Discover 50 Interesting & Fun Facts About Michigan State

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Urban skyline with buildings and skyscrapers along a river
A view of Detroit River and city skyline from Ontario, Canada

When you hear about Michigan, what comes to mind? Do you think of facts about Motor City? What about the Great Lakes?

If you don't know many interesting and fun facts about Michigan state, you should change that! It's a fascinating place with tons of facts worth knowing. Whether you're planning a trip or just want to impress your friends with your new-found knowledge about this northern state, you won't regret reading this article!

From the interesting to the creepy, there's a Michigan fact to grab anyone's attention. However, knowing where to look can be overwhelming. So, this list covers a few different areas to help you get started.

So, what are you waiting for? Start reading 50 facts about Michigan state that will fascinate you!

  • 50 Michigan facts

50 Michigan State Facts

  1. Fun Facts About Michigan
    1. Michigan was the 26th state
    2. Brook Trout is the state fish
    3. You can find moose in Isle Royale National Park
    4. The Michigan State Capitol has unique architecture
    5. It's called the "Mitten State"
    6. It has the longest freshwater coastline
    7. It's also called the "Wolverine State"
    8. The population is about 10 million
    9. Diana Ross grew up here
    10. Lewis Cass governed the state
    11. It was the first state to outlaw the death penalty
    12. It has the largest limestone quarry
    13. It was a big producer of iron ore
    14. It has thousands of inland lakes
    15. Michigan State University was the first of its kind
  2. Interesting Facts About Michigan
    1. It's motto is "si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice"
    2. Lake Michigan has the largest freshwater sand dunes
    3. The Detroit River is the state's border with Canada
    4. Michigan was the first state with civil rights laws
    5. Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world
    6. The Mackinac Bridge was the longest suspension bridge
    7. The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation showcases progress
    8. The Lower Peninsula makes up 2/3 of the state
    9. The American robin is the state bird
    10. The apple blossom is a state symbol
  3. Creepy Facts About Michigan
    1. Grand Rapids is haunted
    2. There are Bigfoot sightings
    3. The Paulding Light is a mystery
    4. There's a corn monster
    5. Denton Road has strange activity
  4. Funny Facts About Michigan
    1. It has a floating post office
    2. Sault Ste. Marie is the only city in its county
    3. It has an authentic Dutch windmill
    4. It has one of the only US luge tracks
    5. It has the highest recycling payback in the US
  5. Random Facts About Michigan
    1. The capital isn't Detroit
    2. It's part of the Northwest Territory
    3. A movie was filmed on Mackinac Island
    4. The cereal industry was born here
    5. It's twice the size of New York
  6. Historical Facts About Michigan
    1. Musical integration happened here
    2. The Upper Peninsula was first explored by the French
    3. People have lived there for 12,000 years
    4. Detroit was the center of the car industry
    5. There are 12 Native American tribes
  7. Strange Facts About Michigan
    1. The shortest freeway is less than 2 miles
    2. Michigan means "large lake"
    3. There are more boaters than anywhere else
    4. It's the 2nd most agriculturally diverse state
    5. It's the only state with 2 peninsulas

Show all

Fun Facts About Michigan

Red, white, and blue lighthouse on a sandy coast on a clear day
Point Betsie Lighthouse on the shore of Lake Michigan

Michigan was the 26th state

Starting any list of fun facts on Michigan is the fact it was the 26th state in the Union. Before 1837, Michigan was a US territory, but it hadn't been granted statehood yet.

It's possible Michigan could have become a state a little sooner. Conflicts over territory with Ohio kept Michigan from earning its star on the American flag for a while.

Brook Trout is the state fish

With as many lakes as Michigan has, it's no surprise there's an official state fish. The Brook Trout has been an official Michigan symbol since 1988.

The Brook Trout replaced the previous state fish, the general trout species. Since there are 4 species of trout native to Michigan's waters, it was an easy choice for the initial title of state fish.

You can find moose in Isle Royale National Park

In the middle of Lake Superior, you'll find the island collection that makes up Isle Royale National Park. Since it's so remote, the park has been able to remain car-free with the only access being by boat.

Some of Michigan's natural wildlife can thrive on the island since it's protected from harmful outside elements. Timberwolves and moose are among some of the more exciting inhabitants of the park.

A Renaissance-style structure with a dome in the middle and an American flag
The Michigan State Capitol, center of the state's legislation, in Lansing

The Michigan State Capitol has unique architecture

Michigan's State Capitol is the beating heart of the state's legislation. Its architecture, therefore, needed to reflect the important work that would be conducted within it.

