The Fort Wilkins Complex was built on the rugged shore of Lake Superior in 1844 and represents an example of a nineteenth century military post. Surrounded by water and forest, Fort Wilkins offers visitors an opportunity to explore the daily routine of military service and experience the hardships of frontier isolation.
Begun in 1844 and abandoned just two years later, the fort was briefly regarrisoned in the late 1860s. Long a popular resort for outdoor enthusiasts, the fort became a state park in 1923. Today, Fort Wilkins is a well-preserved example of mid-19th century army life on the northern frontier. Nineteen buildings survive 12 of them original structures dating from the 1840s. Through Fort Wilkins' exhibits, audiovisual programs and living history interpretation, visitors may explore the daily routine of military service, experience with soldiers' families the hardships of frontier isolation and discover the lifeways of another era. Fort Wilkins became a State Park in 1923 and was extensively restored in the 1930s. Camping, fishing, a boat launch, RV parking and hiking trails are combined with modern camping facilities along the shores of beautiful Lake Fanny Hooe. Electrical hookups, fire pits and hot showers are available to all 165 campsites. Visitors can also take a tour of the Copper Harbor Lighthouse built in 1866 and featuring maritime artifacts. The site of the first (1848) Copper Harbor light was a mystery until archaeologists discovered remains of it in 1975, in front of the present steel tower. In 1994 members of the annual archaeology field school sponsored by the Michigan Historical Center and Michigan Technological University excavated the site. They found architectural clues including lantern glass from the original tower and cut stones still covered with the original whitewash. What happened to the tower? The archaeological evidence and the 1866 lighthouse cellar provided clues. Examination of the 1866 lighthouse cellar showed that many of its stones were also coated with whitewash. Archaeologists concluded that nearly 80 percent of the original tower was reused for the 1866 lighthouse foundation.
This fort was strategically placed on the shores of Lake Superior to thwart off any possible future attacks by enemies attempting to attack by boat across Lake Superior. This historical place will take you back when life was simple and so were the people who live there, this place represents a large historical value to Michigan for years to come.