Father Marquette National Memorial
On a rise overlooking the Straits of Mackinac in the Upper Peninsula, the Father Marquette National Memorial commemorates the fascinating story of that 17th-century missionary-explorer and the intersection of French and Native American cultures deep in the North American wilderness.
America’s 35 existing National Memorials include the Washington Monument, Flight 93 in Pennsylvania, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, and Mount Rushmore. National memorials commemorate U.S. presidents, other historic figures including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Benjamin Franklin, and major wars in which Americans fought for freedom. This is Michigan’s only National Memorial, near St. Ignace.
France-born Jacques Marquette was in his early 30s when he helped found missions at Sault Ste. Marie in 1668 and St. Ignace in 1671. The Soo was Michigan’s first European settlement; Detroit was founded in 1701. Marquette and Louis Jolliet were the first Europeans to explore and map the northern portion of the Mississippi River. Marquette died at age 37.
The 58-acre National Memorial site opened to the public after President Gerald Ford signed into law H.R. 2724 in December 1975. Outdoor exhibits and interpretive trails complement a scenic Mackinac Bridge overlook and picnic area.
The Museum was destroyed by fire in 2000. A new museum will cost several million dollars to design and construct.
Heritage Michigan is helping identify sufficient private and community support for this project so important to bolstering Michigan’s national historical profile and to heritage tourism benefits for the Upper Peninsula.