An (almost) Complete History of Michigan–Ok, Mostly the Upper Peninsula

Today is Michigan’s 185th birthday! To celebrate we’re giving a bit of history lesson. We hope you’ll learn as much we did putting this together.

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.

Things to do in Michigan today…

  • Eat a pasty, or a coney dog
  • Visit Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, or Lake Erie
  • Visit Presque Isle, or Belle Isle
  • Drive across the International Bridge, or the Ambassador Bridge, or the Mackinac Bridge, or the Portage Lift Bridge
  • Cheer for the Huskies, or the Wolverines, or the Wildcats, or the Spartans
  • Watch Escanaba In Da Moonlight, or 8 Mile.

Stay awesome, keep exploring, and do all the fun things in Michigan.

An almost complete Upper Peninsula timeline

1836The Toledo War ends on December 14 at the Frostbite Convention in Ann Arbor
1837On January 26 Michigan admitted as 26th U.S. state
1838The Patriot War saw Irish nationalists invade Canada from southeast Michigan
1839Thomas R. Tanner makes this map of Michigan
1840Michigan State geologist Douglass Houghton (later to become the Mayor of Detroit) reports finding copper deposits on the Keweenaw Peninsula
1841The University of Michigan moves from Detroit to Ann Arbor
1842Treaty of La Pointe is the last Native American land cession in Michigan
1843Delta County is set and organized
1843Marquette County is set and organized
1844William Austin Burt, the chief Michigan surveyor, discovers iron ore near present-day Teal Lake
1844Fort Wilkins is built
1845Frankenmuth is settled, meaning “courage of the Franconians”
1846The Quincy Mine, or “Old Reliable”, begins copper mining operation
1846Houghton County is set and organized
1847A 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.”
1847Michigan is 1st state to abolish capital punishment
1848The Jackson Iron Company begins operation
1848Ontonagon County is set and organized
1849Whitefish Point Light is built
1850The Adventure Mining Company in Greeland and operates until 1862
1851To Lake Superior is published by Samuel G. Goodrich
1852The Grand Traverse Light is lit
1853The Marquette Harbor Light is lit
1854The Republican Party is founded in Jackson, MI.
1855The first iteration of the U.S. Soo Locks is completed
1855Michigan State University founded as Agricultural College of the State of Michigan
1856The Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic Railway operates out of Marquette
1857Alice B. Cowles House is completed at Michigan State University
1858Negaunee receives its first post office
1859University of Michigan Law School is established
1860The Upper Peninsula supplies 90% of America’s copper
1861Keweenaw County is set and organized
18621,209 soldiers from the Upper Peninsula fight in the Civil War
1863Menominee County is set and organized
1864The Michigan Car Company was organized in 1864 by John S. Newberry
186590,000 men, nearly a quarter of the state’s male population fights in the Civil War
1866The first soda pop in the U.S. is available in Detroit, discovered by pharmacist James Vernor
1866Calumet Township is organized
1867Michigan Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument is built in Detroit
1868Bishop Baraga dies in Marquette
1868The Grand Island East Channel Light is lit
1868The Cliffs Shaft Mine opens in Ishpeming
1869Phi Delta Phi founded at University of Michigan as the oldest professional fraternity in continuous existence
1870Michigan State University Spartan Marching Band established
1871Great Michigan Fire occurs, burning 2.5 million acres of land
1872Arvon Township is established
1873Michigan Railroad Commission is established
1874The world’s only floating post office begins operation as J.W. Westcott company delivering mail to Great Lakes vessels.
1874Au Sable Light is lit
1875Mackinac 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
1875Baraga County is set and organized
1876Schoolcraft County is set and organized
1877Bay Furnace campgrounds in Christmas are destroyed by fire
1878Hermansville is established
