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Historic Michigan Map 1839

An Almost Complete History of Michigan–Ok, Mostly the Upper Peninsula

It’s Michigan’s 179th birthday! Which also means it’s the Upper Peninsula’s 179th birthday. To celebrate we’re giving a bit of history lesson. We sure learned lots in this process.

We’ve compiled highlights from every year since Michigan’s admittance into statehood in 1837. But as we know, this just a small piece of Michigan’s rich history. Please share your additions in the comments below.

Now go do something a Michigander or a Yooper would do. Eat a pasty, or a coney dog. Visit Lake Superior, or Lake Huron. Visit Isle Royale, or Belle Isle. Drive across the International Bridge, or the Ambassador Bridge. Cheer for the Huskies, or the Wolverines. Watch Escanaba In Da Moonlight, or 8 Mile. Mostly, stay awesome and have fun out there.

Happy Birthday Michigan!


1837 Michigan admitted as 26th US state
1838 The Patriot War saw Irish nationalists invade Canada from southeast Michigan
1839 Thomas R. Tanner makes this map of Michigan
1840 Michigan State geologist Douglass Houghton (later to become the Mayor of Detroit) reports finding copper deposits on the Keweenaw Peninsula
1841 The University of Michigan moves from Detroit to Ann Arbor
1842 Treaty of La Pointe is the last Native American land cession in Michigan
1843 Delta County is set and organized
1843 Marquette County is set and organized
1844 William Austin Burt, the chief Michigan surveyor, discovers iron ore near present-day Teal Lake
1844 Fort Wilkins is built
1845 Frankenmuth is settled, meaning “courage of the Franconians”
1846 The Quincy Mine, or “Old Reliable”, begins copper mining operation
1846 Houghton County is set and organized
1847 Michigan is 1st state to abolish capital punishment
1847 A law was passed by the State Legislature to re-locate the state capital from Detroit to a site “in the township of Lansing, in the county of Ingham.”
1848 Ontonagon County is set and organized
1848 The Jackson Iron Company begins operation
1849 Whitefish Point Light is built
1850 The Adventure Mining Company in Greeland and operates until 1862
1851 To Lake Superior is published by Samuel G. Goodrich
1852 The Grand Traverse Light is lit
1853 The Marquette Harbor Light is lit
1854 The Republican Party is found in Jackson, MI.
1855 Michigan State University founded as Agricultural College of the State of Michigan
1855 The first iteration of the U.S. Soo Locks is completed
1856 The Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic Railway operates out of Marquette
1857 Alice B. Cowles House is completed at Michigan State University
1858 Negaunee receives its first post office
1859 University of Michigan Law School is established
1860 The Upper Peninsula supplies 90% of America’s copper
1861 Keweenaw County is set and organized
1862 1,209 soldiers from the Upper Peninsula fight in the Civil War
1863 Menominee County is set and organized
1864 The Michigan Car Company was organized in 1864 by John S. Newberry
1865 90,000 men, nearly a quarter of the state’s male population fights in the Civil War
1866 Calumet Township is organized
1866 The first soda pop in the U.S. is available in Detroit, discovered by pharmacist James Vernor
1867 Michigan Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument is built in Detroit
1868 Bishop Baraga dies in Marquette
1868 The Grand Island East Channel Light is lit
1868 The Cliffs Shaft Mine opens in Ishpeming
1869 Phi Delta Phi founded at University of Michigan as the oldest professional fraternity in continuous existence
1870 Michigan State University Spartan Marching Band established
1871 Great Michigan Fire occurs, burning 2.5 million acres of land
1872 Arvon Township is established
1873 Michigan Railroad Commission is established
1874 Au Sable Light is lit
1874 The world’s only floating post office begins operation as J.W. Westcott company delivering mail to Great Lakes vessels.
1875 Mackinac Island became the second National Park in the United States after Yellowstone National Park in the Rocky Mountains, and was decommissioned in 1895 by Governor John T. Rich
1875 Baraga County is set and organized
1876 Schoolcraft County is set and organized
1877 Bay Furnace campgrounds in Christmas are destroyed by fire
