Michigan, The Great Lakes State

Michigan, The Great Lakes State

by Sandra Merville Hart

Michigan’s official nickname is The Great Lakes State. It borders 4 of the 5 Great Lakes: Michigan, Erie, Superior, and Huron.

Another nickname for Michigan is The Wolverine State.

The early history of Michigan

In 1668, Father Jacques Marquette, a French priest, established the first permanent settlement in Michigan when he built a mission called Sault Saint Marie.

The British took over the area after the French and Indian War (1754-63) and stayed even though the Treaty of Paris gave the Northwest Territories to the United States after the Revolutionary War. Native Americans and many settlers preferred British control.

Indian tribes banded together. In 1795 they lost the Battle of Fallen Timbers and the British left a year later. United States then controlled the area.

Michigan becomes a state

Michigan became the twenty-sixth state on January 26, 1837. The capitol is Lansing.

Mail by pail

Captain John Ward Westcott rowed shipping orders and route updates to passing ships beginning in 1874. The ship secured the rowboat with a towline. Then Westcott put the orders into a bucket lowered by rope by the ship’s crew. Before long, Westcott added mail delivery to the system.

ford-1526572_960_720The J.W. Westcott Company developed into one of the world’s most famous ship-to-shore delivery services.


Ransom E. Olds, Lansing, started the first auto manufacturer in Michigan in 1897. Henry Ford established the Ford Motor Company in 1903. Automobiles grew to be an important industry in the state.

Factories were so busy during World War II that they didn’t close. Detroit earned the nickname “Arsenal of Democracy” because of its large production of military equipment.

Mackinac Bridge

mackinac-175167_960_720One of the world’s longest bridges, Mackinac Bridge, connects the upper peninsula of Michigan to the lower. The five-mile bridge took three years to build.

Other fun facts about Michigan

The Kellogg brothers put Battle Creek on the map when they accidentally figured out how to make cereal flakes. The city is now the Cereal Capital of the World.

The Cross in the Woods, the world’s largest crucifix, is located at Indian River.

Visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore  to see sandstone cliffs along the shoreline of Lake Superior.

The state has over 11,000 inland lakes.

The state flower is the apple blossom.




Gutman, Bill. The Look-It-Up Book of the 50 States, Random House, 2002.

“J.W. Westcott Company,” Detroit Historical Society, 2016/07/14 http://detroithistorical.org/learn/encyclopedia-of-detroit/jw-westcott-company

“Michigan,” History.com, 2016/07/14   http://www.history.com/topics/us-states/michigan.

“Michigan,” State Symbols USA, 2016/07/14   http://www.statesymbolsusa.org/states/united-states/michigan.

“Michigan Facts and Trivia,” 50 States.com, 2016/07/14  http://www.50states.com/facts/michigan.htm.


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