Beaver Island History
Beaver Island is the largest island found in Lake Michigan measuring 13 miles long and 6 miles wide. Our ferries travel 32 miles across Lake Michigan and is about a 2 hour boat ride.
There are vague historical references to Beaver Island in the early 1600’s but the first specific reference was made by Father Francis Xavier de Charlevoix who explored the Great Lakes in the 1720’s. In 1847 James Jesse Strang brought his small band of Mormons to Beaver Island, and in 1849 the town of St. James was established. Strang had himself crowned King and was the only king ever crowned in the United States. He was an extremely intelligent man and was elected to Michigan State Legislature for two terms. Through taxation issues and demanding obedience’s to unjust laws, Strang was shot on June 16, 1856. He was removed from the Island and died in Wisconsin.
Beaver Island then became populated by Irish Immigrants. Their descendants still make up the majority of the island population. In the 1900’s fishing was thriving and over a million pounds of fish were caught yearly. Although this depleted almost the whole fishing industry, many of the net sheds, boats, stores, company hoses, schools mills and farmsteads are still there.
Want to learn more? Join us for our guided Beaver Island Tours!