Fayette Historic State Park
Fayette Historic, United States
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Fayette Historic State Park is a state park and historic townsite near Fayette in the U.S. state of Michigan. Located on the Big Bay de Noc of Lake Michigan on the southern side of the Upper Peninsula, it was the site of an industrial community that manufactured charcoal pig iron between 1867 and 1891. The town has been reconstructed into a living museum showing what life was like in this town in the late 19th century.
Fayette was once one of the Upper Peninsula's most productive iron-smelting operations. Fayette grew up around two blast furnaces, a large dock and several charcoal kilns after the Civil War. Nearly 500 residents—many immigrating from Canada, the British Isles, and northern Europe—lived in and near the town that existed to make pig iron. During 24 years of operation Fayette's blast furnaces produced a total of 229,288 tons of iron, using local hardwood forests for fuel and quarrying limestone from the bluffs to purify the iron ore. When the charcoal iron market began to decline, the Jackson Iron Company closed its Fayette smelting operations in 1891. Another event leading to the demise of the Jackson Iron Company was the use of the hardwoods and limestone to purify the iron, leading to the exhaustion of hardwoods in the area. This was the main source for purifying the iron and therefore led to the decline of the Jackson Iron Company. After shutting down the smelting operations many residents left Fayette in search of employment elsewhere, though some residents stayed and used the land for farming.
Today, Fayette Historic Townsite is a living museum with many restored buildings. Visitors may walk through the buildings to learn about life in Fayette during the late 19th century. Over 20 buildings are open, with restoration continuing on other parts of the town.
The townsite is open daily for visitors from approx. May through October. A visitors center and museum store are also located at the park. There is no admission charge; however, a Michigan State Park permit is required. For more information consult the State of Michigan Fayette page.
There are 61 semi-modern campsites as of 2006[update]. Facilities include electrical service to all campsites and access to vault toilets and water. Most campsites are well shaded. Boat camping is allowed in Snail Shell Harbor, and space is on a first-come, first-serve basis. There is a beach on Sand Bay (Lake Michigan) just a short distance from the campground. The picnic area is adjacent to the beach and offers a picnic shelter, grills and vault toilets. Playground equipment and horsehoe courts are available.
The park offers approx. 5 miles (8.0 km) of hiking trails. The trails are groomed in the winter for cross-country skiing. Trails wind through a hardwood forest, up beside dolomite cliffs (which are part of the Niagara Escarpment) and throughout the historic townsite.
The historic settlement is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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