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The Fort Wilkins Story

MILITARY HISTORY
1844- With the War of 1812 fresh in it's memory and lessons being learned in its westward expansion, the US government established Fort Wilkins to protect it's interests in the region's Copper Boom. Its location at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula allowed it's garrison to oversee the copper shipping route and to police the area's indiginous Native Americans.

Sketch of FortThe post was built as a typical stockaded frontier fort with a central parade surrounded by the officer's quarters, enlisted barracks and a hospital. The powder magazine, guardhouse, sutler's store and quartermaster stores were located in back of the quarters. The stockade enclosed all of the structures on two sides with Lake Fannie Hooe and a creek forming the other two sides. The married enlisted quarters were outside the compound at the entrance to the post.

1846- The United States war with Mexico required that the garrison be replaced and shipped to the warfront. A year later the replacements were pulled for the war effort leaving a single caretaker behind- Sergeant William Wright.

1867- Immediatly following the American Civil War, the post was reoccupied by the US Army as a site for soldiers to serve out their enlistments. The post was permanently abandoned by the government in August of 1870.

STATE PARK HISTORY
1923- The fort and adjacent ligthouse became a State Park. The park personnel stabilized the few remaining buildings and supervised the reconstruction of the fort by the Work Projects Administration (WPA). The work was completed between 1939 and 1942. The improvements included a 200 car parking area, upgraded campsites, water and sewer systems, a park store and campground shower building.

1969- The partnership between Michigan state parks and non-profit, interested groups begins with Fort Wilkins Natural History Association being the state's second registered partner.

Today- Fort Wilkins is a well-preserved example of mid-19th century army life on the northern frontier. Through exhibits, audiovisual programs and living history interpretation, visitors may explore the daily routine of military service, experience the hardships of frontier isolation and discover the lifeways of another era. The park also includes the Copper Harbor Lighthouse Complex with a restored 1848 lightkeeper’s dwelling, 1866 lighthouse, and interpretive trails. The lighthouse complex is reached by boat daily through the summer season.

Watch a history of Fort Wilkins hosted by Pasty.NET
Pasty Cameos Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Fort Wilkins Birdseye

 

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