Three days ago, on 09-06, it was 906 day here in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A day drenched in Yooper pride because of our uniqueness. A day to celebrate the things we’re proud of and the things we survive. Because there has to be both in order to keep remembering the why of it all as the nights dip to frostiness far too early and the leaves are already about 20% changed to color at the beginning of September. And who wouldn’t rather celebrate than complain? Not this girl!
When we first moved here, because of the remote location of our home, I legitimately thought I’d only eat at restaurants when we would travel. Living in the west-mitten my whole life, driving to a location an hour away was something we saved for a couple times a year. Now, that’s how far I go to get groceries and gas. I imagined we’d be snowed in and be in danger of being buried alive on the regular. I fascinated people by saying one sentence, “Where I’m moving, there is no Walgreens!!!!” No Rite Aid, no CVS, no MEIJER!!! A lot of that is still true, however we did get a Walgreens an hour away within a year or so of moving here. And I did write to Meijer and tell them they were missing the market-boat due to our universities, and by golly, the Meijer trucks came across the bridge when a location was put in Marquette (1 hr. 45 min. from us) about two years ago. You’re welcome, Yoop. When we go to Marquette, we have a Kohl’s, a TARGET!!!, an Ulta, Starbucks, and a handful of fun restaurant options. We call that going to Mankato (Little House fans get it). Load up the wagon, Pa! Ma needs to spend her Kohl’s cash!
But we are literally 135 miles from an Olive Garden, 164 miles from a mall, and the nearest bookstore that is not a little mom and pop is also an almost two hundred mile drive! Pizza delivery is a thing we showed our grandkids on vacation — “Darlins, they bring pizza to your DOOR!!”
We are beautiful and backwoods, what we lack in convenience we make up for in peace and quiet. Our land is dramatic and definitely feels like it was written in a minor key. But there’s a reason those who live here will, in the same sentence, brag about it and try to tell you you’d hate it here. :o)
On 906 day, a Facebook page entitled Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula (check them out!!) published these facts and I just knew you’d find them fascinating. I will source their sources at the bottom of this post.
- Area code 906 was created on March 19th, 1961 as a split from what was area code 616.
- The Upper Peninsula’s mines produced more mineral wealth than the California Gold Rush.
- The Upper Peninsula supplied 90% of America’s copper by the 1860s.
- Actor James Tolkan was born on June 20th, 1931 in Calumet, Michigan. (Back to the Future, Top Gun, Masters of the Universe) He lived in various towns around the Copper Country including Pelkie. He also played football for Hancock.
- Mount Bohemia has the largest vertical drop in the Midwest.
- The Upper Peninsula contains 29% of the land area of Michigan but just 3% of its total population.
- The first known inhabitants of the Upper Peninsula were tribes speaking Algonquian languages. They arrived roughly around A.D. 800.
- In 1910, Houghton County was home to more than 88,000 people. That is the record for the highest population of any county in the Upper Peninsula.
- “Anatomy of a Murder” was shot in several locations in the U.P., including Big Bay, Marquette, Ishpeming, and Michigamme.
- The U.P. has more than 3,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trails.
- The Keweenaw Peninsula averages more snowfall than any other location east of the Mississippi River.
- The Seney Stretch is the longest curveless section of highway in Michigan and longest east of the Mississippi River.
- Copper Harbor is the farthest town from an interstate highway in the continental United States with a distance of 251 miles.
- Finlandia University in Hancock is the only college in America with Finnish roots.
- The Pine Mountain Ski Jump is one of the highest man-made ski jumps in the world.
- 84% of the Upper Peninsula is covered by forest.
- Lake Superior is the size of South Carolina.
- Isle Royale National Park is the least-visited national park in the country.
- The U.P. was referred to as a “sterile region on the shores of Lake Superior destined by soil and climate to remain forever a wilderness” by the U.S. Congress in 1837.
- The Portage Lift Bridge in Houghton/Hancock is the world’s heaviest and widest double-decked vertical lift bridge. Its center span lifts to provide about 100 feet of clearance for ships.
- Mount Arvon, elevation 1,979 feet, located in L’Anse Township, Baraga County, is the highest natural point in the U.S. state of Michigan.
- Houghton is the birthplace of professional hockey.
- Baraga County was named after Bishop Frederic Baraga, consecrated as the Upper Peninsula’s first Bishop on November 1, 1853.
- The “humongous fungus” is located in Crystal Falls, Michigan. It is a fungus that is estimated to be 2500 years old and weigh over 800,000 pounds.
- The Upper Peninsula is home to the highest concentration of Finns outside of Europe.
- Sault Ste. Marie, founded in 1668 by French missionaries, is the oldest city in Michigan.
- George Gipp, the “Gipper”, born in Laurium, was the first All-American player of the Notre Dame football program.
- The U.P. has 96 lighthouses.
- The pasty (pronounced “pass-tee”), is a kind of meat turnover that is a regional delicacy.
- The Soo Locks is the largest waterway traffic system in the world.
- The world’s largest specimen of float copper was discovered in 1997 on the Quincy Mine claims near Hancock, Northern Michigan by the two landholders when they were searching their property with a metal detector. The specimen was approximately 14 feet long and 12 feet wide, with thickness up to 17 inches.
- There are over 200 waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
So, there ya have it! I have one more place up here that I want to tell you about before I get to my 91st little thing. I think it will surprise you! But I hope you enjoyed these little factoids. I’d love to know if you think you could ever stand to live so remotely. During these tumultuous days, we have heard folks say they understand the draw of getting *lost* in this faraway wilderness. But in the day-to-day, does it just sound impossible, or is there part of you that would love to live on lots of acres with lots of wildlife and very few folks nearby?
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Upper Peninsula Supply Co