Upper Peninsula Wiki

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is the northern of the two major land masses that make up the U.S. state of Michigan. It is commonly referred to as the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) and Upper Michigan. It is also known colloquially as the land "above the Bridge" linking the two peninsulas. The peninsula is bounded on the north by Lake Superior, on the east by the St. Marys River, on the southeast by Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and on the southwest by Wisconsin.

Map of the Upper Peninsula.

The Upper Peninsula contains 29% of the land area of Michigan but just 3% of its total population. Residents are frequently called Yoopers (derived from "U.P.-ers") and have a strong regional identity. Large numbers of French Canadian, Finnish, Swedish, Cornish, and Italian immigrants came to the Upper Peninsula, especially the Keweenaw Peninsula, to work in the area's mines and lumber industry. The peninsula includes the only counties in the United States where a plurality of residents claim Finnish ancestry.[1]

Ordered by size, the peninsula's largest cities are Marquette, Sault Ste. Marie, Escanaba, Menominee, Houghton, and Iron Mountain. The land and climate are not very suitable for agriculture because of the long harsh winters. The economy has been based on logging, mining, and tourism. Most mines have closed since the "golden age" from 1890 to 1920. The land is heavily forested and logging remains a major industry[citation needed].


The first known inhabitants of the Upper Peninsula were tribes speaking Algonquian languages. They arrived roughly around A.D. 800 and subsisted chiefly from fishing. Early tribes included the Menominee, Nocquet, and the Mishinimaki. Étienne Brûlé of France was probably the first European to visit the peninsula, crossing the St. Marys River around 1620 in search of a route to the Far East.[2] French colonists laid claim to the land in the 17th century, establishing missions and fur trading posts such as Sault Ste. Marie and St. Ignace. Following the end of the French and Indian War (part of the Seven Years' War) in 1763, the territory was ceded to Great Britain. Sault Ste Marie, Michigan is the oldest European settlement in Michigan and the site of Native American settlements for centuries.

American Indian tribes formerly allied with the French were dissatisfied with the British occupation, which brought new territorial policies. Whereas the French cultivated alliances among the Indians, the British postwar approach was to treat the tribes as conquered peoples. In 1763, tribes united in Pontiac's Rebellion to try to drive the British from the area. American Indians captured Fort Michilimackinac, near present-day Mackinaw City, Michigan, then the principal fort of the British in the Michilimackinac region, as well as others and killed hundreds of British. In 1764, they began negotiations with the British which resulted in temporary peace and changes in objectionable British policies.

Although the Upper Peninsula nominally became United States territory with the 1783 Treaty of Paris, the British did not give up control until 1797 under terms of the Jay Treaty. As an American territory, the Upper Peninsula was still dominated by the fur trade. John Jacob Astor founded the American Fur Company on Mackinac Island in 1808; however, the industry began to decline in the 1830s as beaver and other game were overhunted.[3]

When the Michigan Territory was first established in 1805, it included only the Lower Peninsula and the eastern portion of the Upper Peninsula. In 1819, the territory was expanded to include the remainder of the Upper Peninsula, all of Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota (previously included in the Indiana and Illinois Territories). When Michigan was preparing for statehood in the 1830s, the boundaries proposed corresponded to the original territorial boundaries, with some proposals even leaving the Upper Peninsula out entirely. Meanwhile, the territory was involved in a border dispute with the state of Ohio in a conflict known as the Toledo War.

The people of Michigan approved a constitution in May 1835 and elected state officials in late autumn 1835. Although the state government was not yet recognized by the United States Congress, the territorial government effectively ceased to exist. A constitutional convention of the state legislature refused a compromise to accept the full Upper Peninsula in exchange for ceding the Toledo Strip to Ohio. A second convention, hastily convened by Governor Stevens Thomson Mason, consisting primarily of Mason supporters, agreed in December 1836 to accept the U.P. in exchange for the Toledo Strip.

