Father Jacques Marquette spent just nine years in America, but he made a lasting impression.
In 1666, the area that is now Michigan was known as New France. Father Marquette, a Jesuit missionary, came to the area in 1666. He helped established the first settlements in the region at Sault Ste. Marie and St. Ignace.
But Father Marquette preferred to live among the Indians of the Great Lakes. He learned to speak the native languages and cemented tight bonds with local Native American tribes.
An intrepid explorer, Father Marquette went along as Louis Jolliet attempted to chart a water route to the Pacific Ocean. He and Jolliet traveled the Fox River, the Illinois River, the Chicago River, and the Mississippi Rvier as far as present-day Arkansas. This expedition is remembered as the French “discovery” of the Mississippi River.
In 1675, Farther Marquette fell ill with dysentery and died. He is now buried in St. Ignace.
Father Marquette National Memorial remembers the contributions of this dedicated missionary-explorer. On this spot high above the Straits of Mackinac, you can picnic, stroll the interpretive trail, and enjoy breathtaking views of the water and the Mackinac Bridge.