1879State Capitol dedicated in Lansing at a cost of $1,510,130
1880Crystal Falls is established
1881The Thumb Fire or Great Forest Fire of 1881 burns over one million acres and kills 282 people
1882Newberry is founded
1883The Stannard Rock Light is constructed in Lake Superior
1884Bessemer was founded, named in honor of Henry Bessemer, a British metallurgist
1885Iron County is set and organized
1885Michigan Tech University is founded as Michigan Mining School
1885Alger Counter is set and organized
1886Garden is incorporated as a village
1887Luce County is set and organized
1887Gogebic County is set and founded
1888Michigan Wolverines football team finishes 2-1 without a coach
1889Hamilton Carhartt founded a U.S.-based clothing company, Carhartt, Inc. in Detroit
1889The Iron River Meteorite is discovered by six-year-old Peter Peterson
1890Michigan Wolverines football team finishes 4-1 without a coach
1891The Chapin Mine Steam Pump Engine is built, the world’s largest
1891Dickinson County is set and organized
1892Edison Sault Electric Company founded in Sault Ste. Marie, providing power to the Eastern Upper Peninsula
1893Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad opens in Marquette
1894The Redridge Steel Dam is built
1895George Gipp is born in Laurium
1896Finlandia University is founded as Suomi College by J. K. Nikander
1897Ransom E. Olds founds Oldsmobile
1898Arcadian mine opens east of Hancock
1899Northern Michigan University is founded as Northern State Normal School
1900Clarence John “Taffy” Abel is born in Sault Ste. Marie
1901The Tigers play their first game as a major league team at home against the Milwaukee Brewers
1902First professional ice hockey team is formed in the Copper Country
1903Stormy Kromer is founded after George asks his wife Ida to make a hat that would stay firmly on his head
1903John D. Voelker is born in Ishpeming
1904The Crisp Point Light is lit
1905The National Ski Association is formed in Ishpeming and becomes the birthplace of skiing in America
1906Michigan’s first concrete pavement installed in Calumet
1906Will Keith Kellogg founded the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company
1907Faygo is founded in Detroit, MI
1908The world’s largest cement plant begin production in Alpena, MI
1909Henry Ford’s first Ford Model T automobile leaves the Piquette Plant in Detroit, Michigan
1910Houghton County’s population nears 90,000 people
1911First documented use of a painted center line was in 1911 along Trenton’s River Road in Wayne County
1911President William Taft becomes first incumbent to visit the Upper Peninsula
1911Chase Osborn becomes the only Michigan Governor from the Upper Peninsula, he lived in Sault Ste. Marie
1912Eagle Harbor Coast Guard Station Boathouse begins service
1913Henry Ford installs the first assembly line for mass production of the automobile
1913The Calumet Colosseum is built
1913The Michigan State Trunkline Highway System is formed
1913Great Lakes Storm, killing 250 people and destroying 19 ships
1913The Italian Hall Disaster occurs in Calumet
1914Dollar Bay High School opens
1915The Holy Family Orphanage in Marquette opens
1916The Michigan Open plays it’s first annual golf tournament
1917Gus Keros opens American Coney Island in Detroit
1918Village of Caspian incoporated, in 2010 their population was 906 people
1919Michigan State park system is created
1920WWJ airs its first radio broadcast
1921Michigan Department of Agriculture is created
1922Charlie Robertson throws perfect games against the Detroit Tigers
1923The 26,000 square foot lodge, Granot Loma, is completed for $5 million, equivalent of $70 million today
1925Suicide Hill Ski Jump opens in Negaunee
1925National Cherry Festival begins in Traverse City
1926The Pickle Barrel House is built
1926The Detroit Red Wings play their first game as the Detroit Cougars
192651 people are killed in the Barnes-Hecker mining disaster in Ishpeming, the deadliest in Michigan history
1926Harry Houdini’s last performance, which was at the Garrick Theatre in Detroit, Michigan