It was built following a combination of the Renaissance Revival and Classical Revival styles. It's also one of the only state capitol buildings to feature its unique center dome, complete with hand-painted designs.

It's called the "Mitten State"

If you're wondering what sorts of nicknames Michigan has, look no further. One of this great state's monikers is the "Mitten State."

That nickname might seem silly, but it makes sense if you look at a map of the United States. If you look closely, the state is shaped like a mitten. It's unclear who started the nickname, but it dates back to at least 1901.

It has the longest freshwater coastline

Michigan might be inland, but that doesn't stop it from having an impressive coastline. The state is surrounded by 4 of the 5 American Great Lakes.

The lakes' impressive sizes, mean Michigan has over 3,200 continuous miles of coastline bordering them. That's the longest freshwater coastline in the country. It also has the country's second-longest coastline in general.

Having a large wolverine population is one of the facts about Michigan state
"Wolverine state" is one of the state nicknames of Michigan

It's also called the "Wolverine State"

Another one of the most interesting facts of Michigan is one of the state's other nicknames. When not referred to as the "Mitten State," it's being called the "Wolverine State."

The state earned that nickname for 2 reasons. Initially, Michigan had a large population of wild wolverines, though their numbers dwindled over time. The state was also the center for the northern US fur trade, which also added to the validity of the moniker.

The population is about 10 million

Michigan is home to some of the biggest industries in the country, which has caused its population to boom over the years. With around 10 million residents, Michigan is the 10th most populated state in the country.

Unsurprisingly, most of the state's citizens are localized around Detroit and the state's other major cities. However, due to its natural beauty, many people have also started spreading out to more rural areas as well.

Diana Ross grew up here

Diana Ross became one of the biggest names in the music industry. From the time she was 15, her star power earned her notoriety.

What you might not know, if you're just a casual fan, is that Diana Ross is a Michigan native. She was born and raised in Detroit, the state's biggest city and the country's music capital at the time.

Lewis Cass governed the state

Lewis Cass may have been born in New Hampshire, but he gained notoriety as Governor of Michigan. He was awarded the title in 1813 by President Madison to reward his decorated military service.

Cass took to the position and came to think of the state as his home. He served as governor for 18 years, and he continued to live in the state until he died in 1866.

It was the first state to outlaw the death penalty

The death penalty, also known as capital punishment, has always been a point of contention in US politics. To this day, states can't agree on what's the best course of action regarding it.

While many states have banned the punishment over the years, Michigan was the first. In 1846, Michigan abolished the death penalty. At the time, the only exception to that rule was as punishment for treason, which was considered the most heinous crime.

It has the largest limestone quarry

Limestone is one of the most useful minerals out there. It has a high tolerance to temperatures and water, so it doesn't break down with as much wear and tear.

A large portion of the limestone on the market comes from Michigan. That's because the state is home to the largest limestone quarry in the world.

It was a big producer of iron ore

One of the most interesting and fun Michigan facts is that the state is rich in natural resources. However, perhaps one of the most important natural resources found in the state is iron ore.

Iron ore is an essential ingredient in making steel which has been a necessary component in construction since the 1800s. When deposits were found in Michigan, miners flocked to the state, making it one of the biggest iron ore producers.

A white sailboat on a lake and a red lighthouse on its rocky coast
A lighthouse in Muskegon along Lake Michigan, one of the many lakes in the state

It has thousands of inland lakes

Minnesota might be the "Land of 10,000 Lakes", but Michigan has that number beaten by a landslide. Popular culture cites the state as having around 11,000 lakes, but even that number is wrong.

If you count every lake in the state, including those that measure less than an acre, there are nearly 65 thousand lakes in Michigan. The lakes make up over 22 thousand square miles of Michigan's total area.

A building with glass walls and a plant box in front with Michigan State University
One of the fun facts about Michigan state is about Michigan State University

Michigan State University was the first of its kind

Michigan State University is a common choice for higher education among Michigan residents. However, not everyone knows that it was the first college of its kind.

U of M, as it's commonly referred to by locals, was the first US university to offer agricultural programs. After it opened in 1855, other schools began to follow suit.

Interesting Facts About Michigan

Greenery on top of a sea arch along the coast of a lake on a clear day
A sea arch on the coast of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world

It's motto is "si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice"

Michigan's state pride is palpable throughout its territory. Therefore, it's no surprise that the state motto is "si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice" which means "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you."

Like many states' mottos, the phrase is in Latin. It can be seen on the official seal and coat of arms, as well as on official Michigan government buildings.

Lake Michigan has the largest freshwater sand dunes

Michigan not only has the longest freshwater coast, but it also has the largest freshwater sand dunes. These sand dunes are protected areas, with the tallest dune reaching 450 feet in height.

