Fayette Historic State Park – Delta County
Few state parks in Michigan can provide the trip back in time to the 19th century that Fayette Historic State Park does. With more than 20 buildings that have been restored this park shows visitors what life was like back when this area was producing hundreds of thousands of tons of iron and had around 500 residents. A visitor center greets visitors with interpretive displays (including a scale-model replica of the former town) and a gift shop, while a paved sidewalk leads down a small hill and into the heart of Fayette.
The largest intact structure is the pair of blast furnaces, which tower above all of the other buildings are were once the “heart” of the entire operation. Next to the furnaces is one of the few remaining charcoal kilns in the state:
The view opposite the furnace is truly a sight to behold, as dolomite cliffs tower over Snail Shell Harbor. Pilings from old docks line the water here, and it isn’t hard to think of what this area used to look like. We explored a trail that winds around the harbor and then follows the Lake Michigan shore around a small peninsula. Among the structures on this loop were rows of dwellings, a doctor’s office and the company agent’s home seen below:
One of the bigger structures back in the main cluster of buildings is what remains of the former company store, which was a multi-level building that sold all of the necessary supplies for residents.
Another tall building is the former hotel, which was being renovated even further when we were there. The weathered look of the wood siding really adds to the “ghost town” feel here.
One of the most aesthetically beautiful structures is the machine shop, which features multi-colored brick on the outside with decorative doors and windows and wood floors and ceilings inside. Multiple displays inside show how this building was utilized for blacksmithing and other activities when this area was booming.
The location of Fayette keeps it from being visited as much as other parks in the Upper Peninsula, but we found the 15-mile trip south from US-2 to be well worth our time and effort. There are also more than 60 semi-modern campsites here. Anyone who enjoys Michigan history will have an amazing time here, and for those with just a casual interest there are miles of hiking trails and an incredibly scenic shoreline.