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This tiny Michigan island once had its own king

Welcome to Beaver Island

This Michigan island is one of the only places to ever have a king in United States history.

Even if you frequently travel Up North, there’s a decent chance you haven’t heard of Beaver Island. Located 32 miles off the coast of Charlevoix, in Lake Michigan, Beaver Island is the lake’s largest island, measuring 13 miles long and 6 miles wide. Its history is truly unique.

The story of Beaver Island

Beaver Island is one of only a handful of places to have had a self-proclaimed monarchy. It's interesting to think about how that would have worked, considering the island is only accessible by boat or plane.

Here's a look at how it all happened -- information is from the Beaver Island Boat Company:

There are vague historical references to Beaver Island in the early 1600's but the first specific reference was made by Father Francis Xavier de Charlevoix who explored the Great Lakes in the 1720's. In 1847 James Jesse Strang brought his small band of Mormons to Beaver Island, and in 1849 the town of St. James was established.

Strang had himself crowned King and was the only king ever crowned in the United States. He was an extremely intelligent man and was elected to Michigan State Legislature for two terms. Through taxation issues and demanding obedience's to unjust laws, Strang was shot on June 16, 1856. He was removed from the Island and died in Wisconsin.

Beaver Island then became populated by Irish Immigrants. Their descendants still make up the majority of the island population. In the 1900's fishing was thriving and over a million pounds of fish were caught yearly.

Although this depleted almost the whole fishing industry, many of the net sheds, boats, stores, company hoses, schools mills and farmsteads are still there.

There's a brewery there

Whiskey Point Brewing Co. may be one of the hardest breweries to reach in the entire country. But that’s what makes it so cool. Take a trip to the island with Uniquely Detroit’s Alex Atwell.


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