Set between four of the Great Lakes, Michigan is the only state divided into two pieces; the Upper and Lower Peninsulas are connected by the five-mile Mackinac Bridge. The two parts could not be more different. The Upper Peninsula is the equivalent of the great north woods, while the Lower Peninsula is industrial. The reason for that came out of the state’s history. When French explorers arrived, there were more than 100,000 Native Americans living along the lake shores. Champlain is thought to have visited as early as 1612. He was followed by Jesuit missionaries. The British arrived in 1760, and in 1783, Michigan became a province of Upper Canada, only to be brought under American control in 1787, as a part of the Indiana Territory. 1805 saw the state become part of the Michigan Territory, which in 1812, reverted to the British. A survey of the land in 1820, deemed most of the state unfit for cultivation, so the land could not be used to reward soldiers for their service. Finally, in 1833, Michigan became a state, and the “uncultivable” land was transformed into the industrial powerhouse. Mining began in earnest in the Upper Peninsula and many of the names known worldwide in the automobile industry started producing cars. Many became household names. The Dodge brothers experimented with new car designs. Ransom Olds began promoting the “new-fangled” machines. Henry Ford invented the assembly line which cut production time for the Model T from 12 days to 93 minutes. Frenchman Chevrolet teamed up with William Durant to create General Motors, later adding Olds’ Oldsmobile to the mix and Dr. John Kellogg started growing “Cereal City.”  Today, Woodward Avenue, the traditional automobile row is an All American Road and millions upon millions of people drive, use, and eat the products of Michigan.

Michigan Scenic Byways