1878 Hermansville is established
1879 State Capitol dedicated in Lansing at a cost of $1,510,130
1880 Crystal Falls is established
1881 The Thumb Fire or Great Forest Fire of 1881 burns over one million acres and kills 282 people
1882 Newberry is founded
1883 The Stannard Rock Light is constructed in Lake Superior
1884 Bessemer was founded, named in honor of Henry Bessemer, a British metallurgist
1885 Michigan Tech University is founded as Michigan Mining School
1885 Alger Counter is set and organized
1885 Iron County is set and organized
1886 Garden is incorporated as a village
1887 Gogebic County is set and founded
1887 Luce County is set and organized
1888 Michigan Wolverines football team finishes 2-1 without a coach
1889 The Iron River Meteorite is discovered by six-year-old Peter Peterson
1889 Hamilton Carhartt founded a U.S.-based clothing company, Carhartt, Inc. in Detroit
1890 Michigan Wolverines football team finishes 4-1 without a coach
1891 Dickinson County is set and organized
1891 The Chapin Mine Steam Pump Engine is built, the world’s largest
1892 Edison Sault Electric Company founded in Sault Ste. Marie, providing power to the Eastern Upper Peninsula
1893 Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad opens in Marquette
1894 The Redridge Steel Dam is built
1895 George Gipp is born in Laurium
1896 Finlandia University is founded as Suomi College by J. K. Nikander
1897 Ransom E. Olds founds Oldsmobile
1898 Arcadian mine opens east of Hancock
1899 Northern Michigan University is founded as Northern State Normal School
1900 Clarence John “Taffy” Abe is born in Sault Ste. Marie
1901 The Tigers play their first game as a major league team at home against the Milwaukee Brewers
1902 First professional ice hockey team is formed in the Copper Country
1903 John D. Voelker is born in Ishpeming
1903 Stormy Kromer is founded after George asks his wife Ida to make a hat that would stay firmly on his head
1904 The Crisp Point Light is lit
1905 The National Ski Association is formed in Ishpeming and becomes the birthplace of skiing in America
1906 Michigan’s first concrete pavement installed in Calumet
1906 Will Keith Kellogg founded the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company
1907 Faygo is founded in Detroit, MI
1908 The world’s largest cement plant begin production in Alpena, MI
1909 Henry Ford’s first Ford Model T automobile leaves the Piquette Plant in Detroit, Michigan
1910 Houghton County’s population nears 90,000 people
1911 President William Taft becomes first incumant to visit the Upper Peninsula
1911 First documented use of a painted center line was in 1911 along Trenton’s River Road in Wayne County
1911 Chase Osborn becomes the only Michigan Governor from the Upper Peninsula, he lived in Sault Ste. Marie
1912 Eagle Harbor Coast Guard Station Boathouse begins service
1913 The Italian Hall Disaster occurs in Calumet
1913 Great Lakes Storm, killing 250 people and destroying 19 ships
1913 The Michigan State Trunkline Highway System is formed
1913 Henry Ford installs the first assembly line for mass production of the automobile
1913 The Calumet Colosseum is built
1914 Dollar Bay High School opens
1915 The Holy Family Orphanage in Marquette opens
1916 The Michigan Open plays it’s first annual golf tournament
1917 Gus Keros opens American Coney Island in Detroit
1918 Village of Caspian incoporated, in 2010 their population was 906 people
1919 Michigan State park system is created
1920 WWJ airs its first radio broadcast
1921 Michigan Department of Agriculture is created
1922 Charlie Robertson throws perfect games against the Detroit Tigers
1923 The 26,000 square foot lodge, Granot Loma, is completed for $5 million, equivalent of $70 million today
1924 1924 U.S. Open golf tournament played at Oakland Hills Country Club
1925 Suicide Hill Ski Jump opens in Negaunee
1925 National Cherry Festival begins in Traverse City
1926 51 people are killed in the Barnes-Hecker mining disaster in Ishpeming, the deadliest in Michigan history
1926 The Detroit Red Wings play their first game as the Detroit Cougars
1926 Harry Houdini’s last performance, which was at the Garrick Theatre in Detroit, Michigan
1926 The Pickle Barrel House is built
1927 Bath School disaster kills 45 people
1928 The Ironwood Theatre opens downtown
1928 Trenary Bakery opens
