Fort Wilkins (1844-1870) - First established in 1844 at Copper Harbor in Keweenaw County, Michigan. Constructed by two companies of the 5th U.S. Infantry under General Hugh Brady and Captain R.E. Cleary. Named after Secretary of War William Wilkins. Abandoned in 1870.
Fort Wilkins History
Originally established on 28 May 1844 by two companies of the 5th U.S. Infantry from Detroit to protect copper miners from Chippewa Indians. The post was established on Michigan's Upper Peninsula at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula on Lake Superior.
The post was built out as a typical stockaded frontier fort with a central parade surrounded by the officer's quarters, enlisted barracks and a hospital. The powder magazine, guardhouse, sutler's store and quartermaster stores were located in back of the quarters. The stockade enclosed all of the structures on two sides with Lake Fannie Hooe and a creek forming the other two sides. The married enlisted quarters were outside the compound at the entrance to the post.
The post was deactivated two years later on 24 Jul 1846 when the garrison left for the Mexican War and was not reactivated until after the U.S. Civil War in 1867. Three years after the reactivation it was finally abandoned on 30 Aug 1870.
The post remained in private hands until 1923 when it became a State Park. The park personnel stabilized the few remaining buildings and supervised the reconstruction of the fort by the Work Projects Administration (WPA). The work was completed between 1939 and 1942. The improvements included a 200 car parking area, upgraded campsites, water and sewer systems, a park store and campground shower building.
Part of Fort Wilkins State Park. Surviving and restored features include:
The park itself now includes two camping areas that straddle the fort site and can accommodate tent campers to large RVs.
Location: Part of Fort Wilkins State Park in Keweenaw Point, near Copper Harbor, Keweenaw County, Michigan.
Maps & Images
Lat: 47.4662936 Long: -87.8648312
- Roberts, Robert B., Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States, Macmillan, New York, 1988, 10th printing, ISBN 0-02-926880-X, page 425
Visited: 3-5 Sep 2013
Fort Wilkins Picture Gallery
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