August 10, 2011
Fort Wilkins, photo by Neil Harri Aerial Photography
A number of years ago, I camped at Fort Wilkins State Park on Lake Fanny Hooe on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Hunts Guide to the UP says that Fort Wilkins was a typical 19th-century frontier garrison, the most northern in the U.S.:
The 1843 Keweenaw copper rush in this distant area, way beyond the frontier of settlement, led to building this small fort. From 1844 to 1846 the fort was the area’s only source of law and order. The government’s greatest concern was friction between native Indians and unruly miners. But little hostility actually broke out. By 1846 most of the small-time prospectors had left. Large mining companies had stabilized the region, so the fort was abandoned. It reopened after the Civil War, from 1867 to 1870, due to inadequate barracks facilities elsewhere in Michigan.
The army abandoned Fort Wilkins for good in the 1870s. Within two decades it had become a favorite picnic and camping destination. Local people appreciated its beautiful, forested location on Lake Fanny Hooe.
Today you can camp on the shores of the lake, which is still beautiful and forested and offers great fishing. They do some interpretive demonstrations at the park as well.
I couldn’t find a photo that I liked for the fort until I found these aerial shots in the photo gallery at the Fort Wilkins Natural History Association, a nonprofit that raises money to support and sponsor programs and special events at the park. They have some cool videos about the history of Fort Wilkins that are worth your time.
Neil Harri is a professional aerial photographer who also has some great Upper Peninsula photos, books and DVDs for sale through his website. The DVD aerial tours look especially cool and there are several from the Keweenaw including a historical aerial tour of Keweenaw’s Copper Ridge!
More Michigan aerial photography on Michigan in Pictures!