Fayette Historic State Park was once the site of one of the most productive iron smelters in the Upper Peninsula. Jackson Iron Company established the smelter due to the high demand for iron after the Civil War. A town formed around the company and the population reached 500 at its peak. The company produced charcoal pig iron from 1867-1891, when the demand for iron decreased and the hardwood trees used in the smelting process were depleted. Twenty buildings remain, including the large furnace complex, and many are still in good condition. Eleven of them have been restored and feature exhibits inside. Visitors can explore the site or take guided tours. Interpretive panels are dispersed throughout out the site as well.
After the operations closed down, the town became a resort and fishing village until 1946 when the Escanabe Paper Company bought the town and surrounding land. Eventually it sold it to the state of Michigan, which established the park in 1959.