Try to Pronounce the Names of These 12 Michigan Destinations (#7 is a Tongue Twister!)

Have you ever wondered how Michigan was named Michigan? Before colonization, the now Great Lakes State was home to at least eight Native American tribes throughout the land, one of which being the Ojibwe Indians. The Ojibwe were the first people to openly interact with the French in Michigan, trading furs and knowledge of the area for guns and goods. Through translation, the state of Michigan was named after the Ojibwe Indian word “Michigama,” which means “great lake” or “land surrounded by water.”

With this in mind, we invite you to take a look at some other uniquely-named destinations found across the Great Lakes State.

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1. Mackinac Island. This is an easy one. If you’re a native Michigander, you know that this popular Northern Michigan destination is correctly pronounced “Mackinaw Island”. Tourists have visited Mackinac Island in the summers to escape the heat of the cities for hundreds of years. Condé Nast Traveler magazine added Mackinac Island to its “World’s Best” list as one of the top 10 islands in the world. In December 2007 National Geographic Traveler magazine named Mackinac Island as the top island destination in the United States and 8th in the world. Don’t forget the fudge!

2. Tahquamenon. One of Michigan’s most popular waterfalls, Tahquamenon Falls, can be found in the Upper Peninsula in appropriately named Paradise, MI. If you’ve ever wondered how to correctly pronounce the falls, it rhymes with “phenomenon.”

3. Ypsilanti. Ip-sill-ann-tee, or Ypsi to those who know it well, is located just down the road from Ann Arbor. Home to Eastern Michigan University, the city was originally a trading post set up in 1809 and called Woodruff’s Grove after Major Thomas Woodruff. The name was later changed to Ypsilanti in 1829 in honor of Demetrius Ypsilanti. Ypsilanti was a hero in the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire.

4. Menominee.  Menominee (Men-om-in-e) is located at the gateway between the Upper Peninsula and Northeastern Wisconsin. This Pure Michigan destination gets its name from a regional Native American tribe known as the Menominee, which translates into “Wild Rice.” The area was originally the home of the Menominee Indian Tribe, who now have a reservation along Wolf River in Northern Wisconsin. Visitors can enjoy hunting, fishing, camping, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, hiking and much more.

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 5. Sault Ste. Marie. The Soo! If you’ve traveled north of the Mackinac Bridge, you’ve probably passed through the town of Soo-Saynt-Ma-Ree. The Soo is home to many Michigan treasures, such as the Soo Locks and Lake Superior State University. If you do venture north, you’ll discover the rushing waterfalls that give way to majestic forests, rocky coastlines leading to picturesque lighthouses and engineering feats of man stand side-by-side with small fishing skiffs and buckets of bait.

 6. Hamtramck. Hamtramck (Ham-tram-ick) grew into a Polish enclave between 1910 and 1920 when large number of Polish laborers arrived seeking employment. Today, Hamtramck includes many different ethnic groups, but maintains its Polish identify as can be found in the shops, restaurants and bakeries in the area with a pierogi and a paczki.

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 7. Kitch-iti-kipi. Pronounced Kitch-i-tee-ki-pee (say that five times fast!) is another U.P. gem located in scenic Palms Book State Park. Known as “The Big Spring”, Michigan’s largest freshwater spring is two hundred feet across and 40 feet deep. Over 10,000 gallons a minute gush from fissures in the underlying limestone as the flow continues throughout the year at a constant 45 degree Fahrenheit. By means of a self-operated observation raft, visitors are guided to vantage points overlooking fascinating underwater features and fantasies.

8. Dowagiac. The Grand Old City of southwestern Michigan. Dowagiac, pronounced deh-wah-jak, is nestled within the Fruit Belt, the city is surrounded by rolling farmlands and abundant orchards.  Enjoy fishing, canoeing, boating, water skiing and ice fishing.  Be sure to tour the historic train depot, too

9. Charlotte. If you’ve been pronouncing Charlotte like the city in North Carolina, guess again! Shar-lot (Not Char-lit) is located southwest of Lansing and home to some of the most beautiful historical buildings in Michigan. Charlotte annually welcomes visitors to experience the Eaton County Fair in mid-July and the pioneer spirit of the ever-popular Frontier Days in early September.

10. Bete Grise. Beet grease, you say? Not quite! Bay-dee-gree can be found southwest of Copper Harbor on Keweenaw County’s south shore. Bete Grise (French for “Grey Beast”) has a beautiful white sand beach as well as a wetland preserve stretching along Lake Superior.

11. Baraga. Bare-uh-gah is named after Bishop Frederick Baraga, located in Baraga County in the Western Upper Peninsula. Check out the statue of Bishop Baraga, which stands 35 feet tall and weighs four tons, holding a cross (7 feet high) and snowshoes (26 feet long.)  It floats on a cloud of stainless steel, supported by five laminated wood beams representing Baraga’s five major missions.