In January 1837, the U.S. Congress admitted Michigan as a state of the Union. At the time, Michigan was considered the losing party in the compromise. The land in the Upper Peninsula was described in a federal report as a "sterile region on the shores of Lake Superior destined by soil and climate to remain forever a wilderness."[2]

This belief changed when rich mineral deposits (primarily copper and iron) were discovered in the 1840s. The Upper Peninsula's mines produced more mineral wealth than the California Gold Rush, especially after shipping was improved by the opening of the Soo Locks in 1855 and docks in Marquette in 1859. The Upper Peninsula supplied 90% of America's copper by the 1860s. It was the largest supplier of iron ore by the 1890s, and production continued to a peak in the 1920s, but sharply declined shortly afterward. The last copper mine closed in 1995, although the majority of mines had closed decades before. Some iron mining continues near Marquette.[2]

Thousands of Americans and immigrants moved to the area during the mining boom, prompting the federal government to create Fort Wilkins near Copper Harbor to maintain order. The first wave were the Cornish from England, with centuries of mining experience; followed by Irish, Germans, and French Canadians. During the 1890s, Finnish immigrants began settling there in large numbers, forming the population plurality in the North-Western half of the peninsula. In the early 20th century, 75% of the population was foreign-born.[3]

From 1861 to 1865, 90,000 Michigan men fought in the American Civil War, including 1,209 from the Upper Peninsula. Houghton County contributed 460 soldiers, while Marquette County, Michigan sent 265.[4]


The Upper Peninsula contains 16,377 square miles (42,420 km2),[5] about 29 percent of the land area of the state (exclusive of territorial waters, which constitute about 40% of Michigan's total jurisdictional area). The maximum east–west distance in the Upper Peninsula is about 320 miles (510 km), and the maximum north–south distance is about 125 miles (201 km). It is bounded on the north by Lake Superior, on the east by St. Mary's River, on the south by Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and on the west by Wisconsin and (counting the water border on Lake Superior) by Minnesota. It has about 1,700 miles (2,700 km) of continuous shoreline with the Great Lakes. There are about 4,300 inland lakes, the largest of which is Lake Gogebic, and 12,000 miles (19,000 km) of streams.[6]

The peninsula is divided between the flat, swampy areas in the east, part of the Great Lakes Plain, and the steeper, more rugged western half, called the Superior Upland, part of the Canadian Shield.[7] The rock in the western portion is the result of volcanic eruptions and is estimated to be at least 3.5 billion years old (much older than the eastern portion) and contains the region's ore resources. Banded-iron formations were deposited 2,000 million years ago; this is the Marquette Range Supergroup. A considerable amount of bedrock is visible. Mount Arvon, the highest point in Michigan, is found in the region, as well as the Porcupine and Huron mountains. All of the higher areas are the remnants of ancient peaks, worn down over millions of years by erosion and glaciers.[8]

The Keweenaw Peninsula is the northernmost part of the peninsula. It projects into Lake Superior and was the site of the first copper boom in the United States, part of a larger region of the peninsula called the Copper Country.[9] Copper Island is its northernmost section.

About one third of the peninsula is government-owned recreational forest land today, including the Ottawa National Forest and Hiawatha National Forest. Although heavily logged in the 19th century, the majority of the land was forested with mature trees by the 1970s.[2]


The Upper Peninsula contains a large variety of wildlife. Some of the mammals found in the U.P. include shrews, moles, mice, white tailed deer, moose, black bears, cougar, gray and red foxes, wolves, river otters, martens, fishers, muskrats, bobcats, coyotes, snowshoe hares, cotton-tail rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons, opossum and bats. There is a large variety of birds, including hawks, osprey, gulls, hummingbirds, chickadees, robins, woodpeckers, warblers, and bald eagles. In terms of reptiles and amphibians, the U.P. has common garter snakes, red bellied snakes, pine snakes, northern water snakes, brown snakes, eastern garter snakes, eastern fox snakes, eastern ribbon back snakes, green snakes, northern ringneck snakes, Eastern Milk Snakes (Mackinac and Marquette counties) and Eastern Hognose snakes (Menominee County only), plus snapping turtles, wood turtles, and painted turtles (the state reptile), green frogs, bullfrogs, northern leopard frogs, and salamanders. Lakes and rivers contain many fish like walleye, muskie, northern pike, trout, salmon, bullhead catfish, and bass. Invasive species like the alewife and sea lamprey can be found in the Great Lakes. The U.P. also contains many shellfish, such as clams, aquatic snails, and crayfish. The American Bird Conservancy and the National Audubon Society have designated several locations as internationally Important Bird Areas.[citation needed]

