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Episode 46: Michigan: Exploring the Magic of Michigan with Sharon McMahon

podcast Oct 27, 2021

In this episode, Sharon explores the rich ecosystem of the state of Michigan. Known as the “Great Lakes State” Michigan is comprised of two peninsulas that are separated by the Straits of Mackinac, called the Lower Peninsula, and the Upper Peninsula (UP). Known for its fresh water and natural beauty, the state of Michigan is home to many of the nation’s most beautiful parks, animals, coastlines, and lakes. Join Sharon to learn more about how Moose and Wolves cohabitate in Northern Michigan, why the UP belongs to Michigan despite sharing no border, how many ships have sunk in Lake Superior, and more. 

Links to Full Episode:

This Episode Will Teach You:

  • Why is the UP attached to Wisconsin? 
  • How much of the world’s freshwater is in Michigan?
  • Why Erie Canal opened Michigan to the rest of the world
  • How Andrew Jackson split Michigan in two 
  • The history of indigenous groups in Michigan 
  • How much does a full-fledged adult moose weigh? 

3 Biggest Takeaways:

  • Many Americans are left questioning why the Upper Peninsula is a part of Michigan when its only border is shared with Wisconsin? The Upper Peninsula makes up 29% of Michigan’s land mass and contains just 3% of the state population, yet early Michigan residents wanted nothing to do with it. Michigan acquired the Upper Peninsula after a border dispute with Ohio, wherein Michigan claimed that Toledo was their territory but Ohio refused to grant it. This conflict, otherwise known as the Toledo War, resulted in Andrew Jackson, President at the time, stepping in and taking Ohio’s side and in an act of peace, providing Michigan with the Upper Peninsula. At the time, the Upper Peninsula was seen as nothing more than trees and rocks but today it is one of Michigan’s most beautiful destinations. 
  • Isle Royale National Park is one of the least visited National Parks in the country, located in the frigid waters of Lake Superior. Accessible by boat or plane only, there are no residents living on this island but it was once known to be inhabited by indigenous populations as far back as 4500 years ago. Today, moose are a dominant population on the island, with as many as 16,000 recorded in 2016. Moose are particularly destructive animals and in partnership with Michigan Tech University, Isle Royale has played an instrumental role in discovering the delicate relationship between moose and wolves, who keep them from destroying entire ecosystems. Through this study, Michigan Tech and the National Parks Service have now collected the world’s largest catalog of moose bones. 
  • Great Lakes fun facts: 
    • Michigan is home to 20% of all of the freshwater on the entire planet thanks to its Great Lakes affectionately named Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior (HOMES as the locals refer to them). 
    • Each year, the Great Lakes are responsible for hauling over 125 million tons of cargo to and from various ports. 
    • Lake Michigan is the only lake fully within United States territory. Lake Michigan also has over 275 acres of sand dunes. 
    • It is estimated that there are somewhere between 300-500 shipwrecks in Lake Superior due to the dangers of sailing its waters. 
    • Lake Erie has served as a port to the rest of the world for centuries as it is connected to the Hudson River which is connected to the Atlantic Ocean. 

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