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In the Catbird Seat/Joe Kirkish

All about the state of Michigan

February 16, 2012
The Daily Mining Gazette

Now that the Winter Carnival is history for this year and interesting bits of information about our great state have been molded in ice and snow, it might be an appropriate time to take a more detailed look at this state that bears the proud dictum: "Si queries peninsulam amoenam circumspice" (if you seek a pleasing peninsula, look about you!):

Some facts are fairly well known - that our name came from the indigenous Indians, loosely meaning "large waters," since it is bounded by four of the five Great Lakes with the longest freshwater coastline. And that Detroit, not Lansing, was our first capitol.

But did you know that we have more lighthouses than any other U.S. state, with one located on Detroit's Belle Isle as the only one to be made of marble? Or that the first soda pop manufactured in the U.S. (Vernor's ginger ale) was created by accident in Detroit, in 1866? And that the home offices of Life Savers Candy, Beech-Nut Gum and Squirt soft drinks came from Holland, Mich.?

And did you know that Michigan produces more cherries than any other U.S. state? Or that Steven T. Mason, in 1834, at the age of 22, became the youngest state governor in American history? Or that our J.W. Westcott II is recorded as the only boat in the world with a floating post office, to deliver mail to ships while they are still under way? Or that there are over 16,500 lakes and ponds in Michigan?

And did you know that Detroit, in 1879, was the first place in the nation to be assigned phone numbers? Or that Sault Ste. Marie, founded by Fr. Jacques Marquette in 1668, is the third oldest remaining settlement in the U.S.? And that the nation's largest indoor/outdoor museum complex is Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village?

And did you know that Hagley's Corner was the original name of Bloomfield Hills? And Hog's Hollow was the original name for Utica? And during the lumber boom, the row of saloons that lined Water Street in Bay City was known as "Hell's Half Mile"?

Recent information: Since on Jan. 26, 1837, President Andrew Jackson signed a bill that admitted the Michigan Territory into state status, our present Governor Snyder officially declared the day as Michigan Statehood Day - with organizations around the state celebrating in a variety of ways, and that included a grand celebration held at the Lansing historical museum with a full day of festivities provided by costumed interpreters of history, craft demonstrations, and musical performances - and with the first 100 people also receiving a free slice of birthday cake.

Old timers might recall:

1908 - Wm.C.Durant organized several independent automobile plants into what was to become General Motors.

1911 - The world's first painted highway center lines were featured in Trenton.

1910 to 1920 - Hamtramck grew from 35,600 to 45,600 residents (most of Polish descent), leading the nation in growth for that period.

1915 - The first annual license fee was charged for autos - $.50. Also that same year, the first traffic light came into being, at the intersection of Woodward & Grand avenues.

1920 - WWJ-AM became the first commercial radio station in the US.

- 1920s - Detroit's Fisher Building, Cadillac Place and Guardian Building became national historic landmarks.

1930s - With the influx of world immigrants, more than 30 languages were used in public schools.

1936 - In the Escanaba area, 100,000 sq. ft. of birds-eye maple was harvested and processed for use in the luxury liner Queen Mary.

1942 - The Davison Freeway was completed in Detroit, becoming the world's first urban freeway.

1954 - Detroit also opened the country's first shopping mall (Northland), with great doubts as to whether it would catch on or flop.

Note: Learn how to make Finnish breads -?Saturday, noon to 2 p.m. - call Keweenaw Co-op for info at 482-2030.

There will be a CHIA?February potluck at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Community Building. So, think gumbo, crawfish or any Yooper food.

Rotten Tomatoes critical averages: "Star Wars I," B-; "Safe House," C+; "Journey 2: Mysterious Island," C; "The Vow," D



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