52 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About MichiganCome take a gander at these Michigander fun facts.
1. While Florida may bear the title of “Peninsula State,” Michigan is the only state consisting of two peninsulas, upper and lower.
2. Sault Ste. Marie, founded in 1668, was the first European settlement in the Midwest, and the third-oldest one west of the Appalachians.
3. Michigan abolished the death penalty in 1846 for all crimes other than treason, becoming not only the first state but the first English-speaking government in the world to do so.
4. There are no longer any living wolverines in the Wolverine State. There was one discovered in Huron County in 2004, the first one spotted in 200 years, but it has since passed on and has now been stuffed and mounted.
5. One of the world's largest registered Holstein herds can be found at Green Meadow Farms in the appropriately-named village of Elsie.
Source: Green Meadow Farms via Facebook
6. The world's largest limestone quarry is located near Rogers City.
7. Colon, despite its unfortunate name, is nevertheless quite the magical place. It's the former hometown and, unless he's pulled a Houdini and managed a posthumous escape, the final resting place of Harry Blackstone, Sr. It's also home to several magic supply manufacturers: Abbott Magic Company, Sterlini Magic Manufacturing Company and FAB Magic.
8. The first air-conditioned car was manufactured in 1939 by Detroit's Packard Motor Car Company.
9. Da Yoopers are a band from da U.P., ya? Dey're famous for singin' 'bout deer huntin' an' farts.
Source: Wikimedia user Bobak Ha'Eri
10. Yoopers (everyone on the U.P., not just the guys in the band) refer to people from the rest of the state as “trolls” because they live “below the [Mackinac] bridge.” Other nicknames are flatlanders and lopers, the latter name being short for Lower Peninsula.
11. In Michigan you get 10 cents back for recycling a can, which is the highest payback rate in the country. While the state also has the nation's highest recycling rate (no surprise there), they're also losing over $10 million a year due to out-of-staters fraudulently trying to cash in. Blame the border states: Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio which don't offer any can refunds at all.
12. Traverse City is the tart (i.e., pie) cherry capital of the world, and hosts the week-long National Cherry Festival each July.
Source: Facebook user Diane Denoyer
13. Battle Creek, a city well-known to anyone who ever sent off for a prize earned by saving up cereal box tops, is the cereal capital of the world due to the presence of the Kellogg Company. Kellogg's, by the way, offered its first mail-in cereal box prize back in 1909.
14. Vernor's Ginger Ale, which was created by a Detroit druggist, is possibly the oldest soft drink still on the market. It's definitely the oldest-surviving brand of ginger ale.
15. The Michigan Dogman, a kind of werewolfish-type beast, was first spotted in Wexford County in 1887 and several times thereafter. More recent sightings have mostly been linked to a 1987 radio station hoax, as well as to a related 2007 video which was later debunked on “MonsterQuest.”
16. The melon heads of Ottawa County are a whole other breed of Michigan cryptid. They were said to have originated as children with hydrocephalus who lived at an insane asylum near Holland's Felt Mansion, but they somehow mutated, went feral and escaped into the surrounding woods where they still lurk, waiting to leap out and attack.
17. The bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald, the wrecked ship made famous in a Gordon Lightfoot song, is on display at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at the Whitefish Point Light Station.
Source: Wikimedia user Duchene9
18. Michigan has the nation's longest freshwater shoreline.
19. If you straightened out Lake Superior's shoreline alone, it would reach from Duluth to the Bahamas.
20. Michigan touches four out of the five great lakes, more than any other state: Huron, Michigan, Erie and Superior.
21. The J.W. Westcott II, which operates out of Detroit, is the world's only floating post office, as it delivers mail to ships as they pass under the Ambassador Bridge.
22. The Saugatuck Chain Ferry, built in 1838, is the only remaining hand-cranked chain ferry in the U.S.
Source: Flickr user Katherine Johnson
23. Michigan is home to the first three tunnels in the world that connect two different countries: the St. Clair Tunnel, which connects Port Huron with Sarnia, Ontario, and the Michigan Central Railway Tunnel and Detroit Windsor Tunnel, both of which connect, you guessed it, Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.
24. Detroit residents were the first in the nation to have phone numbers. It seems that by 1879, the city had grown so large that operator were no longer able to route the calls by name alone.
25. A one-mile stretch of Detroit road was paved with concrete in 1908, making it the world's first concrete-paved road.
26. The world's largest weathervane was built by Whitehall Metal Studios of Montague. It's 48 feet tall and stands at the corner of Dowling and Water Streets.