The sand dunes were formed millions of years ago when glaciers slowly moved through the area. These glaciers transported sand to Michigan's shores, where its been ever since.

A barge on a river and buildings along the coast against a clear sky
The Detroit River marks the border between Canada and the state of Michigan

The Detroit River is the state's border with Canada

Michigan is one of the United States border states with Canada. However, while many states have a land border to divide the US and Canadian territories, that's not the case with this state.

Part of Michigan and Ontario's shared border is the Detroit River. The state also has 4 land borders with its northern neighbor as well.

Michigan was the first state with civil rights laws

There are many Michigan historical facts, but one of the most important has to do with the civil rights movement. Though it is a progressive northern state, Michigan was still involved in the movement that lasted nearly 40 years.

It set a landmark precedent by being the first state to include civil rights protection in its laws. In the years following this 1964 law, other states followed in Michigan's footsteps.

Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world

The 5 Great Lakes are some of the largest freshwater bodies of water in the country, but Lake Superior is the largest of them all. It's the largest freshwater lake on the planet and the second-largest lake in the world.

The lake is so big that it holds 10% of the globe's freshwater supply. In numbers, that equals around 3 quadrillion gallons spread out across 32 thousand square miles.

A steel suspension bridge with ivory towers over a lake against a clear sky
The 26,000 feet Mackinac Bridge connects the Mackinac island to Michigan's mainland

The Mackinac Bridge was the longest suspension bridge

Michigan has multiple islands to its name, with one of the most famous being Mackinac Island. To reach these islands, you often need to catch a boat. But in this case, you can take the bridge.

The Mackinac Bridge is 26 thousand feet long and connects the island with the mainland. Of that length, 8,600 feet are completely suspended over water. Those impressive numbers make the bridge one of the longest in general and the longest suspension bridge in the world.

amarildohoxha91@gmail.com/Depositphotos.com
A red sports car with number one on its hood among other cars in a museum
A sports car in the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, a Michigan landmark

The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation showcases progress

Founded in 1929, the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation became a state landmark right away. In just 40 years, the museum was converted into a National Historic Place.

The museum showcases 300 years of American progress and displays artifacts from great American innovators throughout the country's history. Since innovations are coming to light every day, the museum is ever-changing.

The Lower Peninsula makes up 2/3 of the state

The Michigan Lower Peninsula, also known as Lower Michigan, is the largest chunk of the state's territory. The territory measures 277 x 195 miles which makes up around 2/3 of the state's total land area.

The lower peninsula is not only the largest section of the state, but it's also the least elevated portion as well. The highest point reaches 1,705 feet of elevation.

A gray and orange bird perched on a branch of a plant with orange fruits
American robin has been Michigan's state bird since 1931

The American robin is the state bird

If you're fascinated by state symbols, you'll likely be interested in learning about the Michigan state bird. That title goes to the American robin which is native to the state.

The robin became the state bird in 1931. However, Michigan isn't the only state to choose this bird as its symbol. Connecticut and Wisconsin also share the American robin.

Apple trees with blossoms on a grassy orchard
Since 1897, apple blossom has been Michigan's state flower

The apple blossom is a state symbol

A list of fun facts of Michigan wouldn't be complete without the Michigan state flower. Since 1897, the apple blossom has held that title.

The flower is native to Michigan and is popular due to its fragrant smell. Arkansas representatives agreed as they also made it their state flower 4 short years later in 1901.

Creepy Facts About Michigan

A city skyline with a few tall buildings and a bridge in front on a cloudy day
Grand Rapids, also called "Haunted Valley," is said to be frequented by ghosts

Grand Rapids is haunted

Grand Rapids is the 2nd most populated city in Michigan, with over 200 thousand residents. However, according to rumors, there are even a few ghosts that call the city home.

Stories of the area's ghosts can date back to when Native Americans were the sole residents of the territory. They called it the "Haunted Valley." Today, you can take haunted city tours all year.

The water of a falls cascading down to a river surrounded by greenery
Bond Falls in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, said to be the site of Bigfoot sightings

There are Bigfoot sightings

When you think of Bigfoot, you might think of the Pacific Northwest. But sightings have reached as far east as Michigan. The Upper Peninsula specifically has seen its fair share of Bigfoot stories.

In 2021, a hunter claims to have caught the mythical creature on film. Unfortunately, the evidence is still considered inconclusive, but it's revived the state's fascination with the legend.

The Paulding Light is a mystery

Paulding, Michigan, might seem like a run-of-the-mill small town, but it's full of mystery. Since the 1960s, mysterious lights have been seen in the town's territory.

