11 Little Known Facts about Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Jesse Land, a native Yooper, runs the U.P. travel site “Things to do in the U.P.” (www.thingstodointheup.com). Today on our blog, he shares 11 little known facts about Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

1. The Mackinac Bridge fare today for a standard passenger vehicle is $4.00. When the bridge first opened in 1957, the fare was $3.75. That’s about $28.71 in today’s dollars! The reason for the seemingly high fare was that was the cost of a ferry ticket to get across the straights of Mackinac was $3.75. So, drivers could either pay $3.75 to ferry across (which took a while) or pay the same price and drive across in just a few minutes!

2. Former U.S. president Teddy Roosevelt once sued an Upper Peninsula newspaper for slander, and won. He sued the paper for the nominal charge of 6 cents, or in his words, “The cost of a good newspaper.” The paper in question was called the Iron Ore, and had accused Roosevelt of public drunkenness.

3. “Win one for the Gipper” is a famous quote from the 1940 movie “Kunute Rockne All American,” starring Ronald Regan. In real life, George Gipp, aka “The Gipper” was Notre Dame’s first All American player, and he was from the little town of Laurium in the Upper Peninsula!

4. Michigan has eighty three counties, and the last one to be formed was Dickinson County in the Upper Peninsula. It was formed in 1891 from parts of Marquette, Menominee and Iron counties.

5. The largest inland lake in the Upper Peninsula is Lake Gogebic.  Its fourteen miles long and two and a half miles wide, covering 13,380 acres.

6. The state bird is the robin. The state stone is the Petoskey Stone. The state flower is the apple blossom, and the state tree is the Eastern White Pine. The state gem is chlorastrolite, which is commonly known as “Michigan Greenstone” and found largely in the Upper Peninsula.

7. Almost all of Michigan is located in the Eastern Time Zone. However, the Upper Peninsula has four counties that lie in the Central Time Zone. Those counties are Iron, Dickinson, Gogebic, and Menominee.

8. Bishop Baraga could possibly soon be “sainted” by the Catholic Church, and if that happens, the Upper Peninsula can expect a big bump in religious tourism by people interested in learning more about “the snowshoe priest,” who’s currently buried in the Upper Peninsula. Much of Baraga’s work was carried out in the U.P.

9. In August of 1923, three of the most famous American entrepreneurs made their first camping trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The three men were Harvey Firestone, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, and the trip would eventually spur much economic activity in the U.P.!

10. Isle Royale National Park, part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is the least visited national park in the country. It has fewer visitors’ in an entire year than Yosemite has in a single day!

11. “Anatomy of a Murder” was a famous book (and subsequently movie) written by Michigan Supreme Court Justice John D. Voelker (under the pen name Robert Traver). Voelker based the novel on a 1952 murder case in which he was the defense attorney. The film was shot in several locations in the Upper Peninsula, including Big Bay, Marquette, Ishpeming, and Michigamme.

A native Yooper, Jesse Land lives in Iron Mountain and enjoys hiking, biking, boating, and camping with his family. He runs the U.P. travel site “Things to do in the U.P.” (www.thingstodointheup.com).

  • Bobby Foster

    Love the U.P. Whitefish Point and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, Tahquamenon Falls, Copper Harbor, Sand Hills Lighthouse Inn, The Soo Locks (and Goetz’s Lock View Restaurant) are all some of our favorite places. And of course, the Mighty Mac is always impressive. Can’t wait to get back.

  • Oslahr

    I would spend a LOT more time in the UP if they would bring back the ferry. I HATE the bridge!

  • Dale Stevenson

    the bridge is a reminder of how small we are in the world and reminds us as well of the beauty around us, you should let someone else drive and just enjoy the view

  • Carol Young

    Went to the UP last week, loved Pictured Rocks, awesome sights.  Camped in teh State Forest Camp Grounds very nice!

  • Carol Young

    Spent 3 days in the UP last week, loved Pictured Rocks.  Camping in the State Forest grounds is great!

  • jan bunting

    My husband and I visited the UP in 2009; our “base camp” was in Munising in a beautiful little campground.  From there we took in as many of the sights as possible.  It was a fabulous week!  I’m originally from southwestern Michigan but had never seen the UP with all of its natural beauty and rich history.  I’m trying to plan another trip for late September but am having a difficult time trying to decide where we should go – there are so many choices and they all sound wonderful!! 

  • Mark A. Lukasik

    My wife and I traveled the length of the U.P. recently on our way to Washburn, WI and marveled at the natural beauty of this area of Michiga.  All Michiganders are blessed to have this land to travel..

  • kate

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  • Jerry Johnson

    I was born In Laurium in 1944 but grew up it New York, my father was in the service, my grandfather was a fisherman on Isle Royale as was father , uncles. aunts all lived on the island until the park service came, I have been to the UP many times and always feels like home to me, when my father retired they moved back and lived in Kearsarge, played on the stone boat , I have two sisters and a brother that still live there, for me not it’s to cold and live in Florida

  • VanHeathen

    Left the UP for greener pastures, found them too, still, it was a very, very bad choice. Nuff said.