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Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park, Mackinaw City

4.5
#4 of 6 in Historic Sites in Cheboygan County
Historic Site Tourist Spot
Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park, formerly known as Historic Mill Creek State Park is a state park, nature preserve, and historic site in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is run by Mackinac State Historic Parks, the operating arm of the Mackinac Island State Park. 625 acres (2.5 kmĀ²) in size, the park is located 5 miles (8 km) southeast of Mackinaw City, Michigan on U.S. Highway 23.HistoryThe original sawmill at Mill Creek operated from about 1790 until 1839. It was originally built by Robert Campbell to supply lumber to the Straits of Mackinac, especially the frontier settlement of Mackinac Island. In 1793 it contracted with Fort Mackinac to make repairs on the soldiers' barracks. The Mill Creek sawmill enjoyed a dominant market share of the supply of cut timbers in the Straits of Mackinac during the fur trade era, and a millwright's house was built about 1820 near the sawmill to provide a place for the mill operator to live. In 1819, Michael Dousman purchased the mill site and continued to operate it. However, global demand for beaver fur declined in the 1830s, and following Dousman's death in 1839 the sawmill and millwright's house were abandoned.After the sawmill's abandonment in 1839, the original sawmill complex buildings rotted and disappeared. However, timbers cut by the original mill survived in buildings on Mackinac Island (Mission Church and Mission House, built in the 1820s and still there today). Saw marks on these timbers could be used to reconstruct the mill machinery so as to closely resemble the original. The marks gave restoration experts information on the rake of the saw's teeth and the saw's operating speed. The wood is fed into the blade at 1/3 of an inch per stroke, and the infeed motion is powered by the pitman arm that powers the saw's vertical movement.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
280 reviews
Google
4.4
  • We went there to do the zip line. It was a tour about a mile through the woods. We bought the package that allowed us to use the old Fort , the old historic lighthouse and the Discovery Park. There's ...  more »
  • We had a decision to make as to what attraction we would visit while at the Straits of Mackinaw. We chose the Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park and it was a beautiful, relaxing and an informative att...  more »
  • Very informative. Great presentation. Incredible views of Island. Great nature trails. Advice, bring an all terrain stroller.  more »
Google
  • Great experience!! Great history, beautifully presented. Best site around Mackinac to visit. We didn't even get to experience the zip line or bridge (weather) but still well worth it!
  • I really enjoyed this more than I thought. Pristine and well groomed trails, nice overviews. The Saw-Mill demonstration was incredible. You get to what an in-character lumber jack demonstrate old-time wood cutting methods and the operation of the rebuild mill as a contrast between how lumber was cut without a mill. Plus you get to learn about the history of the area. I thought the Zip-line and Rock Climbing add-on tickets were a little pricey, but the kids loved (hey they're no paying for it) and I'd do it again
  • Very cool place, variety for kids and adults. I enjoyed the water driven sawmill demonstration and my daughter enjoyed the zip lines and rock climbing wall.
  • Very cool historical place. The working saw mill was really interesting.
  • The water powered lumber mill is really quite cool. The park offers a bit of history, a few lessons in engineering, a zip line, and hiking opportunities. Our family has considered it time well spent in all phases of growing up (except the early teenage years - they hate everything).

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