Fort Holmes

Fort Holmes Mackinac Island

Fort Holmes is the highest point on Mackinac Island
and a great place to watch the sun set across the Straits of Mackinac.

The British successfully surprised the American garrison in Fort Mackinac by secretly dragging cannons to these heights at the beginning of the War of 1812. The U.S. Troops surrendered without firing a shot. The British then built a blockhouse and stockade and named it Fort George.

In 1814, the Americans tried to duplicate the surprise attack, but they were unsuccessful. A force of British Regulars and their Indian Allies defeated the Americans at the Battle of Mackinac Island. During this battle, an American, Major Hunter Holmes was killed in action. After the War, the Fort was re-named for the fallen major.

To understand the significance of Fort Holmes read about Mackinac Island's history by clicking here.

Fort Holmes

Today, the site affords visitors an extraordinary view of Fort Mackinac below, Round Island, the Straits of Mackinac, and the Mackinac Bridge.

History of Fort George...and a name change.

Fort Holmes is much higher than this view from Fort Mackinac.

It was first built by the British to help defend Mackinac Island's Fort Mackinac from an attack from the U.S. Army during the War of 1812. It was not built to be a full fledged fort but rather to function as an independent military fortification. So, originally it had a cannon, a simple blockhouse, and a place for storage for gunpowder and other munitions. Some people are disappointed when they climb up to Fort Holmes to only see a "mound of soil" without any elaborate structure on it. The British name for it was Fort George.

When United States armed forces reoccupied Mackinac Island in 1815 they renamed it to Fort Holmes. It was named for Major Andrew Holmes who died in the Battle of Mackinac Island in 1814.

Sometime during the Depression, a corps of CCC workers were assigned to Mackinac Island to rebuild Fort Holmes to its War of 1812 appearance.

Unfortunately, at this time most of the reconstructed buildings have again eroded to being just the timbered gateway to the interior of the site. But, still visit for the history of this great historic site is worth the trip. You will find your approximately 310 feet above the surface of Lake Huron seeing spectacular views of Straits of Mackinac.

Insider Tip: On July 4th climb up to it to watch the beautiful Mackinac Island fireworks. You will see far in the distance the fireworks from Cheboygan, Mackinaw City and St. Ignace. Breathtaking! Take a blanket and a bottle of wine!

Make sure you get your Mackinac Island hotel reservations early to not be disappointed.




There are so many wonderful things to see and do on the Island. Get more information about attractions and activities so you can plan your trip in advance.

Great Reading Mackinac Island Reading Material at Amazon by Mackinac Island Historians.


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