1929 The Michigan State Police established the first state police radio system in the world.
1930 The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel is completed and is the first international underground vehicle tunnel.
1931 The Keweenaw receives 81 inches of snow, the lowest on record for the area
1931 Hiawatha National Forest is established
1932 Gogebic College was founded as Ironwood Junior College
1932 Weldon Howard “Weldy” Olson is born in Marquette
1933 Michigan became the first state to ratify the 21st amendment, which repealed the prohibition of alcohol
1934 The Portsmouth Spartans are purchased for $7,952.08, relocated, and named the Detroit Lions
1934 The first Abbotts Magic Get Together was attended by 80 magicians in Colon, MI “The Magic Capital of the World”
1935 The Seney National Wildlife Refuge is established
1936 Escanaba endures the all-time hottest temperatures in the Upper Peninsula of 104 degrees
1936 Henry Ford builds sawmill in Alberta
1937 The Battle of the Overpass and Flint sit-down strike take place, clashing with automakers
1938 A factory is built in Christmas to make gifts for sale at Christmas time
1939 The first air-conditioned car is manufactured by the Packard Motor Car Company in Detroit
1940 Isle Royale National Park was established
1941 The Detroit Pistons are founded as the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons
1942 The first B-24 bomber rolls off the assembly line at the Willow Run Bomber Plant near Ypsilanti
1943 Detroit race riot of 1943
1943 Kincheloe Air Force Base opens
1944 Diana Ross is born in Detroit, MI
1945 Porcupine Mountains State Park is established
1946 Lake Superior State University is founded as Sault Ste. Marie Residence Center of the Michigan College of Mining & Technology
1947 Largest recorded earthquake in Michigan with a magnitude of 4.6
1948 Bill Knapp’s opens in Battle Creek
1949 Selfridge AFB radar station begins operations in Detroit
1950 Dick Pole is born in Trout Creek
1950 Stevie Wonder is born in Saginaw, MI
1951 Calumet and Sault Sainte Marie Air Force Station open for operations
1951 Major League Baseball All-Star Game held at Briggs Stadium (Tigers Stadium)
1952 Michigan State Spartans football team wins national championship
1953 PGA Championship played at Birmingham Country Club
1954 The Detroit Red Wings beat the Marquette Prison Pirates 18-0, in an outdoor exhibitation game at the Marquette Branch Prison
1955 Tom Izzo born is born in Iron Mountain
1955 Steve Mariucci is born in Iron Mountain
1956 WLUC-TV goes on the air as WDMJ-TV
1957 Mackinac Bridge opens
1958 Madonna is born in Bay City
1958 Anatomy of a Murder (book) is published by Robert Traver (John D. Voelker)
1959 Anatomy of a Murder (film) is released
1959 Official opening of K. I. Sawyer Air Force Base
1959 The Portage Lake Lift Bridge opens between Houghton and Hancock
1960 Barry Gordy Jr. incorporated his Motown Record Company and creates the birhtplace of the Motown sound
1961 Area code 906 is created as a split from 616
1962 Michigan Tech wins its first hockey National Championship under coach John MacInnes
1962 The International Bridge opens, connecting Sault Ste. Marie to Sault Ste. Marie, Canada
1963 Malcom X makes his “Message to the Grass Roots” speech
1964 The Michigan Five Fluke Freshmen elected, all subsequently defeated two years later
1965 Michigan Department of Natural Resources was created
1966 Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is established
1967 One of the largest riots in American history breaks out in Detroit amid racial tensions.
1968 The Tower of History is built in Sault Ste. Marie by the Catholic Church as the Shrine of the Missionaries
1969 The first I-500 Snowmobile Race takes place in Sault Ste. Marie
1970 Copper Peak is built in near Ironwood and remains the only ski flying hill in the Western Hempisphere
1970 Harbor Tower is built in Escanaba, and remains the largest buliding in the Upper Peninsula
1971 The lower harbor ore dock in Marquette ceases operations
1971 WMQT goes on the air
1972 Eminem is born in Detroit as Marshall Mathers III
1973 Ohio State vs. Michigan football game is one of the most controversial games in history, finishing with a 10-10 tie
1974 Gerald R. Ford of Grand Rapids becomes the only U.S. President from Michigan and the 38th President of the United States
