Mackinac Island Passenger Ferries

Mackinac Island Passenger Ferries (HM2LMI)

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N 45° 46.877', W 84° 43.453'

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Mackinaw City Historical Pathway

Passenger ferries to Mackinac Island have existed since the late 1870s. Today three ferry lines serve the island.

Transportation across the Straits of Mackinac, whether to St. Ignace or Mackinac Island, began with the versatile birch bark canoe. Indians developed and perfected the canoe that the early white residents were quick to adopt. These canoes might be considered the first ferries since they carried both people and possessions.

But passenger ferries to Mackinac Island, as we know them, began in the late 1800s. In 1878 George T. Arnold and L. B. Coats formed the first ferry line, the Arnold and Coats Ferry Line, a business that grew into Arnold Mackinac Island Ferry.

Business boomed with the growth of summer visitors and the opening of the Grand Hotel in 1887. After World War II the growing business was sufficient to support a water-taxi service that grew into a second ferry line business, Shepler's Mackinac Island Ferry.

The resultant competition forced the use of more efficient and faster diesel-powered boats. These boats could cross to the island in 30-35 minutes with a crew of five. By the 1960s the type of boats we see today were being built.

The third ferry line, Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry, started in 1979. Their signature plume of water spurting out

of the back of the boat was introduced in 1988.

Today's high-speed aluminum-hulled ferries speed along at 20 to 30 mph and cross the Straits in about 15 minutes with a crew of three.
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, October 8th, 2019 at 11:01am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16T E 676910 N 5072265
Decimal Degrees45.78128333, -84.72421667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 45° 46.877', W 84° 43.453'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds45° 46' 52.62" N, 84° 43' 27.18" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling East
Closest Postal AddressAt or near , ,
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