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Mackinac Island is a city, and an island in Lake Huron, between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. It includes the uninhabited Round Island, to the south.

The island is known for its lack of automobiles, and that has been the case since 1898, when an ordinance was passed banning all private automobiles, although the island does have motorized emergency vehicles, including a police car, ambulance, and fire truck. M-185, which runs for about eight miles along the outside of the island, is the only motorless state highway in the United States.

Although the island has fewer than five hundred year-round residents, it brings in more than ten thousand tourists a day during the summer.

There are no bridges leading to Mackinac Island, but ferry service is provided from Mackinaw City and St. Ignace. People may also arrive by private boat or by air, as the island does have an airport.

It should be no surprise that the island hosts several hotels and other guest accommodations. The most famous is the Grand Hotel, on the west side of the island, which has a 660-foot-long porch and has hosted presidents and other famous people over the years. There are no chain hotels on the island, however.

Visitors can tour Fort Mackinac and Fort Holmes, as well as one of the museums on the island, as the island has a long and interesting history.

When Europeans first came to the island in the 17th century, Native Americans had inhabited it for centuries, including the Seneca, the Ottawa, and the Menominee, not necessarily in that order.

According to Andrew Blackbird, an Ottawa historian, an independent tribe known as the Mi-shi-ne-macki naw-go occupied the island until they were almost entirely annihilated by a group of Seneca from western New York. Only two of the local tribe survived by hiding in one of the island's natural caves. To commemorate this lost tribe, the Ottawa named the island Mi-shi-ne-macki-nong.

Early Europeans included Father Jacques Marquette, who traveled throughout the Great Lakes region. The French built a fort on the south side of the Straits of Mackinac and named it Fort Michilimackinac. As a result of the Treaty of 1773, the British took control of the fort, and moved it from its location near what is now Mackinaw City to the island, renaming it Fort Mackinac. Control passed to the United States in 1795. During the War of 1812, the British again took control of the fort, and also built Fort George, north of Fort Mackinac, as an adjunct military fortification to help defend Fort Mackinac from attack by U.S. forces. When the United States reoccupied the island in 1815, Fort George was renamed Fort Holmes, but it was soon abandoned and soon disappeared. The current Fort Holmes was rebuilt by the WPA in 1936, using the 1817 American survey to rebuild it to its War of 1812 specifications. In 2015, Mackinac Island State Park completed the second reconstruction of Fort Holmes, as it had again deteriorated.

Although the fort and the island were often used by British and American military forces during the 18th and 19th centuries, its population was largely Native American until the mid-19th century.

The island transitioned into a resort destination in the mid-to-late-1800s. Fort Mackinac maintained a garrison of soldiers, but it was not otherwise in use. During the Mexican-American War and for long periods during the Civil War, care of Fort Mackinac was left to an ordnance sergeant, although it was used as a prison for three Confederate political prisoners for a short time.

In 1875, the Mackinac National Park was created to preserve the island's scenic and historic sites, and twenty years later control of the park was passed to the State of Michigan, and the park was renamed Mackinac Island State Park.

Mackinac Island was incorporated as a village on March 25, 1847, and by the end of the century hotels and stores were opened on the island. Mackinac Island became a city in 1899.

Round Island is owned and operated by the United States Forest Service, and managed as part of the Round Island Wilderness Area and the Hiawatha National Forest. Officially, its boundaries are restricted to Mackinac Island itself, although Round Island is nominally considered part of the city.

Mackinac Island is 4.35 square miles in total area and about eight miles in circumference. Its highest point is the area of Fort Holmes, which is 320 feet above lake level and 890 feet above sea level. The geography of the island is characterized by its steep cliffs and limestone formations.

Except for those that might come across on the ice in the winter, the island has no large mammals, although fox, rabbits, raccoons, otters, mink, and squirrels are common, and there are some beaver and coyotes. Bats are numerous because of the natural caves on the island. The island is frequented by migratory birds, and others are there year-round.


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