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Future of Welcome


  Scroll down to view the 'Welcome . . . Home' ceremony.



Building the Welcome


The replica Welcome was built by the Mackinac Island State Park Commission at Fort Michilimackinac for the 200th anniversary of Independence Day. She served as a window to the past for many years, allowing visitors the chance to see a facet of American history often forgotten. Her deck length is 55 ft. and overall sparred length is 87 ft. Her depth is 7 ft. and her gross tonnage is 45 tons.

In December 1992, the Maritime Heritage Alliance in Traverse City, Michigan became her custodian. MHA's primary goal was to rebuild the replica, make her seaworthy, and continue the mission of preserving and interpreting Great Lakes maritime history. MHA became the proud owners of Welcome on Sept. 22, 2006.

Read Howard Byrne's account of how Welcome's ballast was acquired

After MHA craftsman rebuilt Welcome over the 14 years following MHA's receiving her in 1992, MHA launched the reconstructed Welcome in 2006 off the coal dock on the outside of Heritage Harbor. The boat was hauled out in 2009 at the Northport Bay Boat Yard for hull an mechanical work in preparation for the summer trip to the Straits area and Northern Lake Huron. She has made appearances at schooner festivals, hosted sailing tours and weddings, and in 2012 participated in the bicentennial anniversary of the opening engagement of the War of 1812. Time and the elements, however, have once again taken their toll on the Welcome, and her future is uncertain.

History of the Welcome

The original sloop Welcome was constructed in 1774 at Michilimackinac as a private trading vessel by John Askin, who came to America as a member of the Highland Regiment shortly after the British conquest of Canada. He served in the Seven Years War (1756-1763), and upon its termination remained to enter into a trading partnership with Major Robert Rogers. Although the partnership soon failed, Askin entered aggressively into the Indian trade and was soon one of the leading merchants of the Upper Country with his operations extending from Montreal on the east to the farthest reaches of Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron on the west and south. Askin had a small fleet of merchant sailing vessels of various sizes with Welcome and a sister ship being the largest.

On June 27, 1778 the sloop was purchased by the British military for £900, and it was converted to an armed sloop. The crew consisted of 12 sailors and 12 soldiers. In 1779 the Armed Sloop Welcome commanded by Lieutenant George Clowes was sent to supply the British Fort St. Joseph, near present day Niles, Michigan. A British and Indian force was assembled there in the belief that General George Rogers Clark was planning to lead an invasion of rebels from Illinois against that fort and northward to Michilimackinac, which did not come to pass. The British continued to occupy the fort at old Michilimackinac up through the early part of the American Revolution.

Late in the Revolutionary War, Welcome was used to assist in the movement of people and materials from old fort Mackinaw to the new fort on Mackinac Island.

No one knows the exact fate of the original Welcome. Storms in December 1780 inflicted considerable damage on the wharf at Mackinac Island and to Welcome, which was laid up there for the winter. She was repaired and serviceable for the 1781 season. Specific references to the sloop Welcome do not appear after 1782, as she was separated from service to the Crown.

--from the notes of Bill Horning

Watch Barb Horning's video of the last of the extensive hull repair that the Armed Sloop Welcome underwent at MHA before her relaunch in 2009. Since 2009, annual restoration work and repair has been done.

The Welcome was gifted to Emmet County, to be used as a centerpiece in the their Headlands International Dark Sky Park. Welcome was transported to the Headlands and will be stored there until a new facility is built to accommodate her. A 'Welcome . . . Home' ceremony was held on November 7, 2014. Several MHA members attended, and member Jim Graczyk presented the Welcome's history with MHA. Parts of that ceremony are available to view by clicking on this link: http://youtu.be/BrpUqtqIl6Y?list=UUm6MzsMnvR65GTkiYB-krPQ.  The Welcome has been returned to its original home and will be available and viewed by many.


Future of Welcome

Resolution to accept Emmet County, MI offer to purchase Welcome

A resolution to accept Emmet County's offer to purchase Welcome was entered into the minutes after it was unanimously approved at the MHA Board of Directors meeting Monday, Nov. 11, 2013.

Welcome will be the centerpiece of an intended new structure at the International Dark Sky Park at the Headlands in Mackinaw City, MI.

Read the resolution

Read the media coverage


Visit the Photo Gallery

photos of Welcome
- photos of H. Byrne's Welcome

Maritime Heritage Alliance
13268 S West Bay Shore Dr
Traverse City, MI 49684