Michigan and the Great Lakes

January 8, 2015
Wisconsin, Michigan

Click for the latest Lansing weather forecast.Cherry Orchard, Leelanau County

The Wolverine State

It has been generally accepted that Michigan was nicknamed "The Wolverine State" for the abundance of wolverines that once roamed the peninsula. However, according to the Michigan Historical Center, wolverines were very rare in Michigan if they were present at all. It's not clear how this nickname originated, but there are two theories.

Avalon Beach, Monroe

The Great Lake State

or "The Great Lakes State", or "The Lakes State" nicknames have been applied to Michigan for many years. They refer to the fact that Michigan shores meet four of the five Great Lakes and to the number of inland lakes in the state. The four Great Lakes that border Michigan are Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Lake Erie. There are also more than 11, 000 inland lakes in Michigan and, according to the Michigan Historical Center, one is never more than six miles from an inland lake or more than 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes.

Water Wonderland

This promotional nickname again references the water resources of the state of Michigan. "Water Wonderland" appeared on Michigan license plates beginning in 1954. It was modified to "Water-Winter Wonderland" in 1965. This modified legend appeared on Michigan license plates from 1965 through 1967.

Lady of the Lake

With over 40, 000 square miles of water surface within its boundaries, Michigan's history has been "saturated" with the association. "Lady of the Lake" is another nickname referencing the influence of water in the state. It is thought that this nickname may have been taken from Sir Walter Scott's poem, "The Lady of the Lake."

The Auto State

This nickname draws attention to the automobile manufacturing that has played such an important role in the history of the state.

People who live in Michigan or who come from Michigan are called Michiganians, Michiganders or Michiganites.

United States Mint Image

The Michigan quarter is the first of 2004, and the 26th in the United States Mint's 50 State Quarters® Program. On January 26, 1837, Michigan became the 26th state to be admitted into the Union. The Michigan quarter depicts the outline of the State and the Great Lakes system. The quarter is inscribed "Great Lakes State."

As indicated by the State's nickname, much of Michigan's history is tied to the Great Lakes - Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario. These are five of the world's largest lakes that, together, encompass more than 38, 000 square miles and form the largest body of fresh water in the world. Michigan is the only State that borders four of the five Great Lakes, more than any other state. Standing anywhere in the State, a person is within 85 miles of one of the Great Lakes. To assist in navigating, Michigan has 116 lighthouses and navigational lights.

On November 28, 2001, Governor John Engler established the 25-member Michigan Quarter Commission. The Commission members consisted of individuals from the fields of education, art, history, and numismatics. The Commission solicited recommendations for design concepts from the residents of the State and received over 4, 300 suggestions. The Commission narrowed the entries down to five candidate concepts that were approved by Governor Engler, and forwarded them to the United States Mint on May 10, 2002. Other design concepts considered included "Michigan State Outline, with Great Lakes and State Icons, " "Michigan State Outline, with Great Lakes and the Mackinac Bridge, " "Michigan State Outline, with the Mackinac Bridge and Automobile, " and "Michigan State Outline, with Great Lakes and Automobile."

In September 2003, following a consultation with the Michigan Quarter Commission, Governor Jennifer Granholm selected the Great Lakes design.


The State of Michigan: Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, History of the National Guard. 4 October 2009
The State of Michigan: The Michigan Historical Center, Shankle, George Earlie. . Irvine, Calif.: Reprint Services Corp, Revised edition, 1971.
Shearer, Benjamin F. and Barbara S. . Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 3 Sub edition, 2001.

Additional Information

Elizabeth M. Johnson

Michigan (From Sea to Shining Sea), Elizabeth M. Johnson. 80 pages. Publisher: Children's Press(CT) (March 2002) Reading level: Grades 3-5. Presents information about Michigan's people, geography, history, landmarks, natural resources, government, state capitol, towns and cities, and more.

Rachel Barenblat

Michigan (World Almanac Library of the States), by Rachel Barenblat. 48 pages. Gareth Stevens Publishing (January 1, 2002) Reading level: Grades 4-6. Filled with the most up-to-date information, including the latest Census results. Full-color photos bring to life the story of Michigan. In addition to an in-depth factual profile of Michigan in the form of a state Almanac, this book offers fascinating and lively discussions of the state's history, people, geography, government, economy, culture, and lifestyles. A section on Notable People, a calendar of events, and enough primary source documents, time lines, maps, and other tools to make this unquestionably the best young adult reference material on the USA available anywhere.

Northern Michigan
Ronald Jolly

Northern Michigan Almanac, by Ronald Jolly. 606 pages. Publisher: University of Michigan Press/Petoskey (July 8, 2005) The almanac centers around Traverse City and includes areas around Petoskey, Frankfort, Charlevoix, Ludington, and the major islands in Lakes Huron and Michigan. Author Ron Jolly brings interesting, little-known facts about geography, weather, tourism, agriculture, ecology, business, transportation, government, and more to light-for example, which movies were made in the region, where the ghost towns are, and why fruit in Michigan is such a big business.

West Michigan
Edward Hoogterp
The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes
The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes
clip 56785409: Michigan, Chicago, the Great Lakes and
clip 56785409: Michigan, Chicago, the Great Lakes and ...
Great Lake Michigan (and other places surrounding the
Great Lake Michigan (and other places surrounding the ...
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