Experience the Charm of Fort Wilkins State Park
Ft. Wilkins State Park is the northernmost of all Michigan Parks and sits atop the Keweenaw Peninsula north of Copper Harbor. Ft Wilkins is very picturesque and is located between Lake Superior on the north and Lake Fanny Hooe on the south. Ft. Wilkins is also a historical site, having begun in 1844 as an active US Army post to keep the peace in nearby Copper Harbor during the early boon days of copper.
History of the Park
The 1843 copper boom on the Keweenaw Peninsula began the first great mining rush in United States history, bringing wealth, industry, and communities to the tip of Michigan. Copper became the mineral that made possible modern communications and electricity. The Army abandoned the Fort just two years later but briefly re-garrisoned it again in the last 1860s. Fort Wilkins was finally abandoned in 1870 when the copper market declined. Nineteen buildings survive at Ft. Wilkins, twelve of which are original structures from the 1840s.
Reenactments in the Fort
Today actors recreate life in the 1860s and turn these 19 buildings into a living history complex. The park has numerous exhibits throughout the Fort, including audiovisual programs and re-enactments, which presents a living history interpretation. Visitors can explore the daily routine of military service, learn of the hardships of frontier isolation, and discover the culture of a historical era – 1870: A Living History Experience. Role-playing interpreters bring history to life at the 1844 fort, usually during the summer months. Check their event page at www.michigan.gov/historicfortwilkins as it changes from year to year.
Park and Campground
Fort Wilkins Historic State Park is located one mile east of Copper Harbor. A Michigan State Parks Vehicle Permit is required to enter the park. The campgrounds in the park have 159 sites divided into three separate campgrounds, the east, the west, the new west campground extension, and group sites. Electrical service begins at the end of April, and the showers and toilet facilities. The park has one mini-cabin, with electricity and bunk and mattresses, and is designed to sleep four.
The park has swimming facilities to Lake Fanny Hooe, and there is a walkable path to Lake Superior. Lake Fanny Hooe generally warms up by mid-summer and allows for swimming. Lake Fanny Hooe has mysteries that you will want to learn about, and at times it is a mystery where all the fish in the lake disappear, but people do catch walleye, perch, and other panfish.
There are incredible scenic spots to visit while at Ft. Wilkins that you will not want to miss. The beauty of Lake Superior, the quaintness of Copper Harbor, and all the sunrises and sunsets your heart could desire. This area has something for everyone.
The Copper Harbor Lighthouse was built in 1848 and has now been restored and is open to tours throughout the summer months for a fee. The Estivant Pines, a 508-acre nature sanctuary, is only several miles away. Brockway Mountain Drive is an absolute must for anyone visiting the area and will provide spectacular vistas and unbelievable sunrises and sunsets. Also, in the spring of the year, thousands of hawks migrating north to Canada fly at arms-length away along the precipices of the mountain.
The Delaware Mine, an old copper mine, has tours that take you down into the mine and allow you to experience the mining attempts and lifestyles underground. And specialty shops of Copper Harbor are just waiting to be explored. Unique gifts, gems, crafts, and woodwork awaits your interest. Copper Harbor is also the departure point for the Isle Royale Queen, which makes trips back and forth to the queen of all isles. The Maganese Falls are also right in the heartbeat of Copper Harbor, giving you that sense of treasure hunting.