There is significant controversy over the presence of Eastern Cougars in the U.P.[10] Historically, the last of the species, or subspecies, was extirpated near Newberry in 1906, although there have been sightings of the creatures over the years since.[11][12] These reports increased in number over the first decade of the 21st century. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) formed a four-person team to investigate sightings in the state. The biologists with the DNRE currently do not believe that there is a breeding population anywhere in the state, rather that the sighted animals are visitors to the state.[13] As late as January 2007, the DNRE's official position was that no cougars lived in Michigan.[14] Several residents in the state disagree with both current and previous positions on the part of the DNRE.[14][15] Researchers at Central Michigan University and the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy in 2006 published the findings of a study using DNA analysis of fecal samples taken in the Upper and Lower peninsulas that showed the presence of cougars at the time.[16] These results were disputed in a second journal article in 2007 by other researchers from Eastern Michigan University and the U.S. Forest Service.[17] A citizen's group, the Michigan Citizens for Cougar Recognition (MCCR), independently tracked sightings and in 2009 listed Delta County as the location with the greatest number of reports in the state.[18] The DNRE verified five sets of tracks and two trail camera photos in Delta, Chippewa, Marquette, and Menominee counties since 2008.[19] DNRE officials acknowledge that there are cougars in the UP, but not elsewhere in the state. Critics of the DNRE's position on the species, including the founder of the MCCR, say that the department is attempting to "avoid paying for a cougar management program".[15]

There are also many invasive species that are primarily brought in the ballast water of foreign ships, usually from the ocean bordering Northeastern Asia. This water is dumped directly into the Great Lakes, depositing a variety of fresh and salt water fish and invertebrates, most notably the zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha. There are also many plant species that have been transported to the Great Lakes, including Purple Loosestrife Lythrum salicaria[20] and Phragmites australis, both of which are considered to be a threat to native hydrophyte wetland plants.[21][22]

The Emerald ash borer was first reported in the U.P. at Brimley State Park,[23] and is considered to be a serious ecological threat to the habitat and economy.


The Upper Peninsula has a humid continental climate (Dfb in the Köppen climate classification system). The Great Lakes have a great effect on most of the peninsula. Winters tend to be long, cold, and snowy for most of the peninsula, and because of its northern latitude, the daylight hours are short— around 8 hours between sunrise and sunset in the winter. Lake Superior has the greatest effect on the area, especially the northern and western parts. Lake-effect snow causes many areas to get in excess of 100–250 inches (250–640 cm) of snow per year—especially in the Keweenaw Peninsula and Gogebic County, and to a lesser extent Baraga, Marquette and Alger counties, making the western U.P. a prominent part of the midwestern snow belt.

Records of 390 inches (990 cm) of snow or more have been set in many communities in this area.[24] The Keweenaw Peninsula averages more snowfall than almost anywhere in the United States—more than anywhere east of the Mississippi River and the most of all non-mountainous regions of the continental United States.[25] Because of the howling storms across Lake Superior, which cause dramatic amounts of precipitation, it has been said that the lake-effect snow makes the Keweenaw Peninsula the snowiest place east of the Rockies. Herman averages 236 inches (600 cm) of snow every year.[26] Lake-effect snow can cause blinding whiteouts in just minutes, and some storms can last for days. Hancock is found frequently on lists of the Snowiest Cities in America.[27]

The banana belt along the Wisconsin border has a more continental climate since most of its weather does not arrive from the lakes. Summers tend to be warmer and winter nights much colder. Coastal communities have temperatures tempered by the Great Lakes. In summer, it might be 10 °F (5 °C) cooler at lakeside than it is inland, and the opposite effect is seen in winter. The area of the Upper Peninsula north of Green Bay though Menominee and Escanaba (and extending west to Iron River) does not have the extreme weather and precipitation found to the north.[2]

Like the entire Lower Peninsula of Michigan, most of the Upper Peninsula observes Eastern Time. However, the four counties bordering Wisconsin are in the Central Time zone.

