Michigan State Facts - Michigan History Firsts

Catch up on your state trivia with these Michigan history firsts and interesting fun facts about the state.

Official Name Michigan
Capital Lansing
42.70910 N, 084.55399 W
Constitution Ratified April 1,1963
Statehood January 26, 1837
26th state
Number of Counties 83 Counties in Michigan
Largest County
(by population)
Wayne County
614 sq. mi.

Michigan History Firsts & State Facts

  • 1668 - Sault Ste. Marie was founded by Father Jacques Marquette in 1668. It is the third oldest remaining settlement in the United States.
  • 1815 - The oldest county (based on date of incorporation) is Wayne.
  • 1817 - In 1817 the University of Michigan was the first university established by any of the states. Originally named Cathelepistemian and located in Detroit the name was changed in 1821. The university moved to Ann Arbor in 1841.
  • 1835 - Michigan State Great Seal: Find out more...
  • 1837 - Michigan was admitted to the Union in 1837, the 26th state. (Michigan Statehood)
  • 1855 - Michigan State University was founded in 1855 as the nation's first land-grant university and served as the prototype for 69 land-grant institutions later established under the Morrill Act of 1862. It was the first institution of higher learning in the nation to teach scientific agriculture.
  • 1862 - The current Michigan State University became the first land grant college in the United States
  • 1862 - Vernors ginger ale was created in Detroit and became the first soda pop made in the United States. In 1862, pharmacist James Vernor was trying to create a new beverage when he was called away to serve our country in the Civil War. When he returned, 4 years later, the drink he had stored in an oak case had acquired a delicious gingery flavor.
  • 1866 - The first soda pop made in the US, Vernor's ginger ale, was created by accident in Detroit.
  • 1879 - The first people in the nation to receive assigned phone numbers lived in Detroit.
  • 1879 - The state Capitol with its majestic dome was built in Lansing.
  • 1879 - Singing sand can be found on the beaches of Grand Haven. The sand particles make a whistling sound as you walk upon them.
  • 1891 - The world's first international submarine railway tunnel was opened between Port Huron, Michigan and Sarnia, Ontario, Canada in 1891.
  • 1893 - Henry Ford, who produced his first experimental car in 1893, founded the Ford Motor Company in 1903
  • 1895 - Seul Choix Point Lighthouse in Gulliver has been guiding ships since 1895. The working light also functions as a museum, which houses early 1900s furnishings and maritime artifacts.
  • 1897 - Michigan State Flower is the Apple Blossom
  • 1911 - Michigan State Flag: Find out more...
  • 1929 - The first state police radio system in the world was established in 1929 by the Michigan State Police.
  • 1931 - Michigan Official State Bird is the Robin
  • 1937 - "My Michigan," words by Giles Kavanagh and music by H. O'Reilly Clint was selected as Michigan State Song
  • 1939 - Packard Motor Car Company in Detroit manufactured the first air-conditioned car.
  • 1955 - Michigan State Tree: White Pine was adopted
  • 1957 - Mackinac Bridge: Completed in 1957, the five-mile-long suspension bridge (WORLD'S LONGEST SUSPENSION BRIDGE) connects Michigan's peninsulas across the Straits of Mackinac.
  • 1965 - Michigan chose the Petoskey Stone as its official state stone
  • 1973 - Isle Royal Greenstone was selected as Michigan State Gem
  • 1988 -
    • Eau Claire holds the annual International Cherry Pit Spitting Championship contest. The record set in 1988, was for spitting 72 feet, 7 1/2 inches.
    • Michigan State Fish is the Brook Trout
  • 1990 - Michigan State Soil: Kalkaska Soil Series was adopted
  • 1995 - Michigan adopted the painted turtle as Michigan's state reptile.
  • 1997 - Michigan State Game Mammal: Whitetail Deer was adopted
  • 1998 -
  • 2002 -

