As part of my continuing, “Northern Exposure” series I went to Garden, Michigan for a walk back in time inside The Fayette Historic State Park.
Just over 100 years ago Fayette was home to about 500 people, more than half of which were children under the age of 17.
At the turn of the 19th century, life wasn’t all fun and games for kids.
Millions of children worked 10–16 hour days in factories and mines because their families needed the income.
The culture of the labor–intensive generation have been preserved at the Fayette Historic State Park, allowing visitors to get a true taste of it’s history while taking in a remarkable view.
‘Its an amazing place and I was just imagining what life must have been like back then. Kind of tough, isolated but it’s a beautiful setting,” said Alan Hanson, 1st time visitor.
“My favorite place is, the cliffs, I love the cliffs. They are really beautiful and something to see,” said Lori Taylor–Blitz, DNR Tour Guide.
“You have the beauty of this area and where we are standing right now you have the lake over there, the cliffs behind us, we’re out on a little point so you see just beauty, trees, rocky formations all around, it’s kind of neat,” said Judy Handon, 1st time visitor.
Tour guides at the park walk side by side with visitors, stopping to highlight interesting historical tidbits that paint a better picture of what life was like in the old Iron Smelting town.
“One of the more interesting aspects of this state park is that the old company grounds are part of the park grounds and that means that you can actually go inside and explore many of these post civil war buildings,” reports, Danielle Davis.
Fayette Village has 20 restored buildings, each sporting descriptions of what life was like back then.
“I Like the salt box look of the old buildings and they are so well preserved. They have a nice miniature village of this place and that was gorgeous, we are just getting started on the tour and I am excited to see what the buildings are all about.”
“It’s an awesome sight looking out on the water of course, the cliffs behind us are fantastic.
So picturesque in fact that we ran into a wedding party and the bride said she couldn’t imagine getting married any place else.
“Because it’s so beautiful, there is lots of history. Because of all of the beautiful buildings, we love the scenery and the rocks, the shoreline, everything was just perfect for it,” said Kayla Carlson.
And although the U.P. is expansive, there’s a good chance that you’ll run into a fourth or fifth generation Till – kin to one of the historic men that put the Iron Smelting town on the map.