80 Fun & Interesting Facts About Michigan

Are you ready to dive into some fun and interesting facts about a state surrounded by beautiful lakes? Let’s take an adventure to Michigan, a place known for its stunning Great Lakes, cool cars, and delicious cherries. Michigan is a state with lots of surprises, and it’s waiting for us to discover them. So, let’s start our journey and see what makes Michigan so special with these facts about Michigan!

First off, Michigan is known as the “Great Lakes State” because it’s surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes. Imagine being able to visit Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Superior all from one state! These lakes are so big that they look like oceans. Michigan has more freshwater coastline than any other state, making it a paradise for swimming, boating, and fishing.

Now, let’s talk about cars! Michigan is famous for being the car capital of the world, especially the city of Detroit. It’s where some of the biggest car companies started, like Ford. Every year, people from all over come to see cool car shows in Michigan. It’s like a giant playground for car lovers!

Did you know Michigan is also a top producer of cherries in the United States? Every year, there’s a big Cherry Festival in Traverse City, where you can enjoy all kinds of cherry treats. From pies to jams and even cherry-themed games, it’s a cherry lover’s dream!

Are you excited to learn more facts about Michigan? From its vast Great Lakes to its love for cars and cherries, Michigan is full of fun facts and interesting stories. Let’s keep exploring and uncover all the amazing things that make Michigan a wonderful place to visit and learn about!

Be sure to discover even more interesting facts with our Facts about Montana and our Facts about Minnesota.