In 1967, when the Uniform Time Act came into effect, the Upper Peninsula went under year-round CST, with no daylight saving time.[28] In 1973, the majority of the peninsula switched to Eastern Time;[29] only the four western border counties of Gogebic, Iron, Dickinson, and Menominee continue to observe Central Time.



Historically, the Upper Peninsula has tended to vote for the United States' Democratic Party thanks to its legacy of mining and historically high union membership. However, as Democrats have shifted toward social liberalism and as union strength in the peninsula has declined, the region has become progressively less receptive to the Democratic party, and has alternately swung toward either party in recent years. Split-ticket voting has become a common practice in the peninsula. In 2012, for example, Democratic U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow carried every county in the peninsula in her successful 2012 re-election attempt; but in contrast, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney carried all but two counties in the concurrent presidential election.

The breakdown of the 2012 presidential election by county was as follows:


Election results of the 2012 Presidential Election by County in the Upper Peninsula

County Registered Voters Votes Cast Romney/Ryan Obama/Biden Result

Alger 4,671 4,618 2,330 2,212 REP

Baraga 3,540 3,490 1,866 1,574 REP

Chippewa 15,790 15,564 8,278 7,100 REP

Delta 18,968 18,050 9,534 8,330 REP

Dickinson 12,950 12,810 7,688 4,952 REP

Gogebic 7,689 7,576 3,444 4,058 DEM

Houghton 15,477 15,282 8,196 6,801 REP

Iron 6,065 5,988 3,224 2,687 REP

Keweenaw 1,411 1,392 774 582 REP

Luce 3,401 2,596 1,580 991 REP

Mackinac 6,170 6,099 3,397 2,652 REP

Marquette 32,551 32,194 13,606 18,115 DEM

Menominee 11,043 10,923 5,564 5,242 REP

Ontonagon 3,599 3,539 1,906 1,586 REP

Schoolcraft 4,104 4,048 2,142 1,865 REP

TOTAL 147,429 144,168 73,529 70,639 REP

All counties in the U.P. are part of Michigan's 1st congressional district. Dan Benishek, a Republican, has been the U.S. Representative for this district since January 2011.[32]

In Michigan's 2010 gubernatorial election Republican Rick Snyder carried every U.P. county but one, Gogebic, on his way to victory over his Democratic opponent, Virg Bernero.[33]

Proposed statehood[]

Main article: Superior (proposed U.S. state)

Superior is the name of a longstanding 51st state proposal for the secession of the Upper Peninsula from the rest of Michigan, potentially with various portions of northern Wisconsin. Named after Lake Superior, the idea has gained serious attention at times. Because stronger connections to the rest of the state exist since completion of the Mackinac Bridge, the proposal's future is vague.[34] Several prominent legislators, including local politician Dominic Jacobetti, attempted to gain passage of the bill in the 1970s, with little traction.[35]


The Upper Peninsula remains a predominantly rural region. As of the 2010 census, the region had a population of 311,361.[36]

According to the 2010 census, only 103,211 people live in the 12 towns of at least 4,000 people, covering 96.5 square miles (250 km²). Only 116,548 people live in the 18 towns and villages of at least 2,000 people, which cover 108.5 square miles (320.4 km²)—less than 1% of the peninsula's land area.

