Authored by Kerri Fitzgerald
March 24, 2017
Under The Radar: Beaver Island, Michigan
Beaver Island, known as the largest island in Lake Michigan, has been the home to many groups of people – Native Americans, a Mormon group, Irish immigrants and fishermen. At about 56-square-miles, the Island has a lot to offer from its beaches to its museums, shops, forests and the beautiful Beaver Island Light House.
Learn more about the days when the St. James Harbor was crowded with commercial activity at the Beaver Island Marine Museum. The museum opened in 1890 and serves to share past memories of the area through materials about shipbuilding and vessels that used to operate on Beaver Island.
Built in 1850, the Old Mormon Print Shop Museum was first used as a print shop. The shop produced the first newspaper in Northern Michigan and today is the general museum for the Beaver Island Historical Society. Inside the museum, visitors will find an exhibit on the stories and life of King James Jesse Strang, early Irish life on the island, Beaver Island’s musicians, and a display depicting Beaver Island throughout the years. Visit the museum to see archives including tapes, photos and diaries.
Noted as a part of the National Register, the Protar Home sits in a rural area of the island. Feodar Protar came to the United States in 1874 and moved to Beaver Island in 1893 where he established his home. He lived alone in a wooden cabin and later became an unlicensed physician and healer for the islands population. He earned the respect of his fellow neighbors through his ability to cure simple illnesses. Protar died in 1925. Visit the island to see the words inscribed on Protar’s gravesite, which read “to our Heaven-Sent Friend from his people of Beaver Island.”
Blount’s Magical Lake Michigan Cruise docks right in Beaver Island. Join Blount for a tour of the northern end of the island and harbor area. Explore the picturesque village of St. James including its lighthouse on Whiskey Point, shops, museums and churches. The tour proceeds to the west side of the island to see the spectacular Donegal Bay with views of High, Whiskey, Trout, and Garden Islands. End your tour with a visit to Protar’s home and tomb.