Beaver Island, Michigan, Lake Michigan’s largest island, is a Northern Michigan vacation in and of itself. Take the ferry or the plane and cross 40 miles of water from Charlevoix to reach this beautiful, off-the-beaten-path island.
Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the island for its trails, fishing, kayaking, boating. Two historic lighthouses round out this Great Lakes attraction. But you don’t know this island until you know its history. There is evidence that native people spent time on the island 2,200 years ago; its rich fishing resources made it an excellent spot for finding food. Trappers of European descent followed suit in the 1800s and organized two trading posts, but in 1848 James Strang, a Mormon leader, took over the island and established a religious colony. A few years later, Strang appointed himself kind, thus making Beaver Island the only kingdom in America.
Strang eventually became unpopular and was murdered, but the small farms and houses his people built set the stage for the island’s modern history, including the ensuing 30 years when the island became densely popluated by Irish people, earning it the nickname Emerald Isle.
History buffs and the curios will enjoy sifting through the island’s history at its original print shop, now The Old Mormon Print Shop Museum, and the Marine Museum, showcasing the island’s maritime history. The island is scattered with the remains of several old cabins and farms accessible via hiking trails.
Getting to Beaver Island, Michigan:
Hop a Ferry
The Beaver Island Boat Co. out of Charlevoix makes regular runs to the island. beaverisland.org
Board a Plane
Fresh Air Aviation from the Charlevoix Airport. freshairaviation.net
Island Airways from the Charlevoix Airport. islandairways.com
For more information on Beaver Island: beaverisland.org