Groups that visit Fayette Historic Townsite in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula experience a remarkably intact 19th-century iron smelting company town.
The community manufactured charcoal pig iron between 1867 and 1891.
Over 20 historic structures, including the blast furnace, hotel, town hall and superintendent’s house are preserved in a museum village setting near Garden, Michigan.
Groups get a guided tour of the townsite, which highlights the social history town, architecture and iron smelting process. Then, visitors can explore museum exhibits inside many of the buildings to learn more about the town, people and industry.
The limestone bluff and Lake Michigan harbor provide a picturesque backdrop for the townsite. The scenery alone is worth the visit, said Troy Henderson, the Upper Peninsula staff historian for the Michigan History Center. Henderson runs the interpretive program at Fayette.
Visitors enjoy the site’s multidimensional historical aspects. Learn about individuals who actually worked in the 1880s on the site and see museum period rooms to envision what a typical house or business looked like. Visitors learn about historic preservation as well as the iron industry and its importance to the expanding nation.
Henderson said there is a lot of history presented in different ways at Fayette, and visitors enjoy that because there is something for everybody.
“There were about 500 people who lived and worked in Fayette in the 1870s and 1880s, and we hope to breathe life into the company town in our exhibits and interpretation,” Henderson said. “I hope people who visit the site can take away or envision the feel of the town when it was bustling with energy.”
Randy Brown, park manager, said the only fee for entry is a Michigan State Park Commercial Bus Recreation Passport, which allows entry in any state park for the date it is issued.
Guided tours are offered if scheduled in advance. Fayette has a modern Visitor Center with a museum store and large panoramic model of the Fayette in the 1880s.
Special accessibility accommodations can also be made in advance of a visit.
For more information on Fayette Historic Townsite, call 906-644-2603 or go to michigan.gov/fayettetownsite.