If you have ever been to St. Ignace you have probably seen the lighthouse at the end of the pier at Chief Wawatam Park. The park was named after the SS Chief Wawatam which was named after an Ojibwa chief of the 1700s; he was said to have rescued trader Alexander Henry during the Ojibwa uprising at Michilimackinac in 1763.
The massive concrete blocks are what is left of the dock where the ferry would tie up and offload rail cars. Built in 1911, the ship was a special combination icebreaker and ferry designed specifically for the Straits. It’s entire life it traveled back and forth from St Ignace to Mackinaw City. It continued to operate after the Mackinac Bridge was built because it carried train cars. By 1984 the railroad ceased operating the ferry and sold it to a Canadian company that converted it into a barge.
I don’t remember the days of ferries transporting cars and trains across the straits but I do remember the tracks and railyard that used to be in Mackinaw City. They were removed to build the Mackinaw Crossings Mall. The old depot still remains and is now a restaurant. I wish I had taken a photo of the old rail yard to remember what was. I guess that is why I take so many photos of random forgotten places. I figure it is nice to remember what used to be, not that I want to go back but I think remembering the past is a good way to help guide decisions for the future.
P.S. The story of the lighthouse at the end of the dock can be found HERE
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