Try to Pronounce the Name of these 10 Michigan Destinations

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.

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 “MACK-in-awe 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!

Mackinac-Island-Bay

A beautiful view from Mackinac Island overlooking the Bay, Photo credit: IG @dremmus

2. Ypsilanti

IP-sill-ANN-tee, or Ypsi to those who know it well, is located just down the road from Ann ArborHome 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.

The Color Run in Ypsilanti

Runners lined up in downtown Ypsilanti, Photo Credit: Ypsi Real

3. 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.

Old Eaton County Courthouse

The Old Eaton County Courthouse is an iconic building as any in Charlotte, Photo Credit: Fluidr user @courthouselover

4. Bois Blanc Island

Bois Blanc Island, known as “Bob-LOW,” is located in the Straits of Mackinac, near the top of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.  You can reach the Island by ferry from Cheboygan, a few miles southeast of Mackinaw City.  From the island’s west end, one can see the Mackinac Bridge and Mackinac Island.  You can catch a distant glimpse of the Upper Peninsula from the north shore.

5. Dowagiac

The Grand Old City of southwestern Michigan. Dowagiac, pronounced Doe-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

Historic Dowagiac Train Station

The historic train station is a must-see when in Dowagiac

6. Onondaga

The small town of ON-on-DOG-ah is located near Lansing in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. The township and community were named after the Iroquois nation of Onondaga, historically based in New York. A post office was first established at the place about 1844, with Perez Howland as the first postmaster. In 1847 Perez Howland built a grocery, where the post office was operated out of. Today, Onondaga offers man home-town restaurants and taverns for visitors to enjoy.  If you’re looking for something sweet, check out Balzer Blueberries of Onondaga, a U-Pick Pure Michigan treat!

7. Ocqueoc

Ocqueoc is home to the largest waterfall in the Lower Peninsula. In addition to the falls, there is access to the Ocqueoc Falls Bicentennial Pathway, which includes loop lengths from six miles to three miles where you’re free to hike, cross country ski or bike. “Ah-KEY-ock” is the perfect place to get lost and explore the beautiful nature of Pure Michigan.

8. Ontonagon

Ontonagon County on the south shore of Lake Superior includes the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park , created in 1945. Famous locations in the park include the Lake of the Clouds, one of the most scenic spots in all of Michigan and Summit Peak Observation Tower, one of the highest points in found in the state. For history buffs, there are self-guided trails to old mining sites on the Union Mine Scenic Trail, and the Nonesuch Mine location. A trip to “On-TON-ogg-en” should be on every Michiganders bucket list!

Porcupine-Mountains-During-Fall

The Porcupine Mountains are truly spectacular in the fall, Photo Credit: Instagrammer @catchupandrelish

9. Bete Grise

Beet grease, you say? Not quite! Bay-DE-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.

10. Kitch-iti-kipi

Pronounced Kitch-ITI-kip-e (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.

Kitch-iti-kipi-during-fall

Kitch-iti-kipi is the largest spring in Michigan, Photo Credit: Instagrammer @michiganfromtheair

How many did you get correct?

How Did Michigan Cities Get Their Names? Part 10

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 and Part 9.

Today, check out part ten, which shares the stories of how five more Michigan cities were named.

Charlotte

The area that would become Charlotte was owned by the U.S. Government until 1832, when George Barnes purchased the land. Barnes in turn sold the land to Edmond B. Bostwick, a land speculator from New York City three years later in 1835. Bostwick then sold a portion of the land to H.I. Lawrence, Townsend Harris and Francis Cochran. These four men can be credited for developing the village which they named after Bostwick’s wife, Charlotte. Charlotte was incorporated as a village on October 10, 1863 and as a city on March 29, 1871. It was designated as the county seat when Eaton County was organized in 1837; however, due to a lack of population and buildings, county functions were conducted at Bellevue until 1840.

Sparta

The Sparta area was first settled in 1844, with the township formally organized in 1846. The first settler in what is now the village was Jonathan Nash in 1846. Calling the place Nashville, he built a sawmill on Lick Creek. Subsequently, he changed the name of the creek to Nash Creek. Seeing as there was already a Nashville in Michigan, the state legislature suggested Sparta. The village was platted in 1867 and incorporated in 1883.

Alpena

Alpena County was first named “An-a-ma-kee,” or “Thunder,” in honor of an old Chippewa chief of the Thunder Bay band who had signed a treaty negotiated with Henry Schoolcraft in 1826.  After studying the Indian legends around the word “An-a-ma-kee” (or Animikee), Henry Schoolcraft concluded that the name was not completely appropriate.  Then he manufactured the name Alpena from “Al,” an Indian syllable meaning the, and either “pinai,” an Arabic word meaning “partridge,” or “peanaisse,” an old French word meaning “bird.”

Frankfort

In 1855 a fellow by the name of Frank Martin built a home on the northern shores of the swamp delta of the Betsie River.   But then big snowdrifts surrounded the house; so Frank built a wooden stockade around it to keep the snowdrifts away.    His neighbors thought it looked like a fort, so when the neighbors referred to Martin’s home they called it “Franks Fort”.  As time went on, you guessed it, it was shortened to Frankfort and the town had a name.

Clarkston

Linux Jacox from New York built the first house in Clarkston in 1830. He sold his claim to Butler Holcomb in 1831. In 1832, Holcomb built the second house and a sawmill on sections 20 and 21. The town was named for the Clark brothers, from New York. Jeremiah Clark, from Onondaga County, New York, came to Detroit in 1831, and in the autumn of 1832 located on section 7 in Independence Township where he built a log cabin. Among his three children were three boys, Edwin, Milton and Newton. Nelson W. Clark arrived in 1836 and became a prominent citizen in the township. In 1838, Holcomb sold his interests to the Clark brothers, who then built a grist mill. In 1842, the Clark brothers platted a tract of land on section 20 for a village and gave it the name Clarkston.

Big & Little Tractor Days

Guest blogger Duane Davis is back with another unique event that speaks to the rich history and continuing tradition of Michigan’s rural community.

The sound of tractor motors filled the air at Charlotte’s 5th Annual Big & Little Tractor Days (pdf download). The weekend’s activities included Tractor Games, Tractor and Truck Pulls, Mini Mod Pulls and static tractor displays.

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