The last time I visited Mackinac Island I walked to the spot where Fort Holmes used to stand…all it was, was a hole in the ground on a hill with rocks. But it has been restored since I was there, and now I have to go back to see the replica.

The original Fort Holmes was a small fortress, sitting atop the highest point on Mackinac Island. Even so, it was dwarfed by the majestic Fort Mackinac just down the hill. The fort was made of earth and wood in 1814 by British Soldiers as ‘Fort George’ named for King George III of England. The War of 1812 was raging, and the fort was a necessity to protect Fort Mackinac from the United States. That’s right – the Brits were afraid the U.S. was gonna attack the fort. And they guessed right: the U.S. attacked that summer.

U.S. soldiers ultimately reoccupied Mackinac Island but not without their losses. One of their fallen was Major Andrew Hunter Holmes who was killed in the battle. The fort was thereby re-named in his honor and it’s been that way ever since.

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After only a few years, interest in the fort was gone, the soldiers all left, and the fort was abandoned, rotting away…even faster than usual thanks to its elevation and harsh winter winds and weather.

Renovation and rebuilding of Fort Holmes was underway in the 1930s with the fort walls and blockhouse restored for tourist viewing and visiting. Over the decades, the fort became decomposed all over again, and just a hole in the ground was left after the rotted wood was hauled away. But now, a newer, better-built ‘Fort Holmes’ has been constructed and sits on that original site, a glorious look into what the original was like.

The gallery below shows some cool old photos of the rotted original fort, the 1930s reconstruction, and the current version of Fort Holmes…take a look!

Fort Holmes, Mackinac Island


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