Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Bikes and Horses and Pretty Hotels

The highlight of our time on the Straits of Mackinac was our visit to Mackinac Island on Saturday. The European settlement in the Straits began in 1671 when Fr. Jacques Marquette established a mission ot Huron Indians on Mackinac Island. During our Revolutionary War, the British dismantled a fort on the mainland and moved the garrison and fur trade community to Mackinac Island. A fort was built on a steep limestone bluff on the island. When we won our independence from the British, the fort and island became US territory. During the War of 1812, Great Britain captured the fort, which didn't return to US hands till we won that war.

Following the Civil War, Mackinac Island became a popular summer resort. In 1895 the first automobile appeared on the island. Three years later, after receiving a petition from the drivers of horse-drawn tour carriages, the village council quickly banned "horseless carriages." This action preserved the island's late 19th century atmosphere and has led to the current traffic crush of bicycles and horses.

We rode the ferry to the island, taking our bikes with us. Here is where we disembarked on Main Street.

Mackinac Island is a very popular tourist destination and bikes are everywhere.

This is just one of numerous places to rent bikes on the island.

Bike riders share the streets with horse-drawn carriages that give tours or serve as taxis. At the top of the photo you can see Fort Mackinac.

Here you see the horse and wagon serving the Grand Hotel, the largest hotel on the island.

To tour the Grand Hotel, you have to be a guest, come for lunch, or pay a fee. Since we didn't plan to do any of those, I took a picture from our ferry. Pretty impressive, isn't it?

Apparently the folks who drive the horses have to wear seat belts so they won't be thrown off if the horses turn into runaways. You can see the belt if you look closely at this photo.

Because the only automobiles allowed on the island are police, fire and rescue vehicles, horses and bikes are used to haul all sorts of things. We saw a bell hop from a hotel carrying three large suitcases on a bicycles. You would really have to tip him when they arrived!

Here was a wagon being hauled along the main street of the town.

And another carrying supplies to one of the hotels.

We rode our bikes around the island. The 8-mile Lake Shore Boulevard (Michigan-185) is the only road in the state where cars are banned.

As you can see, on a clear day the waters of Lake Huron are incredibly blue. This is Arch Rock, one of the interesting formations in the limestone that are visible from Lake Shore Blvd.

We also saw Devil's Kitchen.

There are real hazards to sharing the road with horses.

Sea Gulls are everywhere, and they especially love picnic spots.

As we rode by, this mother duck quickly called her ducklings to her side. Aren't they cute?

A large group of Girl Scouts had come to the island for the day. Their uniforms sure have changed since my day.

Many of the downtown businesses had beautiful baskets of hanging flowers, including this small hotel.

On our way to board the ferry to return to the mainland, we saw lots of kites flying in the wind. They sure are fun to look at, aren't they?

A distinctive characteristic of the ferries operated by the company we used to get to Mackinac Island is the rooster tail behind each ferry. I took this picture of one of they ferries, which operate every half hour all day.

1 comment:

  1. Nice tour - Mackinac Island is certainly one of the most unique places I've ever been.