Surprisingly Fun Facts About Michigan

min read
The Detroit skyline at dusk.
BetMGM Aug 08, 2023, 10:54 AM

Situated in the heart of the Great Lakes region, Michigan is a diverse state famed for its lengthy freshwater coastline and striking landscapes. From the birthplace of the U.S. auto industry and Motown music in Detroit to stunning natural vistas, Michigan blends historic charm and modern appeal. 

The Great Lakes State is also a treasure trove of unique stories (including access to an online poker) that have, over time, woven an intriguing fabric of history, geography and culture. It’s time to unearth some of the lesser-known fun facts about Michigan, revealing hidden gems and facets of Michigan that make it a truly remarkable part of the United States.

Geographical Wonders

The Great Lakes State

The journey begins with an impressive geographical fact: Michigan is the only American state that borders four of the five Great Lakes – Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie – boasting some of the most amazing boat tours the U.S. has to offer. More significantly, Michigan’s shoreline, stretching over 3,200 miles, is the longest freshwater coastline in the U.S. and the second-longest of any state, behind Alaska.

Island Treasures

Not just lakes, Michigan is also a state of islands. Boasting over 11,000 inland lakes and around 36,000 miles of streams, it also houses over 150 islands. Isle Royale, situated in Lake Superior, is a haven for nature enthusiasts with its national park offering a pristine wilderness experience, while Mackinac Island is a historical and cultural treasure.

A Dark Sky

The Headlands in Mackinaw City is a unique attraction in Michigan as it’s one of the few internationally designated Dark Sky Parks. Spanning 600 acres of woodland and more than two miles of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline, it provides an optimal location for stargazing. Here, the absence of light pollution allows visitors to marvel at the Milky Way, meteor showers and even the stunning aurora borealis, making it an unforgettable experience for astronomy enthusiasts.

A Journey Through History

The Auto Industry Birthplace

Detroit, Michigan’s largest city, carries the nickname “Motor City” for a significant reason – it’s the birthplace of the American automobile industry. In 1896, Henry Ford, a Detroit resident, built his first car, the Quadricycle, marking the genesis of the Ford Motor Company and a turning point in transportation history.

A Historical Road

Adding to Michigan’s historical charm is the iconic Woodward Avenue, one of the country’s first paved roads. It also serves as the dividing line between Detroit’s East and West sides. Interestingly, this road is also home to the annual Woodward Dream Cruise, the world’s largest one-day automotive event.

A Piece of Holland

The De Zwaan Windmill, nestled in the quaint town of Holland, Michigan, holds a unique status. It’s not just a replica; this Dutch windmill, dating back to 1761, is the oldest functioning Dutch windmill in the United States. In a remarkable feat of international cooperation, it was disassembled in the Netherlands, shipped to America and painstakingly reconstructed in Holland, Michigan, in 1964. 

The windmill still grinds wheat into flour, providing a living link to Michigan’s Dutch heritage. This historic gem, surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens and a Dutch village, offers an authentic slice of the Netherlands on American soil.

The Floating Post Office

The JW Westcott II holds a unique distinction as the world’s only floating postal office. Located in Detroit, Michigan, this ship has been delivering mail to passing ships since 1874. The mail is hoisted aboard using a bucket on a line. Remarkably, the JW Westcott II even has its own ZIP code, 48222. Besides mail, it also delivers goods like groceries and provides essential services like pilot changes for navigating the Detroit River.

Cultural Intricacies

The Motown Sound

Another cool fact about Michigan is that the Motown Sound, born in Detroit during the late 1950s, significantly influenced the direction of pop music. Motown Records, founded by Berry Gordy, was home to iconic artists like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes and The Temptations. 

The Motown Sound was a unique blend of gospel, R&B, pop and soul delivered with polished, catchy melodies and deeply emotive lyrics. Motown’s infectious rhythms and strong vocal performances made it universally loved and it continues to shape today’s music landscape, reaffirming Michigan’s legacy as a musical powerhouse.

The Cherry Capital

Here’s one of the most interesting facts about Michigan. Did you know Michigan is the cherry capital of the world? Traverse City, in particular, produces a whopping 75% of the nation’s tart cherry crop. The city even hosts an annual National Cherry Festival, drawing visitors worldwide to celebrate and savor this delightful fruit.

A Cross in the Woods

The Cross in the Woods is a striking sight. It’s the largest crucifix in the world, nestled within the Cross in the Woods Catholic Shrine in Indian River, Michigan. This awe-inspiring 55-foot-tall sculpture features a 28-foot-tall figure of Christ, mesmerizing visitors with its spiritual symbolism and artistic splendor.

Contemporary Curiosities

The U.P.

In Michigan, you’ll find a region fondly referred to as “The U.P.” or Upper Peninsula. The region is a wild, untouched wonderland home to just 3% of Michigan’s population. Spanning more than 16,000 square miles, it boasts spectacular natural beauty with vast forests, shimmering lakes and stunning waterfalls.

What makes The U.P. intriguing is a distinctive local dialect known as “Yooper” spoken by residents affectionately known as Yoopers. It’s a unique blend of various influences. Stemming from Cornish, Finnish and Scandinavian roots, the dialect includes distinctive vocabulary and phonetic quirks, recognized by the American Dialect Society and the Miriam Webster Dictionary.

Luge and Skate

The Muskegon Winter Sports Complex is a hub for cold-weather activities, located within the beautiful Muskegon State Park in Michigan. The complex features one of only four luge tracks in the United States, an activity typically hard to find outside the Olympic Games. Visitors can also enjoy ice skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and sledding across its 1,200 acres.

Michigan Left

Finally, one of the most interesting things about Michigan is its unusual driving rule. The “Michigan Left” is a unique maneuver requiring drivers to turn right, then make a U-turn instead of taking a conventional left turn. This peculiar practice ensures smoother traffic flow and has been adopted in a few other states.

BetMGM, a Michigan Staple

From being the cradle of the auto industry to producing the lion’s share of America’s cherries, hosting an exclusive driving practice to nurturing a unique dialect, these Michigan facts are indeed peculiar and fascinating. 

When you’re not busy traveling through this magnificent state, register with BetMGM to explore the wonderful world of online casino games. From online poker to bingo and everything in between, BetMGM has a game to suit your online gambling needs.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.