Michigan became the 26th state on January 26, 1837 and is located in the midwestern United States. It is nicknamed the “Great Lake State” as well as the “Wolverine State”. Michigan is home to the first four-way traffic light in the U.S. and its residents were the first in the country to have individual telephone numbers. The state’s motto is “Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice”: “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.”
For you fans of ‘The Mitten’, here are 15 Marvelous Facts about Michigan.
Facts about Michigan:
- If you drive due south from Detroit, you’ll end up in Canada. The way the US-Canadian Border curves around the Detroit River creates a situation where Windsor, Ontario, Canada is in fact due south of Detroit.
- In Michigan, you are never farther than 6 miles from a lake or river. Michigan has nearly 65,000 inland lakes and ponds. It also has the nation’s longest freshwater coastline and the second-longest coastline of any U.S. state, after Alaska.
- You are also never more than 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes. Michigan is the only state that touches four of the five Great Lakes: Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior.
- Michigan is the only U.S. state which consists of two peninsulas. The Lower Peninsula is mainly an industrial area while the Upper Peninsula (often called “the U.P.”) is more sparsely populated.
- Michigan has the most lighthouses of any U.S. state. Michigan has upwards of 130 lighthouses and depending on how you define ‘lighthouse’, the number may be closer to 150. Maine is next in line with around 80.
- Michigan is home to the first traffic tunnel in the world that connect two different countries. The Detroit Windsor Tunnel connects Detroit to Windsor, Ontario and is jointly owned by the cities of Windsor and Detroit.
- In Michigan, it’s illegal to sell, trade, or buy a motor vehicle on a Sunday. The law dates back to 1953. The law (435.251 Motor vehicles; sale on Sunday unlawful, exception.) states, “It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to engage in the business of buying, selling, trading or exchanging new, used or second-hand motor vehicles or offering to buy, sell, trade or exchange, or participate in the negotiation thereof, or attempt to buy, sell, trade or exchange any motor vehicle or interest therein, or of any written instrument pertaining thereto, on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday.”
- In 2016, Michigan State University used 1,250 gallons of ruined mayonnaise to help power part of the campus. When 500 containers of dining hall mayonnaise (each of which held 2.5 gallons) went bad, the school dumped it all into an anaerobic digester. The anaerobic digester converts food and farm waste into energy and power. Fats and sugars are great sources of energy, so the mayonnaise was used to provide power to farm areas and buildings on the south side of campus.
- Michigan is home to the only floating post office in the world. The J.W. Westcott II delivers mail to ships as they pass under the Ambassador Bridge which spans the Detroit River. The 45-foot tugboat is the only boat in the country with its own zip code: 48222.
- Michigan and Ohio once nearly went to war over a border dispute. In 1835, Ohio and the Michigan Territory squabbled over a small strip of land called the Toledo Strip – which now contains the modern day city of Toledo. Both sides amassed militia on the opposite sides of the Maumee River, ready to take the area by force. Luckily, the so-called “Toledo War” was mostly bloodless; no one was killed, but one man was stabbed.
- Michigan is known as the Wolverine State but has no actual wolverines. Wild wolverines can be found in Colorado, California, Oregon, Montana, Washington, Wyoming, and parts of Canada, but there are no wild wolverines in Michigan. A popular theory of the nickname stems from the aforementioned “Toledo War” in which Ohioans called Michiganians “wolverines” as the two sides struggled over who owned the disputed territory. Several years later, the University of Michigan adopted the wolverine as its school mascot.
- Michigan has the only authentic, working Dutch windmill in the United States. The De Zwaan Windmill was brought to Holland, Michigan from the Netherlands in 1964. It also has the distinction of being the the last historic windmill allowed to leave the Netherlands.
- A retired Michigan couple exploited a loophole in the lottery to win millions of dollars. In 2002, Jerry and Marge Selbee found a way to crack the lottery in Michigan using math and probability. They realized that if they bought a certain amount of tickets they could almost guarantee making a profit playing a lottery game called Winfall. They raked in $26 million over the course of a decade.
- The Ambassador Bridge is the largest international suspension bridge in the world. Ambassador Bridge is a privately owned tolled suspension bridge that connects Detroit, Michigan with Windsor, Ontario. The bridge’s total length is 7,500 feet (2,286 m). it was the longest suspension bridge in the world in 1929 and remains as the longest international suspension bridge in the world to this day. On average, more than 10,000 vehicles traverse the bridge every weekday.
- Michigan was the first state to abolish the death penalty. In 1847. Michigan abolished the death penalty for all crimes other than treason. In doing so, it also became the first English-speaking government in the world to do so. Michigan is the only state in the Union to have explicitly prohibited capital punishment in its constitution.
Now that you know a few fun facts about Michigan, try reading about these fun facts about Georgia.