Jo-Ann Boepple: May flowers bring Michigan WeekPublished 1:20pm Thursday, April 15, 2010
Each year since 1954, the people of Michigan have observed Michigan Week as a time to embrace, explore and celebrate everything that sets our state apart as an ideal place to live, work and raise a family. This year Michigan week starts May 14.
Michigan has many great cities and villages with lots of history. Detroit is known as the car capital of the world and Alpena is the home of the world’s largest cement plant. Rogers City boasts the world’s largest limestone quarry while Elsie is the home of the world’s largest registered Holstein dairy herd. Colon is home to the world’s largest manufacturer of magic supplies.
Sault Ste. Marie was founded by Father Jacques Marquette in 1668. It is the third-oldest remaining settlement in the United States and the oldest town between the Alleghenies and the Rockies. The city of Novi was named from its designation as Stagecoach Stop No. 6 or No. VI.
The largest village in Michigan is Caro. The Kellogg Co. has made Battle Creek the Cereal Capital of the World. The Kellogg brothers accidentally discovered the process for producing flaked cereal products and sparked the beginning of the dry cereal industry.
Grand Rapids is home to the 24-foot Leonardo Da Vinci horse, called Il Gavallo. It is the largest equestrian bronze sculpture in the Western Hemisphere. Indian River is the home of the largest crucifix in the world. It is called the Cross in the Woods.
The state capitol with its majestic dome was built in Lansing in l879. The oldest county (based on date of incorporation) is Wayne in 1815.
Michigan is has many firsts to its credit. It is first in the production of peat and magnesium compounds and second in gypsum and Iron ore. The Upper Michigan Copper Country is the largest commercial deposit of native copper in the world.
In 1817 the University of Michigan was the first university established by any of the states. Priests founded it. Originally named Cathelepistemian and located in Detroit, the name was changed in 1821. The university moved to Ann Arbor in 1841.
Michigan ranks first in state boat registrations. The Packard Motor Car Co. in Detroit manufactured the first air-conditioned car in 1939. Michigan State University was founded in 1855 as the nation’s first land-grant university and served as the prototype for 69 land-grant institutions later established under the Morrill Act of 1862. It was the first institution of higher learning in the nation to teach scientific agriculture.
Vernor’s ginger ale was created in Detroit and became the first soda pop made in the United States. In 1862, pharmacist James Vernor was trying to create a new beverage when he was called away to serve our country in the Civil War. When he returned, four years later, the drink he had stored in an oak case had acquired a delicious gingery flavor.
Michigan was the first state to provide in its constitution for the establishment of public libraries and it was the first state to guarantee every child the right to tax-paid high school education.
Next week, more of Michigan’s history.