Source: Flickr user Bill McChesney
27. The Ella Ellenwood, a schooner that used to transport lumber from Montague to Milwaukee, went down in a storm in 1901. While the ship was not recovered, its nameplate did manage to float back to Montague all on its lonesome a year later.
28. French-Canadian lumberjack Fabian Fournier, who worked for a lumber company in the Grayling area in the late 1800s, was said to be an inspiration for the legendary Paul Bunyan.
29. Oscoda claims to be the official hometown of the literary Paul Bunyan, as the first published story about him appeared in the Oscoda Press in 1906. Oscoda puts on an annual Paul Bunyan Festival each September.
30. Ossineke has a giant statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe, his blue ox. Unlike certain other statues of Babe, in this one he really is an ox, aka a steer.
31. The Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids has a 24 foot high bronze equestrian statue that, while completed in the 1990s, was based on a design by Leonardo DaVinci.
Source: Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park via Facebook
32. Petoskey stones, which are the state stones of Michigan, are made from 350 million-year-old fossilized limestone.
33. The Detroit metro area sits atop a gigantic salt mine. According to some estimates, there's enough salt down there to last for 70 million years at the world's current rate of consumption. Pass the potato chips! 34. The nation's first tribally-owned casino was Kings Club Casino, operated by the Ojibwe Indians of Bay Mills.
35. During the war of 1812, Detroit was hotly-contested territory. It was surrendered to the British in 1812, but the first attempt to retake the city in 1813 resulted in the River Raisin Massacre, which had the highest number of American casualties of any battle of the war. Detroit was finally recovered some nine months later during the Battle of Lake Erie.
36. The Cross in the Woods Catholic shrine in Indian River has a 31-foot high crucifix, the largest one in the world.
Source: Wikimedia user Michael Barrera
37. The nation as a whole learned how to spell the name of Kalamazoo (well, sort of) in 1942 when the Glen Miller song "(I've Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo" hit the top of the charts.
38. The Kalamazoo Mall was the first outdoor pedestrian shopping mall in the United States.
39. Kalamazoo was also the original home of Gibson Guitars, and a budget model produced in the ’60s and ’70s was called the Kalamazoo.
40. A Roseville man who dropped a couple of F-bombs after falling out of his canoe was convicted in 1999 under a law that had been on the books since 1897 prohibiting “indecent, immoral, obscene, vulgar or insulting language in the presence or hearing of any woman or child.” In 2002 the conviction was overturned by the Michigan Court of Appeals, and the law was struck down at the same time.
41. It is still against the law in Michigan, however, to “contumeliously reproach” God, assuming you can even figure out what that means.
42. In 2008, the city of Flint passed a law that gave police the authority to arrest anyone whose pants sagged so low as to expose their undies or bare butts. The local plumber's union has evidently declined to comment (or comply).
Source: Flickr user Brett Neilson
43. Brighton and Grand Rapids have laws against being annoying, although Grand Rapids, obviously unwilling to foot the bill for jailing its entire populace, is planning to abolish that law ASAP.
44. Grand Rapids itself became very, very annoyed by a 2011 “Newsweek” website article that listed it as one of “America's Dying Cities” and fought back by making a video featuring practically everyone in town lyp-synching to the song “American Pie.” The video went viral on YouTube, which prompted “Newsweek” to disclaim the original article.
45. The original name of the University of Michigan, which was founded in 1817, was Catholepistemiad. Yeah, try chanting that at a football game.
46. The University of Michigan has been nicknamed the “Harvard of the West,” which led Harvard alum JFK, in a speech he delivered during a 1961 campus visit, to refer to himself as a graduate of the “Michigan of the East.”
47. Famous UM grads include Scopes trial defense attorney Clarence Darrow, Swedish diplomat-turned-Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg, Vader-voicing actor James Earl Jones, material girl
Madonna and former prez Gerald R. Ford
Source: Flickr user Sam Howzit
48. Michigan State University was the first agricultural college in the U.S.
49. MSU's got its own illustrious alums, including the famously missing former Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa, actor Robert Urich, director Sam Raimi and NBA superstar Magic Johnson.
50. Edsel Ford, son of Henry (and no relation to Gerald R.), may forever be associated with Detroit's biggest flop, but he died 14 years before the line of cars bearing his name came out. Edsel himself would most likely have done a much better job with the design—he was, after all, responsible for the body of the super-successful Model A, as well as its braking and transmission systems.
51. Grand Haven is famous for its “singing sand” beaches, which make a whistling sound when you walk on them.
52. Hamtramck has an annual Paczki Day celebration devoted to the greater glory of this Polish version of a jelly doughnut.
Source: Flickr user David Murray