Sharing History: Summer at Fort Mackinac

By working as a soldier at Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island, Niall Farley’s summer job in Michigan is anything but ordinary. Today he shares a little bit about what this role entails.

I wake up a little before 8am, get ready and grab my bicycle for the short ride to work. Not uncommon for college-aged folks working summer jobs in Michigan, but my summer job is anything but common.

I am a soldier at Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island.

Now in my fourth season, I’m responsible for overseeing the daily interpretative programs as lead interpreter. Dressed as a sergeant in the U.S. Army in the 1880s, I lead tours through the fort, clean, prime, load and fire a model 1841 cannon and an original Springfield 45/70 rifle.

This is the 55th year of historical interpretive programming at Mackinac State Historic Parks. Each year, May through mid-October, we open our gates to visitors from every state and more than 50 countries. It’s one of my favorite parts of my job, seeing how much not just people from Michigan, but people from all over the world enjoy the view, the history and taking part in our interpretive programs

I was drawn to this job for a number of reasons–the chance to spend my summers on beautiful Mackinac Island, the opportunity to tell stories about this fascinating place, and of course, the hats.

During the winter, I study as an English major at Oakland University in Rochester Hills and live in my small hometown of Almont. While history has not been my area of study, I’ve become fascinated by the important events that have taken place throughout the Straits of Mackinac, and sharing them with visitors makes my every day at Fort Mackinac an enjoyable experience, it hardly seems like work.

Are you planning to explore the history at Fort Mackinac this summer? Share with us below!