Fayette Historic State Park was once a bustling industrial community that manufactured charcoal pig iron for economical shipping to the Great Lakes steel companies. Named after Fayette Brown, the Jackson Iron Company agent who chose the site, Fayette was once one of the Upper Peninsula’s most productive iron-smelting operations. Located on the Garden Peninsula at Snail Shell Harbor, the town of Fayette grew up around two blast furnaces, a large dock, and several charcoal kilns after the Civil War. Nearly five hundred residents, many immigrating from Canada, the British Isles, and northern Europe, lived in and near the town that existed to make pig iron.
During the twenty-four years of operation, 1867 to l891, Fayette’s blast furnaces produced a total of 229,288 tons of iron, using local hardwood forests for fuel and quarrying limestone from the bluffs to purify the iron ore. When the charcoal iron market began to decline, the Jackson Iron Company closed its Fayette smelting operation.
When we arrived at Snail Shell Harbor, the sun was low on the horizon. You can see the furnaces and several of the buildings that represented this town. There are original pilings around the harbor and you can tie up on the wall that the old ships used to tie up on to gather the iron for transport. The wall was full so we set our anchor along with another sailboat. On one side of the harbor, there was a cliff wall of stone that reflected the colors of sunset so beautifully. A beautiful spot and we quickly lowered the dink to get ashore.
The town is really very interesting. The buildings have been set up as a museum so when you walk into them you can read what it was used for. You are free to walk around on your own and most of the artifacts were behind glass, but it was strange not to see at least one person who worked there. Some of the buildings have been restored while others are in their natural crumbled state. The ovens still stand and you can walk around inside them.
It was a lovely walk all around the area with a few cool pics taken. A lovely and historic spot that we highly recommend for history buffs.
The next day we headed south for the final leg of our trip. We stopped in Sturgeon Bay, Wi, and Sheboygan, WI, both at marinas we have stayed in before. Overall, we traveled 1095 miles and spent 26 days on the boat. Our longest leg was the first one at 210 miles straight through the night and part of the next day. We really enjoyed the North Channel and living on the boat for such a long time. The easiest thing-the scenery every day and night. The hardest planning for food for 30 days! I did ok on that and even had some food left over which we are enjoying on the weekends.