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Just 3 years after its creation of Yellowstone National Park, Congress designated Mackinac Island as the country’s second national park on this day in 1875. Senator Thomas Ferry introduced the strategic legislation. In addition to the island’s attractive history and natural features, the U.S. government already owned much of the island as part of the Fort Mackinac military reservation. Ferry figured the soldiers stationed at Fort Mackinac could act as caretakers. As a result, the park would cost almost nothing, but would be a way to help preserve the island. Eventually, the War Department refused to provide extra funding to pay the soldiers of Fort Mackinac to simply maintain and improve a national park. After 20 years, the closure of the fort necessitated the end of Mackinac’s national park status. Instead, the property was given to the State of Michigan and became its first state park.

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