Welcome to the Upper Peninsula Facts Page. This page has been created for those people who are completely unfamiliar about the U.P. and would like to learn more about our peninsula. It may be especially helpful to read over this page before making a journey north above the Mackinac Bridge - just to learn some of the basics about the U.P. Even Yoopers at home may find some interesting facts about the U.P. on this page that they never even knew about! Just take your time reading the interesting information we have about the land Yoopers call home, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan!
Learn interesting trivia about Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
First of all, a little information about the name of the Upper Peninsula. The state of Michigan is comprised of two peninsulas, an upper and a lower peninsula. We are located in the Upper Peninsula. Residents of the Upper Peninsula call this land the U.P. (short for Upper Peninsula). Other names commonly referred to this area of the state is Northern Michigan, the U.P. of Michigan and Upper Michigan.
The Upper Peninsula is located in the
Northern 1/3rd of Michigan. The state of Michigan has roughly a population of
over 9 million, yet the U.P. only has 300,000 residents. The U.P. also
comprises 1/3rd of the total land mass of the state of Michigan.
A "Peninsula" is an area of land in which three of its sides are bordered by water. The U.P. is surrounded by Lake Superior to the north, Lake Michigan to the South, and Lake Huron to the east. The U.P. also is bordered to the west by our neighboring state of Wisconsin.
Upper Peninsula residents are a hardy-breed of folk, who can endure 5 or more months of winter during a given year. If you hate the snow and the cold, then the U.P. is not the place for you. Residents of the U.P. are commonly referred to as "Yoopers." Since the Upper and Lower Peninsula's are connected together by the Mackinac Bridge at the Straits of Mackinac, Lower Peninsula residents are referred to as "trolls," but truly, nothing bad is meant by this.
The Upper Peninsula's largest city is Marquette, located in the north central U.P. The population of Marquette is around 20,000 people. A few big employers reside in this city, including Marquette General Hospital as well as Northern Michigan University. The city also has a top-notch school system and has many fun and exciting things to do on an average day. The next largest cities in the U.P. are Sault Ste. Marie in the eastern U.P., Houghton in the western U.P., and Escanaba in the south central U.P.
The U.P. is home to a rich copper and iron ore mining heritage. Two large iron ore mines are located in central Marquette county, named the Empire and Tilden Mines, managed by Cleveland Cliffs Incorporated. Several million tons of iron ore pellets are made at these two mines and the pellets are shipped out of Marquette and Escanaba via large ore docks, onto large ore vessels that travel the Great Lakes. The pellets make their way to large steel factories and are made into products. Copper Mining in the U.P. has ended. A rich Copper Mining history remains in the Copper Country, where many mines were once located. Believe it or not, the town of Calumet once had 90,000
people living there because of the
huge copper boom, and was once considered a candidate to be the Michigan state
The Upper Peninsula is home to only one Interstate highway. I-75 runs from North to South, beginning at Sault Ste. Marie and ending at St. Ignace and traveling across the Mackinac Bridge. The U.P. has two major east-west trunk lines: US 2 and M-28. Yet neither of these highways are four-lane freeways. The only freeways or expressways on these two highways are near major population centers. No other highways in the U.P. are considered to be freeways or expressways.
The Upper Peninsula has some of the most beautiful natural territory in the United States. The U.P. is home to the Hiawatha and Ottawa National Forests. There are camping, hiking, canoeing, fishing, and many other activities available while visiting the national forests. The Ottawa National Forest is headquartered in Watersmeet, MI while the Hiawatha National Forest is headquartered in Munising. There are also over 15 state parks located across the U.P. territory. The most popular state parks include the Tahquamenon, Mackinac Island, Laughing Whitefish, Porcupine Mountains, and Van Riper State Parks.
There are three national parks located peninsula wide. The Isle Royale National Park is located in far Northwest Lake Superior. An island ferry travels to the park everyday during summer months. It is a very isolated and heavily forested island, with a variety of wildlife, such as bear, wolves, and moose. The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is located in east-central Upper Michigan along the Lake Superior shoreline. The park stretches from Munising to Grand Marais in Alger County. The park is named for the beautiful sandstone rock cliffs that are exposed along the lakeshore. Pictured Rocks is also known as being home to America's first national lakeshore. Such amazing attractions within the parks boundaries include Miners Castle, Munising Falls, Miners Beach, and Sand Point. Last but not least, one of the newest National parks is the Keweenaw National Historical Park. The park has been developed to commemorate the rich copper mining history in the Keweenaw Peninsula. The Peninsula was home to the only place in the world where commercially abundant quantities of elemental copper occurred. The park is headquartered in Calumet, MI.
Believe it or not, the U.P. also has over 100 waterfalls within its boundaries. There are many that are not on the state map, so a handy U.P. waterfalls manual may be needed to get to them all. Most of them are small falls, but the larger falls are the most impressive. Some of the larger falls include the Tahquamenon, Laughing Whitefish, Munising, and Wagner. The U.P. has many more falls than the Lower Peninsula, so if it's waterfall-hunting you wish to do, then the Upper Peninsula is the place to be.
Another famous landmark in the Upper Peninsula is the Soo Locks near Sault Ste. Marie. The Soo Locks were built to accommodate large shipping vessels to travel the other Great Lakes while leaving or entering Lake Superior safely. The St. Mary's River is the only body of water that connects Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes. The locks are a much easier bypass for ships, especially when the other route is impassible because of large river rapids. Before the locks were constructed, boats had to be diverted around river rapids, and this meant carrying boats around the rapids. For the larger boats, cargo had to be taken off the one ship sitting below the rapids, and then carried to another boat sitting above the rapids in Lake
Superior. The construction project started in 1853, and a lock connecting both sides was completed. Since then, other locks have been built to help alleviate demand. Four locks exist in the Soo, with two of the larger locks getting the most use. A third has been deemed obsolete and is no longer in use while the fourth only gets used to accommodate smaller vessels. A new construction project is being planned to restore locks that are old and outdated.