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12. Isle Royale. Last but not least, Isle Royal (Not roy-ale!) Wolves and moose, the wild North Woods forest, ever-changing weather and a cool climate, and the crystal clear waters and rugged shoreline of Lake Superior characterize Isle Royale’s National Park.  Roadless Isle Royale is accessible only by boat or float plane.  This is a Pure Michigan destination fit for royalty – if you love the outdoors!

Do you have any Michigan tongue-twisters to add to our list? Tell us below!

How Did Michigan Cities Get Their Names? Part 12

In our ongoing series of how cities in Michigan got their names, we’ve been able to share with you the history of cities from around our state. In case you missed them, here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8 , Part 9, Part 10 and Part 11.

Today, we share the stories of how five more Michigan cities were named in part 12.

Hillsdale
The village of Hillsdale was incorporated in 1847 and became a city in 1869. The geographical make-up of the Hillsdale area, which consists of hills and dales, influenced the name “Hillsdale”. Though Hillsdale does not have any mountain to create dales, or valleys, it has heights that reach up to 1,250 feet above sea level, allowing dales to exist.

Fowlerville
Handy Township, the township in which Fowlerville is located, was surveyed by Sylvestor Sibley in 1825. Calvin Handy and his family were the first settlers to arrive in Handy Township on June 16, 1836.  Later that year, Ralph Fowler from Livingston County, New York, moved to the northeast portion of Handy Township. Considered to be the first permanent resident of this area of Handy Township, the area was named Fowlerville.  The village incorporated in 1871.

Reed City
Before its establishment, Reed City was first known as Tunshla and then Todd’s Slashing.  It was plotted in 1870 by Charles Higbe, Ozias Slosson, and Fredrick Todd who re-named the village Reed City, after J.M. Reed. While the land was named after Reed, the streets and avenues were named after the village’s other incorporators.   

Monroe
Monroe was first named Frenchtown in 1784.  It was the third European settlement in the state of Michigan.  In 1817, President James Monroe visited Frenchtown, causing the location to be renamed after the president in his honor.  The newly named Monroe was then re-incorporated as a city in 1837. 

St. Ignace
St. Ignace’s name is derived from the Roman Catholic missionaries who settled the area during the time of the French and British explorers and fur traders.  The Jesuit missionaries christened the community in honor of the founder of the Society of Jesus, St. Ignatius Loyola, and named the city in his honor. Among these Jesuits priests were Fathers Marquette, Charlevoix, and Allouez, whose names may sound of other familiar Michigan cities.

   

Which cities would you like to see featured next? Share with us below!

How Did Michigan Cities Get Their Names? Part 11

In our ongoing series of how cities in Michigan got their names, we’ve been able to share with you the history of cities from around our state. In case you missed them, here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8 , Part 9 and Part 10.

Today, we bring you Part 11. Let us know in the comments section below which cities you’d like to see featured next!

Lake Odessa
Lake Odessa was developed by Humphrey R. Wager in 1887. Before it came to be “Lake Odessa”, the biggest settlement in the area was Bonanza. When the railway system was established farther south, the established Bonanza community moved to be closer to the railroad tracks. Abandoned Bonanza became cornfields and the new settlement near the railroad became Lake Odessa. Lake Odessa’s name was derived from two lakes, Tupper Lake and Jordan Lake, which are located in Odessa Township. In 1846, the Township was named by a committee in honor of one of Russia’s cities. 

Grand Haven
Grand Haven was first named Gabagouache by the Pottawattamie Indians. Once French settlers inhabited the area and made it a fur-outpost, they continued to call the location Gabagouache.  In 1835, Gabagouache was renamed Grand Haven due to its close proximity to the mouth of the Grand River and to honor the beautiful setting the river provided.  In 1837, the Grand Haven community grew to become a city.

Grand Haven's peaceful city boardwalk

St. Joseph
In 1669, René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle was the first European to settle in what is present day St. Joseph. La Salle and his crew named the river that was located in the area “River Miami” and built a fort, Fort Miami, on its shores. In 1679 the fort was destroyed, and it wasn’t until 1780 that the area became established again. In 1829, Calvin Britain created a plat map for the settlement, which was then called Newburyport, and the village thrived. In 1834, the village was renamed St. Joseph after the river, which had been renamed prior.

Mount Clemens
In 1795, the area that is present day Mount Clemens was surveyed by Christian Clemens. Four years later, Clemens settled the area.  During that time, Clements and a friend, John Brooks, built a distillery and platted the land, which started the expansion of the settlement.  The town was named after Clemens in 1818, and was incorporated into a town in 1851.  In 1879, the town was incorporated into a city.  Christian Clemens lived in Mount Clemens the rest of his life, and upon his death was buried in Clemens Park, located north of downtown.  

Imlay City
Eastern capitalist William H. Imlay moved to the area that is present day Imlay City in 1828. On April 1, 1850, the township came into existence and was named after Imlay.  During this time, Charles Palmer, the chief engineer of the railroad, selected Imlay as a potential produce market and purchased a tract of two hundred and forty acres of land, in which he surveyed and platted.  Because the area had already been named Imlay, Palmer decided to call his location Imlay City. It wasn’t until 1870 that the village began to take off due to the construction of the Port Huron and Lake Michigan Railway.