1927Bath School disaster kills 45 people
1928Trenary Bakery opens, the home of Trenary Toast
1928The Ironwood Theatre opens downtown
1929The Michigan State Police established the first state police radio system in the world.
1930The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel is completed and is the first international underground vehicle tunnel.
1931Hiawatha National Forest is established
1931The Keweenaw receives only 81 inches of snow this winter, the lowest on record for the area
1932Weldon Howard “Weldy” Olson is born in Marquette
1932Gogebic College was founded as Ironwood Junior College
1933Michigan became the first state to ratify the 21st amendment, which repealed the prohibition of alcohol
1934The first Abbotts Magic Get Together was attended by 80 magicians in Colon, MI “The Magic Capital of the World”
1934The Portsmouth Spartans are purchased for $7,952.08, relocated, and named the Detroit Lions
1935The Seney National Wildlife Refuge is established
1936Henry Ford builds sawmill in Alberta
1936Escanaba endures the all-time hottest temperatures in the Upper Peninsula of 104 degrees
1937The Battle of the Overpass and Flint sit-down strike take place, clashing with automakers
1938A factory is built in Christmas to make gifts for sale at Christmas time
1939The first air-conditioned car is manufactured by the Packard Motor Car Company in Detroit
1940Isle Royale National Park was established
1941The Detroit Pistons are founded as the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons
1942The first B-24 bomber rolls off the assembly line at the Willow Run Bomber Plant near Ypsilanti
1943Detroit race riot of 1943
1943Kincheloe Air Force Base opens
1944Diana Ross is born in Detroit, MI
1945Porcupine Mountains State Park is established
1946Lake Superior State University is founded as Sault Ste. Marie Residence Center of the Michigan College of Mining & Technology
1947Largest recorded earthquake in Michigan with a magnitude of 4.6
1948Bill Knapp’s opens in Battle Creek
1949Selfridge AFB radar station begins operations in Detroit
1950Dick Pole is born in Trout Creek
1950Stevie Wonder is born in Saginaw, MI
1951Calumet and Sault Sainte Marie Air Force Station open for operations
1951Major League Baseball All-Star Game held at Briggs Stadium (Tigers Stadium)
1952Michigan State Spartans football team wins national championship
1953PGA Championship played at Birmingham Country Club
1954The Detroit Red Wings beat the Marquette Prison Pirates 18-0, in an outdoor exhibitation game at the Marquette Branch Prison
1955Steve Mariucci is born in Iron Mountain
1955Tom Izzo born is born in Iron Mountain
1956WLUC-TV goes on the air as WDMJ-TV
1957The Mackinac Bridge opens
1958Madonna is born in Bay City
1958Anatomy of a Murder (book) is published by Robert Traver (John D. Voelker)
1959Anatomy of a Murder (film) is released
1959The Portage Lake Lift Bridge opens between Houghton and Hancock
1959Official opening of K. I. Sawyer Air Force Base
1960Barry Gordy Jr. incorporated his Motown Record Company and creates the birhtplace of the Motown sound
1961Area code 906 is created as a split from 616
1962The International Bridge opens, connecting Sault Ste. Marie to Sault Ste. Marie, Canada
1962Michigan Tech wins its first hockey National Championship under coach John MacInnes
1963Malcom X makes his “Message to the Grass Roots” speech
1964The Michigan Five Fluke Freshmen elected, all subsequently defeated two years later
1965Michigan Department of Natural Resources was created
1966Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is established
1967One of the largest riots in American history breaks out in Detroit amid racial tensions.
1968The Tower of History is built in Sault Ste. Marie by the Catholic Church as the Shrine of the Missionaries
1969The first I-500 Snowmobile Race takes place in Sault Ste. Marie
1970Copper Peak is built in near Ironwood and remains the only ski flying hill in the Western Hempisphere
1970Harbor Tower is built in Escanaba, and remains the largest buliding in the Upper Peninsula