Facts about Michigan

  1. The state is home to Kellogg Company, the world’s leading ready-to-eat cereal producer. Battle Creek is one of the leading producers of cereal in the U.S. The city is nicknamed the “Cereal Bowl of America”.
  2. The Porcupine Mountains: the “Porkies”, as the locals call it, are small mountains in the northwest. The natives came up with the name because the landscape’s silhouette resembles a crouching porcupine. In 1945, it was established as a state park to protect the forest and the wild animals.
  3. 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.
  4. Kalamazoo was the original home of Gibson Guitars, and a budget model produced in the ’60s and ’70s was called the Kalamazoo.
  5. Oscoda claims to be the official hometown of the literary folk hero 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Colon, despite its unfortunate name, is nevertheless quite a 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 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Sault Ste. Marie, founded in 1668, was the first European settlement in the Midwest, and the third-oldest one west of the Appalachians.
  11. 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!
  12. The nation’s first tribally-owned casino was Kings Club Casino, operated by the Ojibwe Indians of Bay Mills.
  13. 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. 
  14. The name of the state is derived from the word michi-gama (a Chippewa word), meaning “large lake.”
  15. Ann Arbor, Michigan, is home to the iconic chewing gum wall. This wall on East Liberty Street was painted in 1999 by artist Katherine Cost as a form of free expression.
  16. Michigan also has the world’s largest limestone quarry located near Rogers City. It is operated by Michigan Limestone and Chemical Company.
  17. Michigan is home to the National Museum of the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen consisted of African-American and Caribbean-born pilots who fought against the Axis powers in World War II.
  18. Detroit was originally the state capital of Michigan.
  19. Michigan has the longest freshwater coastline of any state in the United States. At over 3,000 miles, the coastline of Michigan’s Great Lakes provides endless opportunities for boating, fishing, and beach-going.
  20. The world’s largest specimen of float copper was discovered in 1997 on the Quincy Mine claims near Hancock, Northern Michigan. The specimen was approximately 14 feet long and 12 feet wide, with thickness up to 17 inches. The specimen is estimated to be worth at least $100,000.
  1. According to the Guinness World Records, Michigan is home to the world’s tallest identical twins Michael and James Lanier (USA) (b. 27 November 1969) from Troy, Michigan, both stand 7 ft 3 in. Their sister Jennifer is 5 ft 2 in tall.
  2. Michigan has an estimated 65,000 inland lakes and ponds. This puts any person in the state within a distance of six miles from a natural water source.
  3. The original name of the University of Michigan, which was founded in 1817, was Catholepistemiad. Yeah, try chanting that at a football game.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. It is still against the law in Michigan to “contumeliously reproach” God, assuming you can even figure out what that means.
  8. Citing cultural differences and political neglect, some wanted to make the Upper Peninsula a separate state called “Superior” — a nod to the nearby Lake Superior. In 1957, the peninsulas were finally connected by the Mackinac Bridge. It diffused the tension and brought closer ties.
  9. Livonia, Michigan, is considered one of the worst speed trap cities in North America. The town was listed as #2 in this category by the National Motorists Association (NMA) in 2012.
  10. The state is home to the world’s largest cement manufacturing plant. The Huron Portland Cement Company started producing cement in Alpena in 1908.
  11. Michigan is the most expensive state for buying car insurance. According to Insure.com, a Michigan car insurance policy averages $2,611. And Maine ($845) is the cheapest in this regard.
  12. Michigan has the only authentic Dutch windmill operating in the United States. The De Zwaan Windmill in Holland, Mich. 
  13. Kalamazoo Mall was America’s first outdoor pedestrian shopping mall. 
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. During the War of 1812, Detroit was a 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.
  17. 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 lip-synching to the song “American Pie.” The video went viral on YouTube, which prompted “Newsweek” to disclaim the original article.
  18. Michigan is the only state in the U.S. that consists of two peninsulas – the Lower (mainly an industrial area) and Upper Peninsulas (sparsely populated but mineral-rich).
  19. In 1945, Grand Rapids became the first city in the world to fluoridate its drinking water. The move was made to help fight tooth decay.
  20. Michigan has the world’s largest weather vane. It is 48 feet tall with an arrow 26 feet long.
  1. The state is also home to 360 bird species including the rare Kirtland’s warbler.
  2. Mount Arvon, the state’s highest point lies in the Upper Peninsula. More than 40% of the state is covered in water, which is more than any other state.
  3. The state is the birthplace of “Motown Records”, which is one of the most successful soul music companies.
  4. The University of Michigan football team won the National Championship in college football in 2023.
  5. Michigan has more miles of freshwater shoreline than any other state in the nation. About 3,000 miles, to be exact. 
  6. Montague is home to the world’s largest weathervane, an instrument with a height of 48 feet. 
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.”
  10. Due to the long shoreline, Michigan needed many lighthouses to guide passing ships. About 150 of them were built since the 1820s — the highest number of lighthouses in the country.
  11. Traverse City, a city in Michigan, is known as “the cherry capital of the world.”
  12. Apples are the largest and most valuable fruit crop in Michigan. The state has 11.3 million apple trees. Michigan is the third-largest apple-producing state in the U.S.
  13. With 96,716 square miles (250,493 square kilometers) of land and water, it is the 11th largest state.
  14. Michigan is a leader in the manufacturing of mining equipment. The state is home to over a dozen major mining equipment manufacturers and is the largest producer of copper and iron ore in the country.
  15. Michigan is the 16th largest chemical-producing state in the U.S., generating $2.5 billion in annual payroll. Every light car produced in the U.S. contains more than $3,500 of chemical products.
  16. The architect of the capitol – Elijah E. Meyers – is the only architect to design the capitol buildings of three U.S. states, Michigan, Texas, and Colorado.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.”
  19. 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.
  20. Vernor’s Ginger Ale, which was created by a Detroit druggist, is possibly the oldest soft drink still on the market. It’s the oldest-surviving brand of ginger ale.
  1. A one-mile stretch of Detroit road was paved with concrete in 1908, making it the world’s first concrete-paved road.
  2. Michigan has its border with four (Superior, Huron, Michigan, and Erie) of the five Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario).
  3. Michigan is also known as “Motor City” because it is a hub for car manufacturing since the early 1900s.
  4. Harriet Quimby, born in Arcadia, Michigan was the first woman to gain a pilot’s license in the United States. In 1912, she became the first woman to fly across the English Channel.
  5. It has a population of 9,883,635 people (as of 2019), making it the 10th most populous state.
  6. Yoopers (from the Upper Peninsula) 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.
  7. Detroit residents were the first in the nation to have phone numbers. By 1879, the city had grown so large that operators were no longer able to route the calls by name alone.
  8. 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.
  9. Michigan has one of the world’s longest suspension bridges – the Mackinac Bridge. It is five miles long and connects the Upper Peninsula to the other parts of the state.
  10. The first factory to assemble cars on a moving assembly line – the Highland Park Ford plant – is in Michigan.
  11. The largest sandwich ever made in the world was prepared by Wild Woody’s Chill and Grill, Roseville, Michigan, on 17 March 2005.
  12. It’s possible to see the aurora borealis if you make your way to Northern Michigan.
  13. The world’s first three tunnels that connected two different countries were built in Michigan (the St. Clair Tunnel, the Michigan Central Railway Tunnel, and the Detroit Windsor Tunnel).
  14. The Detroit Zoo in Detroit, Michigan hosts more than 1.5 million visitors annually. This makes it Michigan’s largest paid family attraction. It is home to more than 2,000 animals of 230 species. 
  15. The Cross in the Woods Catholic shrine in Indian River has a 31-foot high crucifix, the largest one in the world.
  16. 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.
  17. Michigan is one of the largest producers of maple syrup in the United States. Michigan is also home to the National Maple Syrup Festival, which is held every year in Evart.
  18. The state is credited with building the world’s largest snowball measuring 10.04 m in circumference. It was built by the students from ASME Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan on March 29, 2013.
  19. The first air-conditioned car was manufactured in 1939 by Detroit’s Packard Motor Car Company.
  20. In 1846, Michigan became the first English-speaking government to abolish the death penalty for all ordinary crimes.

Do you have even more interesting facts about Michigan? Share them with us in the comments!

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