Guns Across The Straits: An Amazing Experience At Colonial Michilimackinac
Colonial Michilimackinac has been a part of family trips to Mackinaw City for more than 60 years, with visitors enjoying a stroll through the 18th century fort at the base of the Mackinac Bridge. I recently had the chance to visit the fort for the first time in more than a decade as part of a friend’s bachelor party, which also included the awesome “Guns Across the Straits” program. Today we will take a look at some photos from our Colonial Michilimackinac visit as well as the details of Guns Across the Straits program. Colonial Michilimackinac will be open through October this year, so there’s plenty of time to plan your 2023 visit!
The French established a fort here in 1715, and it was a major fur trading outpost in addition to being a military outpost. The fort changed hands several times, with the British taking it over after the French and Indian War (1761), the Ojibwe briefly taking control after staging an ambush disguised as a lacrosse game (1763), and the British again taking control before building a fort on Mackinac Island in 1781 as a replacement. Many of the buildings have been reconstructed as accurately as possible and Colonial Michilimackinac now portrays the complex as it looked in the 1770s.
Visitors are able to walk through buildings and see where soldiers lived, where food was prepared, where the church and jail were, and where ammunition and weapons were stored. Archaeological digs have recovered many artifacts and are still ongoing. One of the coolest exhibits here is the “Treasures from the Sand” exhibit under one of the row houses, which shows how the process of archaeological digs here works as well as some of the items that have been uncovered. Interpreters in costume are on hand to answer questions about what life was like here. Videos and programs are available throughout the day for an even more immersive experience.
Now, let’s talk about Guns Across the Straits. When I saw this program was a thing, it immediately sounded like something our friend Matt would love. For a fee, this program allows one person a day the chance to fire four of the fort’s powder weapons at closing time. This includes a short land musket, the wall gun, mortar, and cannon. The history and function of each one was explained to our group before Matt fired each one. Having Lake Michigan and the Mackinac Bridge in the background provides an epic background for photos, and as you can see we got a few shots that will be on the wall for years to come. Enjoy this photo gallery, and consider making Guns Across the Straits a part of your next visit to Colonial Michilimackinac! Thank you to Nathan Boyce for additional photos and Matt Roth for being the Guns Across the Straits participant.