1975 SS Edmund Fitzgerald sinks in Lake Superior outside of Whitefish Point
1976 Bill Rabe creates the Banished Words List at Lake Superior State University
1977 The Renaissance Center is dedicated in Detroit
1978 Jet’s Pizza is established in Sterling Heights
1979 The Keweenaw receives 355 inches of snow, the most in Michigan history
1979 The inagural Hiawatha Music Festival hosted in Champion
1980 Somewhere in Time is filmed on Mackinac Island
1981 MV Paul R. Tregurtha becomes the longest ship on the Great Lakes
1981 Serena Williams is born in Saginaw, MI
1982 Mount Arvon is determined to be one foot taller than Mount Curwood, as Michigan’s highest peak
1983 Bell’s Brewery was founded in Kalamazoo
1984 Whitehall Metal Studios, Inc. builds and donates the world’s largest weathervane to the community of Montague, MI
1985 Michigan Department of Natural Resources captures and tranports wild moose from Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada to Marquette County
1986 Michigan International Speedway hosts the NASCAR Spark Plug 400
1987 Culture Shock is released by Da Yoopers, including the hits “Second Week of Deer Camp” and “Rusty Chevrolet”
1988 Lake Superior State University wins their first hockey National Championship under coach Frank Anzalone
1988 Karl Bohank begins his career as a TV6 meteorologist
1989 Detroit Pistons win NBA Championship
1990 The first UP 200 sled dog race occurs takes places in Marquette
1991 The Superior Dome (or Yooper Dome), opens as the “world’s largest wooden dome”
1991 Northern Michigan University wins hockey National Champsion under coach Rick Comley
1992 Keweenaw National Historical Park is established in Calumet
1993 Baraga Correctional Facility opens
1993 First annual Trenary Outhouse Race
1994 Detroit Vipers inaugural hockey season
1995 The Detroit newspaper strike begins and lasts for two years
1996 “HOCKEYTOWN” displays at Joe Louis Area for the first time, they’d go on to win the Stanley Cup with the Russian Five
1996 Suzanne Kindler writes “Up North” poem
1997 Oswald’s Bear Ranch opens in Newberry
1997 World’s largest piece of float copper discovered in Hancock
1998 Noquemanon Ski Marathon is founded
1999 Barry Sanders retires
2000 Comerica Park opens
2001 Stormy Kromer is purchased by Jacqurt Fabrics and moves to Ironwood
2001 Escanaba in Da Moonlight debuts
2002 Marmot Day in celebration of all marmots celebrated in Owosso
2003 Jennifer Granholm is sworn in as Michigan’s first female Governor
2003 The word “Yooper” makes its first appearance on Jeopardy
2004 President George W. Bush becomes first incumant to visit the Upper Peninsula since William Taft in 1911
2005 Crystal Hayes of Rock becomes first Miss Michigan winner from the Upper Peninsula
2006 Half of Miners Castle falls into Lake Superior
2007 Sleeper Lakes Fire burns nearly 20,000 acers north of Newberry
2008 Yooper Steez is founded by Bugsy Sailor (oh c’mon, had to put one in here)
2008 Marquette High School plays in the second longest record game in high school history, an 8 OT game against Orchard Lake
2009 Bill No. 4995 approved by Michigan House, requiring the Upper Peninsula to be on all official state documents
2010 Rabbit Island is purchased and made into an artist residency
2011 President Obama visits Marquette, the third incumbent to visit the Upper Peninsula
2012 Detroit tigers win the American League Championship Series
2013 Jim Harrison pens Upper Peninsula piece for the New York Times
2014 ‘Yooper’ added to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary
2015 Lake Superior reaches 96% ice cover
2016 … let’s make history

5 Wonderful Comments

  1. Bill Ward
    Jan 26, 2016

    Does anybody know anything about the UP separatist movement in the years immediately following the end of the Civil War?

  2. Vernors was 1866 not 1966 :)

  3. Jeannie Gourneau
    Jan 26, 2016

    Very informative & interesting. Baraga Max opened in 1992, not 1993.

  4. Lynn Harmon
    Jan 26, 2016

    Very interesting even with the typos. In 1918 Herbert Larson established the very first roadside park in Bates Township, Iron County.

  5. Russell Stephen Rein
    Jan 26, 2016

    The northern terminus of the Dixie Highway was extended to Sault Ste Marie in around 1916.

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