Michigan Essay, Research Paper

State History Early Exploration

When Europeans arrived, there were about 15,000 Indians. Most of them were of the Algonquian language group. About 1/5 of them lived in the Upper Peninsula and the rest in the lower peninsula. Around 1620, Rtienne Brule of France explored the Upper Peninsula. He was probably the first explorer to visit the Michigan region. Brule was sent there by Governor Samuel de Champlain of Quebec, New France (Canada). In 1634, Governor Champlain sent another explorer, Jean Nicolet, to the Michigan region to find a route to the Pacific Ocean. Father Rene Menard, a Jesuit Missionary, established a mission in Keweenaw Bay. In 1668, Father Jacques Marquette founded Michigan’s first permanent settlement in Sault St. Marie.

Early U.S. Exploration

During the late 1600’s, many Frenchmen explored and mapped out much of the region. By 1700, the French had built many forts, missions, and trading posts in several places. Antoine de Lamothe Cadillac founded Fort Pontchartrain, in 1701, which later became Detroit.

This region made little progress under the French rule. Only a few settlers established farms in the region, mainly along the Detroit River. Some of the French interests were to convert the Indians to Christianity and to develop a profitable fur trade.

In 1787, the Michigan region became part of the Northwest Territory. In 1800, Congress created the Indiana Territory which included part of Michigan. By 1803, the Michigan region was part of the Indiana Territory. In 1805, Congress established the territory of Michigan. The Territory included the entire lower peninsula and part of the upper peninsula.

During the War of 1812, the British gained control of Detroit and Fort Mackinac. America regained Detroit in 1813. The British returned Fort Mackinac in 1815, after the war ended.

The Erie canal was finished in 1825. This canal linked the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean, providing a route between the eastern states and the western territories. Once it was completed, many settlers came to Michigan especially from New York and New England.


In 1835, a convention proposed a state constitution. The people approved the Constitution on Oct. 5, 1835, and elected 23 year-old Stevens T. Mason as their first state governor. Michigan would have become a state, but Congress delayed admitting Michigan to the Union because the dispute between Michigan and Iowa.

Michigan became a state when it joined the union on January 26, 1837. The western upper peninsula became a great source for minerals. In 1845, iron-ore mining began near Negaunee. Large numbers of miners came to Upper Michigan. The miners needed some way to ship there iron-ore along the Great Lakes. This need was one of the chief reasons the Soo Canal was constructed.

During the Mid 1800’s, lumbering became an important industry in Michigan. The construction of sawmills aided in the rapid development of manufacturing in the state. Michigan lumber was used in many building projects in the Midwest. The lumber also helped develop the furniture industry. By 1870, Michigan led the nation with lumber production.

Michigan’s population doubled between 1870 and 1900. Agriculture developed as the settlers rushed in and cleared the land. Railroads and steamship lines helped promote Michigan’s resorts, and the state tourism began to develop.

Ransom E. Olds founded the Olds Motor Works in Detroit in 1899. By 1901, the factory was mass producing the Oldsmobile. Henry Ford organized the Ford Motor Company in Detroit in 1903. Detroit soon became the center of the nations automobile manufacturing. This new industry greatly increased Michigan’s population and its prosperity. In 1914, Henry Ford announced that he would that the Ford Company would share its profits with its workers.

Once the United States entered World War I in 1917, Michigan factories built trucks, armored vehicles, and other military vehicles. The improvement of Michigan’s highways increased the amount of tourism in the state. By 1920, tourism had become the leading source of income in the state.

State Geography

State Geopographic and Geographic Features

The Superior Upland is located in the western the western half of the Upper Peninsula. Much of the region is rugged, rising from 600 ft. to 1980 ft. above sea level. Michigan’s highest hills are located in this region. The Porcupine Mountains found in the Superior Upland, rising over 1,000 ft. from the shores of Lake Superior. Mt. Curnwood, the highest point in the state, 1980 ft. above sea level. The hills are covered with forests. The Superior Upland contains some of the richest iron and copper deposits.

The Great Lakes Plains stretch along the Great Lakes from Ohio to Wisconsin. This covers the eastern Upper Peninsula, and the entire Lower Peninsula. In the Upper Peninsula, some parts are covered with swamps. Parts of it are unsuitable for farming because of the short growing season and poor soils. The Great Lakes Plains are part of a larger set of plains in the Midwest called the Interior Plains.