More Michigan History Firsts & State Facts

  • The name Michigan is derived from the Indian words "Michi-gama" meaning large lake.
  • The State Nickname is the "Great Lake State." Others include "Wolverine State" or "Water Winter Wonderland."
  • The Michigan State motto is "Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice." (If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.)
  • Michigan includes:
    • 57,022 sq. mi. of land area (16,439 sq. mi. in the U.P.)
    • 1,194 sq. mi. of inland waters
    • 38,575 sq. mi. of Great Lake water area
    • 3,126 miles of Great Lakes shoreline (more fresh water coastline than any other state. The Great Lakes account for one-fifth of the world's surface freshwater supply)
    • 19,000,000 acres of forest cover
  • Standing anywhere in the state a person is within 85 miles of one of the Great Lakes.
  • Forty of the state's 83 counties adjoin at least one of the Great Lakes. Michigan is the only state that touches four of the five Great Lakes.
  • Michigan has more than 11,000 inland lakes and more than 36,000 miles of streams. You are never more than six miles from one of them
  • Michigan has the longest freshwater shoreline in the world, and more shoreline than any other state except Alaska.
  • Michigan has 116 lighthouses and navigational lights.
  • Detroit is known as the car capital of the world.
  • The world's largest registered Holstein dairy herd is in Elsie.
  • Michigan is a leading state in the ownership of recreational boats and in the sale of hunting and fishing licenses.
  • Michigan has approximately 40 ski resorts.
  • Michigan has more than 4,000 miles of snowmobile trails.
  • Alpena is the home of the world's largest cement plant.
  • Rogers City boasts the world's largest limestone quarry.
  • Elsie is the home of the world's largest registered Holstein dairy herd.
  • Michigan is first in the United States production of peat and magnesium compounds and second in gypsum and iron ore.
  • Colon is home to the world's largest manufacture of magic supplies.
  • Grand Rapids was the first city in the US to put fluoride in their water.
  • The world's largest weather vain in located in Montague. It stands 48 feet tall and weighs 3,500 pounds. Its wind arrow is 26 feet long.
  • Michigan has the only floating post office in the world. The J.W. Westcott II delivers mail to ships still underway.
  • Spanning five miles between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan, The Mackinac Bridge is one of the longest suspension bridges in the world
  • Although Michigan is often called the "Wolverine State" there are no longer any wolverines in Michigan.
  • Michigan ranks first in state boat registrations.
  • The city of Novi was named from its designation as Stagecoach Stop # 6 or No.VI.
  • Michigan State University has the largest single campus student body of any Michigan university. It is the largest institution of higher learning in the state and one of the largest universities in the country.
  • The largest village in Michigan is Caro.
  • Michigan's state stone, The Petoskey is the official state stone. It is found along the shores of Lake Michigan.
  • Gerald R. Ford grew up in Grand Rapids and became the 38th president of the United States He attended the University of Michigan where he was a football star. He served on a World War II aircraft carrier and afterward represented Michigan in Congress for 24 years. He was also was an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouts.
  • The Kellogg Company has made Battle Creek the Cereal Capital of the World. The Kellogg brothers accidentally discovered the process for producing flaked cereal products and sparked the beginning of the dry cereal industry.
  • The western shore of Michigan has many sand dunes. The Sleeping Bear Dunes rise 460 feet above Lake Michigan. Living among the dunes is the dwarf lake iris the official state wildflower.
  • The Detroit Zoo was the first zoo in America to feature cageless, open-exhibits that allowed the animals more freedom to roam.
  • Michigan is the only place in the world with a floating post office. The J.W. Westcott II is the only boat in the world that delivers mail to ships while they are still underway. They have been operating for 125 years.
  • Indian River is the home of the largest crucifix in the world. It is called the Cross in the Woods.
  • The Ambassador Bridge was named by Joseph Bower, the person credited with making the bridge a reality, who thought the name "Detroit-Windsor International Bridge" as too long and lacked emotional appeal. Bower wanted to "symbolize the visible expression of friendship of two peoples with like ideas and ideals."
  • Sault Ste. Marie was established in 1668 making it the oldest town between the Alleghenies and the Rockies.
  • Michigan was the first state to provide in its Constitution for the establishment of public libraries.
  • Michigan was the first state to guarantee every child the right to tax-paid high school education.
  • Four flags have flown over Michigan - French, English, Spanish and United States.
  • Isle Royal Park shelters one of the largest moose herds remaining in the United States.
  • Some of the longest bulk freight carriers in the world operate on the Great Lakes. Ore carriers 1,000 feet long sail Michigan's inland seas.
  • The Upper Michigan Copper Country is the largest commercial deposit of native copper in the world.
  • The 19 chandeliers in the Capitol in Lansing are one of a kind and designed especially for the building by Tiffany's of New York. Weighing between 800-900 pounds apiece they are composed of copper, iron and pewter.
  • The first auto traffic tunnel built between two nations was the mile-long Detroit-Windsor tunnel under the Detroit River.
  • Michigan has 116 lighthouses and navigational lights.
  • The nation's first regularly scheduled air passage service began operation between Grand Rapids and Detroit in 1926.
  • Grand Rapids is home to the 24-foot Leonardo da Vinci horse, called Il Gavallo, it is the largest equestrian bronze sculpture in the Western Hemisphere.
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State Facts & History Firsts
State Fun Facts - History Firsts