These lights have earned the name "Paulding Lights." To this day, no one knows for sure what causes the lights to appear. Theories range from swamp gasses to ghosts causing the phenomenon.

There's a corn monster

If you find yourself in Michigan's countryside, you might hear stories of the "corn monster." The creature is described as being similar to Bigfoot. However, rather than being spotted in the woods, the corn monster is often spotted in open corn fields.

The legend of the corn monster is mostly centered around the Winn area. However, people all over the state are familiar with it. No one knows exactly when the sightings first started, but they've become a regular part of Michigan life.

Denton Road has strange activity

Fans of the paranormal from all over the country flock to Denton Road and its bridge in Wayne County, Michigan. During the day, it may seem like a country road in southeast Michigan, but at night rumors about the bridge fly.

Many locals have claimed to see ghosts on the bridge and along the side of the road when driving at night. Most often the figure seen is that of a woman, who has earned the moniker "The Blue Lady."

Funny Facts About Michigan

Rows of tulips in different colors on a field and a wooden windmill on a clear day
A 250-year old Dutch windmill in Windmill Island Gardens in Holland, Michigan

It has a floating post office

If you're trying to impress people with your knowledge of facts about the state of Michigan, you have to mention the floating post office. It's the J.W. Westcott II boat, and it's located on the Detroit River.

The Detroit River is the docking place for many boats and ships, some of which are used as mailing addresses. To get mail to these boats, the floating post office and delivery service were implemented.

Sault Ste. Marie is the only city in its county

Michigan is subdivided into 83 counties. Typically, each county has a few towns or cities within its borders, but that's not the case everywhere in the state.

Chippewa County has just a single city within its borders. That city is Sault Ste. Marie. The city has a population of around 13,000. Be careful not to confuse the city with its sister in Canada, which shares the same name.

It has an authentic Dutch windmill

If you're unable to make it to the Netherlands, you can get a taste of Dutch culture in Michigan. The city of Holland has an authentic 250-year -old Dutch windmill.

The windmill is located in the Windmill Island Gardens and is called DeZwaan, which is Dutch for "the swan." Along with the mill, the park also has a carousel and tours led by guides in Dutch costumes.

The windmill is recognized by the National Parks Register on the National Register of Historic Places.

It has one of the only US luge tracks

Though luge isn't the most popular sport, it's still an important event in the winter Olympics. However, there are surprisingly few places to train in the US.

One of the only luge tracks in the country is located in Muskegon. The track is slightly shorter than those used during competitions, but it was designed by a 3-time winner to help aspiring athletes train.

It has the highest recycling payback in the US

Currently, in the USA, 10 states recognize what is called "recycle payback" or "bottle bill." Meaning if you purchase a recyclable bottle or can, you typically have to pay a little extra as a deposit which you'll get back by recycling correctly.

Michigan is one of those states. However, it sets itself apart by having the highest payback amount of any participating state.

Random Facts About Michigan

ehrlif/Depositphotos.com
Clouds in the background of a clock tower among other buildings
Michigan's capital and 6th largest city is Lansing

The capital isn't Detroit

People who aren't from Michigan might assume that the state capital is Detroit. It's the largest city, after all. However, that's not the case.

The capital of Michigan state is Lansing. It's the 6th largest city in the state, and it spans 2 separate counties. Lansing was chosen strategically as the western parts of Michigan were underdeveloped and having the capital there would jumpstart settlements.

It's part of the Northwest Territory

When the US was still in its infancy, its land was often sectioned off into large areas. One of these areas was called the Northwest Territory.

Even experts on current Michigan facts and information may be unaware of this part of the state's history. During the late 1700s, the Northwest Territory was comprised of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

ehrlif/Depositphotos.com
A water fountain on a garden in front of a white building with American flags
The Grand Hotel is one of the filming sites of the movie "Somewhere in Time"

A movie was filmed on Mackinac Island

While many movies and shows have taken place in Michigan, they're often filmed in Hollywood. However, that's not the case with the 1980 film "Somewhere in Time."

The movie is set on Mackinac Island and stars Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. The film was made almost entirely on location and caused a small influx of visitors to this peaceful Michigan island.

The cereal industry was born here

It's hard to picture a time when cereal wasn't promoted as an important part of a balanced breakfast. It's a staple food in most people's homes, but did you know one of the biggest cereal companies was born in Michigan?

Battle Creek was the headquarters and production site for Kellogg's for over 100 years and was considered the heart of the cereal industry. Though the headquarters has moved to Chicago, the city still recognizes how important this breakfast food was to its development.