State Climate, vegetation

Michigan has a moist climate with cold winters and warm summers in the South and cooler summers in the North. Winds brought on by the Great Lakes cause cloudiness. About 65% of the days are cloudy.

The Lower Peninsula is typically warmer than the Upper Peninsula. Average temperatures in January range from 15*F in the Western Upper Peninsula 26*F in the Southern Lower Peninsula. July temperatures are pretty much the same in the Upper and Lower peninsula. Michigan’s record low temperature was -51*F, which happened in Vanderbilt on February 9, 1934. The record high was 112*F, recorded on July 13, 1936.

Michigan’s yearly precipitation ranges from 26 to 36 in. Average snowfall ranges from less than 40 in. In the Lower Peninsula to 160 in. in the North. The state’s record snowfall 277 in . Houghton occurred in 1949-50.


Major Businesses and Industries

Transportation equipment is Michigan’s leading type of manufactured product. This industry alone produces around 40% of the states gross income. The transportation equipment provides jobs for around 25% of the people in the state. Michigan is the leading manufacturer of automobiles in the nation. Detroit is called the Automobile Capital of the World.

The production of machinery is the second most valuable type of manufacturing activity. Most of the state’s machinery is produced in the Detroit area. Machine parts are the leading part made in this industry.

Fabricated metal products are next in value. Detroit produces about half of the total fabricated metal. Grand Rapids and Warren are also important producers of this type of metal. Some examples are: cutlery, hand tools, hardware and other products made from metal.

Chemicals are fourth ranked in Michigan’s industry. Pharmaceuticals are the most important type of chemical product produced in Michigan. Some other important chemicals include paint, resins, and soaps.

Food production ranks fifth. Michigan is one of the top food producing states. Battle Creek, is called the Cereal Bowl of America, produces more breakfast cereal than any other city in the world. Fremont has the largest baby food plant in the United States.

Most of the state’s mining income comes from Natural gas, iron ore, and petroleum. The northern part of the Lower Peninsula has the largest natural gas fields in Michigan. Petroleum is pumped to urban areas, where it is used to heat buildings. Michigan ranks second in the nation in the production of iron ore. Only Minnesota produces more than Michigan. Michigan produces about 1/4 of the nations iron ore.


Farmland covers about a third of Michigan’s land area. Michigan has approximately 51,000 farms. Crops provide about 60% of the total farm income. The states leading field crops are: soybeans, corn, hay, wheat, dry beans, sugar beets, and potatoes.

The land along Lake Michigan is one of the most productive fruit-growing areas in North America. Michigan is ranked among the leading states in raising apples, blueberries, cantaloupes, cherries, grapes, peaches, plums, pears, and strawberries. Most of the grapes are grown in the southwest part of the state. Traverse City is very famous for its cherries.

Most of Michigan’s vegetable farming is found in the Southern half of the Lower Peninsula. Important crops include: asparagus, bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, snap beans, sweet corn, and tomatoes.

Major Cities

Description of Them

Detroit is the largest city in Michigan and seventh largest in the United States. Other large cities, are Grand Rapids, Warren, Flint, Lansing, Sterling Heights, Ann Arbor, Livonia, Dearborn, Westland, Kalamazoo, and Marquette.

What makes Them Special

Lansing is the Capital of Michigan. It is the 5th largest city in Michigan. Ann Arbor is where the University of Michigan is located. Grand Rapids is the 2nd largest city in Michigan. Marquette is the largest city in the Upper Peninsula, with 22,000 people.


Things to do

Michigan has year round activities for people who enjoy sports and the outdoors. There are thousands of lakes and streams in Michigan for all those who like water skiing, fishing, swimmers, and boaters. Many forests and thick woods attract campers and hunters. During winter, you can ski, ice skate, toboggan, iceboat racing, and ice fishing.

Things to see

The Detroit Institute of Arts is a neat place. It has hundreds of paintings and sculptures. There also many museums you can visit to learn more about Michigan and its founding fathers. Michigan has many beautiful waterfalls and spectacular dunes. One of the most popular events in Holland is the week long Tulip Festival. The people dress in traditional Dutch outfits. The festival includes a ceremonial street cleaning, wearing of wooden shoes, and parades.

You can also visit the University of Michigan, and the Michigan State University.


I think Michigan is a great state to visit. There is so much to see, and so much to do. Mackinaw City is a great place to visit. Mackinaw Island is really neat too. No cars are allowed on the Island so everyone rides bicycles.

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