1971WMQT goes on the air
1971The lower harbor ore dock in Marquette ceases operations
1972Eminem is born in Detroit as Marshall Mathers III
1973Ohio State vs. Michigan football game becomes one of the most controversial games in history, finishing with a 10-10 tie
1974Gerald R. Ford of Grand Rapids becomes the only U.S. President from Michigan and the 38th President of the United States
1975SS Edmund Fitzgerald sinks in Lake Superior outside of Whitefish Point
1976Bill Rabe creates the Banished Words List at Lake Superior State University
1977The Renaissance Center is dedicated in Detroit
1978Jet’s Pizza is established in Sterling Heights
1979The Keweenaw receives 355 inches of snow, the most in Michigan history
1979The inagural Hiawatha Music Festival hosted in Champion
1980Somewhere in Time is filmed on Mackinac Island
1981Serena Williams is born in Saginaw, MI
1981MV Paul R. Tregurtha becomes the longest ship on the Great Lakes
1982Mount Arvon is determined to be one foot taller than Mount Curwood, as Michigan’s highest peak
1983Bell’s Brewery was founded in Kalamazoo
1984Whitehall Metal Studios, Inc. builds and donates the world’s largest weathervane to the community of Montague, MI
1985Michigan Department of Natural Resources captures and tranports wild moose from Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada to Marquette County
1986Michigan International Speedway hosts the NASCAR Spark Plug 400
1987Culture Shock is released by Da Yoopers, including the hits “Second Week of Deer Camp” and “Rusty Chevrolet”
1988Lake Superior State University wins their first hockey National Championship under coach Frank Anzalone
1988Karl Bohank begins his career as a TV6 meteorologist
1989Detroit Pistons win NBA Championship
1990The first UP 200 sled dog race occurs takes places in Marquette
1991Northern Michigan University wins hockey National Champsion under coach Rick Comley
1991The Superior Dome (or Yooper Dome), opens as the “world’s largest wooden dome”
1992Keweenaw National Historical Park is established in Calumet
1993First annual Trenary Outhouse Race
1993Baraga Correctional Facility opens
1994Detroit Vipers inaugural hockey season
1995The Detroit newspaper strike begins and lasts for two years
1996Suzanne Kindler writes “Up North” poem
1996“HOCKEYTOWN” displays at Joe Louis Area for the first time, they’d go on to win the Stanley Cup with the Russian Five
1997Oswald’s Bear Ranch opens in Newberry
1997World’s largest piece of float copper discovered in Hancock
1998Noquemanon Ski Marathon is founded
1999Barry Sanders retires
2000Comerica Park opens
2001Escanaba in Da Moonlight debuts
2001Stormy Kromer is purchased by Jacqurt Fabrics and moves to Ironwood
2002Marmot Day in celebration of all marmots celebrated in Owosso
2003Jennifer Granholm is sworn in as Michigan’s first female Governor
2003The word “Yooper” makes its first appearance on Jeopardy
2004President George W. Bush becomes first incumbent to visit the Upper Peninsula since William Taft in 1911
2005Crystal Hayes of Rock becomes first Miss Michigan winner from the Upper Peninsula
2006Half of Miners Castle falls into Lake Superior
2007Sleeper Lakes Fire burns nearly 20,000 acers north of Newberry
2008U.P. Supply Co. is founded in Baraga and Marquette by Bugsy Sailor (oh c’mon, we to put one in here)
2008Marquette High School plays in the second longest record game in high school history, an 8 OT game against Orchard Lake
2009Bill No. 4995 approved by Michigan House, requiring the Upper Peninsula to be on all official state documents
2010Rabbit Island is purchased and made into an artist residency
2011Plaidurday is founded in Lansing
2011President Obama visits Marquette, the third incumbent to visit the Upper Peninsula
2012Detroit tigers win the American League Championship Series
2013Jim Harrison pens Upper Peninsula piece for the New York Times
2014‘Yooper’ added to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary
2015Lake Superior reaches 96% ice cover
2019The Upper Peninsula gets its own Mountain Dew label
2021… let’s make history