It's twice the size of New York

Though Michigan has about half the population of New York, the opposite is true for their land area. You could fit New York inside of Michigan nearly two times.

Michigan is the 11th largest state by size. You may not realize that when you consider its pure land area. But remember, the state is full of lakes which also contribute to its overall size.

Historical Facts About Michigan

emyu21/Depositphotos.com
A circular metallic monument surrounded by trees with buildings in the background
The Transcending monument in Detroit, the center of the automotive industry

Musical integration happened here

For years, Detroit was known as America's music capital. Numerous legendary record labels signed their first bands and singers in the city, including Diana Ross.

Perhaps an even more important contribution Detroit has made to music is that it brought music integration to the mainstream. By promoting genres like blues; jazz; gospel; and R&B, African American artists were able to gain a much wider audience than ever before.

The Upper Peninsula was first explored by the French

At one time, northern Michigan was considered inhospitable and was mostly wilderness. That changed in 1620 when the state's upper peninsula was first explored by Étienne Brûlé.

Brûlé continued his explorations of Canada down south into what is now considered Michigan territory. Twenty-one years later, French missionaries set up a mission in the area.

People have lived there for 12,000 years

Michigan facts and history date back a lot further than you might think. While settlers have only been in the state's territory for about 300 years, there's evidence that people have called the territory home for nearly 12 thousand.

Many of the first people on the American continent followed big game across the Bering Strait. These people were mostly nomadic, but would sometimes settle in fruitful areas where they were able to find food, water, and shelter.

Detroit was the center of the car industry

You may have heard Detroit referred to as Motor City. That's because it was once the center of the American automotive industry.

Since Michigan is rich in iron ore and copper, car manufacturers had easy access to the material they needed to build reliable vehicles. By building them right in Detroit, they were able to cut down on shipping costs and help the city's economy boom.

There are 12 Native American tribes

Before settlers claimed Michigan, it was populated by Native American tribes. While many tribes scattered throughout the US or joined together, there are still 12 tribes that are currently recognized within the state.

These tribes are descended from the original Native American groups in the territory. Those groups were the Potawatomi, Sauk, Fox, Huron, Ottawa, Kickapoo, Ojibwe, and Menominee, people.

Strange Facts About Michigan

Several boats docked on a harbor
A harbor in Holland, Michigan the second state to have the most number of boaters

The shortest freeway is less than 2 miles

If you're driving around Detroit, keep an eye out for signs indicating I-375. It's the shortest freeway in the state and the second shortest in the country.

Interstate 375 measures 1.1 miles in length and has been open to cars since 1964. The street aims to connect the main stretch of the freeway with Jefferson Avenue in the city.

Michigan means "large lake"

You might find yourself wondering where Michigan gets its name. Like many states, it derives from the language of one of the Native American tribes that originally populated the area.

Michigan derives from a word in the Ojibwe language that means "big lake" or "big water." Since the state is surrounded by so many bodies of water, the name makes perfect sense.

There are more boaters than anywhere else

You might expect a coastal state like Florida to have the most boaters of any place in the US. Surprisingly, that's not the case. Until recently, Michigan had that title.

Michigan has 1 million registered boats in the state which was a record breaker for years. Recently, California has managed to beat it. However, considering Michigan's inland nature, the amount of time it held the title is impressive.

It's the 2nd most agriculturally diverse state

One of the most unexpected fun facts about Michigan state has to do with its soil. Not only is the state rich in natural minerals, but it's also extremely fertile.

Michigan's soil and climate can support a wide variety of crops. Over 300 different crops are harvested by Michigan farmers every year, and agriculture makes up nearly 25% of the state's economy.

It's the only state with 2 peninsulas

Michigan's geography is unique. While multiple states have islands like Michigan, Michigan is the only state that has 2 peninsulas.

You might assume the northern part of the state would be part of Wisconsin. However in an agreement with the government to get its statehood, Michigan gave some disputed territory to Ohio in exchange for the upper peninsula.

In Summary

There you have it! Fifty facts about the Mitten State. How many of them did you know? Did any of them surprise you? Hopefully, you learned a lot from this list that you can use on your next trip to Michigan or just to impress your friends and family.

As one of the most diverse and unique states in the country, Michigan deserves more attention. Fifty is a lot, but there are plenty more facts where these came from. Pick your favorite and use it to kick-start your own research so you can be a Michigan expert in no time!

This article was edited by Henry Grahame.

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Written by Gabrielle T

ggtraveler1213 WRITER Hi! I'm a lover of all things travel and culture. I'm originally from the USA, but I've lived in Italy for over a decade! I'm always ready to pack my bags, get my passport, and head out on an adventure!


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