A Great Island, full of History, Wildlife and a Great place to go to get away to relax.
The island was named by Americans for its first settler, Jacob Harsen, of Dutch descent, who migrated from New York state, during the American Revolutionary War, with his daughter and son-in-law Isaac Graveraet. Harsen bought the island from the Indians in 1783. It was also known as "Jacob Island" as late as 1809. The name of the post office, Sans Souci, was changed to "Harsens Island" in 1960.
Great Britain and the United States disputed the island's jurisdiction for many years. The 1783 Treaty of Paris, which ended the American Revolutionary War, described the international boundary line with imprecise terms in several places, including the mouth of the St. Clair River. The area had not been surveyed at that time. In the most commonly known map of the area from that period, made by John Mitchell in 1755 and which was used in negotiating the treaty, the delta and all the islands at the mouth of the St. Clair River are absent.The St. Clair River is an integral part of the Great Lakes, draining water from Lake Huron down, eventually, to Lake Erie. The delta was formed about 6,000 years ago and long was a desired area of habitation by indigenous peoples.
Harsens Island is the major U.S. island in the Flats and the only one to be accessible by auto ferry.
The St. Clair River is the international boundary between the United States and Canada. The river carries more freighter traffic than theSuez and Panama Canals combined. Over 1 billion US gallons (3,800,000 m3) of fresh water per day flow down the St. Clair River, and through its delta region, the St. Clair Flats.
The Island supports a range of wildlife, such as the great blue heron, snapping turtles, watersnakes, muskrats, mink, whitetail deer, pintail, canvasback and mallard ducks, Canada geese and red-winged blackbirds. The area around the island is a popular fishing spot, for yellow perch, large and small mouth bass, rock bass, sunfish, pumpkinseed fish, bluegills, and silver bass.
The State of Michigan owns about 75% of Harsen's Island, and manages waterfowl and wildlife sanctuaries throughout.