Staff Favorites
from Collections at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum

GRF on Mackinac Island
photo: A5498-04

President Ford's Visit to Mackinac Island

By Ken Hafeli, Photo Archivist

I have been associated with the audiovisual department of the Gerald R. Ford Library for nearly 34 years.  When I’m asked to choose a favorite photograph, the decision can be quite difficult.  I have many favorites.  Is it a swearing in photo, a state arrival or dinner, the Bicentennial, a set of Norman Rockwellesque photos taken in New England, or one from the campaign?  There are far too many to choose from.

There is, however, a series of photographs that strike me in a particular way.  As a native Michigander, I’m proud Gerald Ford was our President.  What made me even prouder was his visit to Mackinac Island in July 1975.  There were a number of photographs taken on the island, but one in particular got my attention the first time I saw it.  The photo shows the President and Mrs. Ford riding in a horse-drawn “motorcade” through downtown Mackinac Island on Sunday, July 13.  Not even the Secret Service could get the people of Mackinac Island to back down on their ban on motorized vehicles.  Fort Mackinac, where Gerald Ford began his life in public service as a Scout Honor Guard, looms in the background.  What’s also striking is the apparent lack of interest among the people on the sidewalk.  That, and the open carriage, seem to really illustrate the lack of pretension exhibited by President Ford and the Ford family during their time in the White House.