Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park
Today, Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park’s (9001 U.S. 23, 231/436-4100, www.mackinacparks.com, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily June–Aug., 9 a.m.–4 p.m. daily May and Sept.–mid-Oct., $7.50 adults, $4.50 children 5–17) exceptionally pretty glen and rushing stream creates a pleasant oasis for visitors, but it once was an innovative industrial site.
When the British made plans to move from Fort Michilimackinac to Mackinac Island, Scotsman Robert Campbell recognized their imminent need for lumber. He purchased 640 acres of the land around the only waterway in the area with enough flow to power a sawmill. He built the mill in 1790 and later added a blacksmith shop and gristmill.
The site was no longer profitable when the fort ceased operation, so it was abandoned in the mid-1800s. Since the 1970s, archaeologists and historians have worked together to re-create the water-powered sawmill on its original site.
Today, visitors to the 625-acre Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park can see the splashing waterwheel in action and visit the Orientation Center, which has an audiovisual presentation and displays on other artifacts uncovered during the dig. Make sure to walk the park’s 1.5 miles of trails, which wind along the creek and mill pond, rising up to scenic overlooks with views of the Straits and Mackinac Island.
by Laura Martone from Moon Michigan, 3rd Edition, © Avalon Travel