Mackinac Island, an island of upper Michigan. It is in the Straits of Mackinac near St. Ignace, at the northwestern end of Lake Huron. The rocky and wooded island is three miles (4.8 km) long and two miles (3.2 km) wide. It has been a summer resort since the mid-1800's; its Grand Hotel was opened in 1887. Automobiles are not permitted on the island; horse-drawn vehicles provide transportation during the summer tourist season. Nearly all the island is a state park. Fort Mackinac, built by the British in 1779-81, has been restored as a museum. picture titled Fort Mackinac.)
The Indians called the island Michili-mackinac (“Great Turtle,” for its shape). It was ruled by France before Britain occupied it in 1761. The United States has held the island since 1796, except for British occupation during the War of 1812. Mackinac Island was one of four settlements in newly created Michigan Territory (1905). From 1817 to 1842, as headquarters of the Northern Department of the American Fur Company, the island was the center of the fur trade in the Great Lakes area. William Beaumont's studies of digestion grew from surgery he performed here in 1822.