Michigan at 176 years old

By Saturday, January 26, 2013 grafphoto

Lovers Leap Archway at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Today marks the birthday of Michigan, where 176 years ago, Andrew Jackson signed the state into the Union.   As a native Michigander, I wonder about how often people think about the unique features of this place.   I suppose a birthday is as good as time as any to reflect back on what the area means to you.   This time of year, especially this last week with sub-zero temperatures, probably has many thinking they wished they were somewhere else.   I find myself also thinking that sometimes during the winter.   Snow and ice can bring great beauty and unique landscapes to explore, although I think everyone reaches that threshold when they can’t wait for signs of spring.

I took some time to read and refresh myself on some of the geological features of the state.   The state’s “motto” is  “Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice” which I must have forgotten along the way.   Translated from Latin it means “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.”   And when you think about it, this state has a heck of a lot of peninsulas other than the two most commonly referred to Upper and Lower.

The Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission Peninsula near Traverse City are known for their density of wineries, defying the previous proclamations that you can’t grow good wine grapes in this area.   The Thumb area gives us that feature that enables us to quickly use our hands as a reference map, darting into Lake Huron, and surrounded by the wreckages of many ships fallen to the storms of the Great Lakes.   The Keeweenaw Peninsula in the U.P. hosts beautiful scenery of Lake Superior and numerous waterfalls, and the only place on Earth where 97 percent pure copper can be economically recovered.    The Garden Peninsula also in the U.P., as part of the Niagara Escarpment, has limestone cliffs overlooking Lake Michigan.

Ice Sheets on Lake St. Clair | This lake is about a 1/2 hour drive from my home where I often go to check on winter conditions and ice formations.

No wonder Michigan has the most lighthouses of any state as well as a large number of shipwrecks.  There are plenty of land features to run aground on.   With at total of at least 7 peninsulas, the latin saying certainly makes sense, although I am not sure the Great Lakes mariners of times past consider all of them “pleasant.”

It seems every year I discover a new place I never knew about here, evidence that there is certainly a lifetime of exploration ahead.


Join the discussion 15 Comments

  • The more I see your photographs and hear about the features around those lakes, the more I want to photograph Michigan too.

  • Earl says:

    I’ve visited some of lower Michigan during free time when I use to have business trips to the Battle Creek area but I’ve never made it to northern Michigan or the UP. I’d love to do that some day. Wow…176 years old, the last time I was there it didn’t look a day over 150. 😉

  • pj says:

    Very nice tribute to your home state Mark.

    Haven’t been to Michigan in years… when I was a kid my folks had some friends in the UP, Ishpeming actually, and we’d drive over from Minnesota occasionally. That would have been shortly after statehood if I’m adding right… 🙂

    I do remember the UP as being truly beautiful country…

  • When my wife and I travelled the U.S. for six months we covered 33 States but sadly Michigan was not one of them and I knew, even back then, that we were missing out on something special. A few years later we did apply for a job in Michigan (at Kellogg’s of all places) and we got it until some upper management guy failed to approve it on the grounds that we were married. Apparently he didn’t like married contractors due to some bad experience with another couple. Whatever. Sometimes I wonder how different my life would be had we been hired.

    Anyway consider Michigan on my list of places to visit.

  • Wow, two gorgeous images to post and both depicting the seasonal differences within your state. Like Paul, there are so many places I really would like to visit including my own state of Colorado. Sounds like Michigan has so much to offer that I’m putting it on my list.

  • Paul says:

    Looks like I need to get up to Michigan, soon, but I’ve still so much to explore here in NC! 🙂 However, that said, I will leave the ice photography to you. You seem to specialize in it. LOL

  • ken bello says:

    I agree, Michigan is a beautiful state and any of your followers would also agree. In my visits there I know Michigan has great scenery and friendly people as well.

  • Howard Grill says:

    I have made two photo trips to the UP several years back and the scenery was totally amazing….like stepping into another world. Would love to go back again. Every bit as photogenic as the Southwest etc. Beautiful shots by the way!!

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