Fort Wilkins

A beautiful June afternoon and Elizabeth and I both took lots and lots of pictures – so I’ll stretch them over a couple posts.

We drove back up to Copper Harbor and Fort Wilkins – a fort where nothing ever happened.

(I remember being there was Ken and talking to one of the guides who was in period costume and role playing his part. The soldier said that his tour of duty was about finished at Fort Wilkins and he was heading out West to join those forces. Ken had quite a conversation with him, warning him against joining up with General Custer. The conversation was very funny.)

Anyhow – we had thought about visiting the fort a few days earlier, but were stopped at the gate with someone who said we had to pay quite a bit because we weren’t from Michigan (it’s a state park). That day had been rainy and so we decided to think about it – not wanting to pay to walk around in the rain.

Now we were back … the day was beautiful and I told her I used to live in Michigan. That didn’t work, but because we only wanted a day pass – I think it cost $9.00. Which was well spent.

WHAT: Fort Wilkins is on a natural harbor so when the copper rush of the 1840s happened, a lot of men from all over came to find their fortune.  The government decided they needed a fort to control the supplies being shipped in and the copper being shipped out.

The fort was also built to keep peace between the miners and the local natives … however, the miners turned out to be rather law-abiding and the natives didn’t really care that they were there. The fort was used again after the Civil War to house soldiers who hadn’t completed their tour of duty.

But 27 first buildings were built on a beautiful piece of land.

And it is very well done.

WHERE: On the tip of the Keweenaw, outside of Copper Harbor. (Also a campground in the park.)

AND: I’m guessing they’ve recently renovated the fort because it’s very well done. Elizabeth and I were both impressed with the exhibits and thought they were cleverly put together and captioned. The grounds are well-kept and during the ten weeks of summer, there are guides in period costumes that role play their parts.

Here’s what Elizabeth wrote in her journal. “One of the first things we found that we thought was pretty cool, was they had some whites (you know, white laundry) hanging up on a clothes line except every “white” had one step of washing the laundry, So since they didn’t have washing machines, there were quite a few steps – I think about 8-10. 

We also saw the blacksmith and bakery. I got to take a loaf of bread out of an oven with one of those giant paddle things. The rest of the rooms were cool, too. I even got to go inside an old jail cell.

At the library, one of the acting soldiers came up an talked to us. He said that they got around 25 sheep that weren’t supposed to be there and they had gotten away.

KID FACTOR: Most of the exhibits were kid friendly and there was a lot of room to run around. I would definitely recommend this to someone who is looking for something to do with the kids on the peninsula.

And now – a LOT of pictures.  (Tonight – scenery)

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