Way up in the UP's Keweenaw Peninsula lies Fort Wilkins. It's just below the Copper Harbor lighthouse, so a roadtrip there will lead you to a lot of stuff.

The fort was constructed in 1844, not as a fortification to defend the land from enemies...it was intended to keep law and order during the area's involvement in the Upper Peninsula copper boom. When copper was discovered in the 1830s, a copper rush was inevitable. In the 1840s, an influx of copper hunters invaded the land, hoping to find enough ore to make their fortunes. Seeing the possible problems with this rush, Secretary of War William Wilkins commissioned and established the construction of Fort Wilkins in 1844.

Life for enlisted men during this time was harsh during winter, and when you visit, you'll witness where they lived, how they lived, what they ate, how they rationed their food, and how they survived. Enlisted men who were married had their own separate quarters where the family could stay as well.

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The fort grounds became a state park in 1923. As its popularity grew, changes were necessary. Restorations began in the 1930s, with new duplicate buildings standing among some of the restored originals...can you tell which is which?

Just a tad north of the fort is Copper Harbor and their two historic lighthouses, built in 1866 and 1868. There is also a campground nearby where you can set up for a few days, giving you the chance to soak everything in, from the lighthouses, to the old barracks...and even to an unsuccessful copper mining site on fort grounds.

Sure, it's a trek if you live beneath the bridge...but that's what roadtrips are for. There are many other unique things to see as you head up the Keweenaw Peninsula toward Fort Wilkins. Take a look at the gallery below to see some old fort photos as well as some current ones!

Fort Wilkins, Then and Now

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Abandoned U.P. Ramshackle House

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