Warehouse Research at Old Mackinac Point

The “warehouse” is one of the least documented structures at the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse Station, but our staff is piecing together its history and literally getting our hands dirty in the process.

It is believed that the warehouse was the 1890 fog signal building, relocated and repurposed after the brick fog signal building was constructed in 1907.  It was a frame structure, covered with corrugated iron.   Currently, Mackinac State Historic Parks is considering reconstructing the warehouse and performed some archaeological testing to determine if any evidence for the warehouse existed below ground.

Curator of Archaeology for Mackinac State Historic Parks Dr. Lynn Evans moves some soil from one of the test digs to the screen during the excavation process.

Curator of Archaeology for Mackinac State Historic Parks Dr. Lynn Evans moves some soil from one of the test digs to the screen during the excavation process.

A series of six 1′ x 1′ test pits were dug by Mackinac State Historic Parks’ Curator of Archaeology Dr. Lynn Evans this spring in accordance with photographic and historic evidence of the location of the warehouse. While no definitive evidence of the foundation of the warehouse was located, this was not wholly unexpected. Based on previous knowledge of the structure, it would not have required an elaborate foundation and would therefore leave little footprint behind. However, features relating to other uses of the site, such as the remnants of an old parking lot, were found, in addition to some smaller artifacts possibly associated with the warehouse–some nails and glass.

This bottom of a jar for Eskay's Albumenized Food. It was found in one of the test dig sites for the warehouse at Old Mackinac Point Light Station.

This bottom of a jar for Eskay’s Albumenized Food. It was found in one of the test dig sites for the warehouse at Old Mackinac Point Light Station.

One of the fascinating discoveries that resulted from these test digs was the bottom of a glass bottle, about 4.5″ in diameter and clearly marked with the words “Eskay’s Albumenized Food” on the bottom. A simple internet search revealed a large number of vintage advertisements for the product, manufactured by Smith, Kline and French Company in Philadelphia, ranging in date from 1899 to 1912, available for sale on eBay. The product was an “albumenized food” to be mixed with cow’s milk as a supplement or replacement for breast milk for infants.

While we do not know of infants in any of the keepers’ households, more research into the assistant keepers’ families may shed some light on who may have used this product.

For more information and updates about the archaeological excavations performed by Mackinac State Historic Parks, “Like” us on Facebook.

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