1898. Fudge, however, remains very much legal!

This photo was taken at Arch Rock circa 1899 and we’re pretty sure the boat passing through is a “mackinaw boat” – the equivalent of the pickup truck back in the day! Check it out in the video below and click for the story of the creation of Arch Rock.