Cities and Villages of the Upper Peninsula[36]

City Population Area (sq mi) Area (km²)

Marquette 21,355 11.4 30

Sault Ste. Marie 14,144 14.8 38

Escanaba 12,616 12.7 33

Menominee 8,599 5.2 13

Houghton 7,708 4.3 11

Iron Mountain 7,624 7.2 19

Ishpeming 6,470 8.7 23

Ironwood 5,387 6.6 17

Kingsford 5,133 4.3 11

Gladstone 4,973 5.0 13

Hancock 4,634 2.5 6.5

Negaunee 4,568 13.8 36

Manistique 3,097 3.2 8.3

Iron River 3,029 3.5 9.1

Norway 2,845 8.8 23

St. Ignace 2,452 2.7 7.0

Munising 2,355 5.4 14

L'Anse 2,011 2.6 6.7

TOTAL 116,548 96.5 250

Upper Peninsula Land Area and Population Density by County[5]

County Population Land Area (sq mi) Land Area (km²) Population Density (per sq mi) Population Density (per km²)

Alger 9,601 915 2,370 10.5 4.1

Baraga 8,860 898 2,330 9.8 3.8

Chippewa 38,520 1,558 4,040 24.7 9.5

Delta 37,069 1,171 3,030 31.6 12.2

Dickinson 26,168 761 1,970 34.4 13.3

Gogebic 16,427 1,101 2,850 14.9 5.8

Houghton 36,628 1,009 2,610 36.3 14.0

Iron 11,817 1,166 3,020 10.1 3.9

Keweenaw 2,156 540 1,400 4.0 1.5

Luce 6,631 899 2,330 7.3 2.8

Mackinac 11,113 1,021 2,640 10.8 4.2

Marquette 67,077 1,808 4,680 37.1 14.3

Menominee 24,029 1,044 2,700 23.0 8.9

Ontonagon 6,780 1,311 3,400 5.1 2.0

Schoolcraft 8,485 1,171 3,030 7.2 2.8

TOTAL 311,361 16,377 42,420 19.0 7.3

The Upper Peninsula is one of the few regions in the United States that experience population decline. Although not every county in the Upper Peninsula has a declining population, this phenomenon does have a significant impact on the social and economic aspects of many of its communities and citizens. Some of the contributing factors to the Upper Peninsula's shifts in population are the boom and bust cycles of the timber and mining industries, as well as the severity of its winters.[citation needed] Some areas in the Upper Peninsula are more prone to declining population than others, with the six westernmost counties being the most dramatic, going from a 1920 level of 153,674 people (representing 59% of the total population of the entire Upper Peninsula) to a 2010 census level of 82,668 persons (dropping to 26.5% of the total Upper Peninsula's population). It is quite common to see abandoned buildings and ruins in this area; there is even a number of ghost towns that are slowly succumbing to the ubiquitous forest.[citation needed]

Generally speaking, the population of the Upper Peninsula grew throughout the 19th century, and then leveled off and even experienced decline during the 20th century, as can readily be seen in the tables below. The data for these tables is from the U.S. Census;[37][38] A "↑" indicates an increase in population from the previous census, and a "↓" indicates a decrease in population from the previous census.

19th Century Population by Census Year of the Upper Peninsula by County

County 1830 1840 1850 1860 1870 1880 1890 1900

Alger N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 1,238↑ 5,868↑

Baraga N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 1,804↑ 3,036↑ 4,320↑

Chippewa 626↑ 534↓ 898↑ 1,603↑ 1,689↑ 5,248↑ 12,018↑ 21,338↑

Delta N/A N/A N/A 1,172↑ 2,542↑ 6,812↑ 15,330↑ 23,881↑

Dickinson N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 17,890↑

Gogebic N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 13,166↑ 16,738↑

Houghton N/A N/A 708↑ 9,234↑ 13,879↑ 22,473↑ 35,389↑ 66,063↑

Iron N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 4,432↑ 8,990↑

Keweenaw N/A N/A N/A N/A 4,205↑ 4,270↑ 2,894↓ 3,217↑

Luce N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2,455↑ 2,983↑

Mackinac 877↑ 923↑ 3,598↑ 1,938↓ 1,716↓ 2,902↑ 7,830↑ 7,703↓

Marquette N/A N/A 136↑ 2,821↑ 15,033↑ 25,394↑ 39,521↑ 41,239↑

Menominee N/A N/A N/A N/A 1,791↑ 11,987↑ 33,639↑ 27,046↓

Ontonagon N/A N/A 389↑ 4,568↑ 2,845↓ 2,565↓ 3,756↑ 6,197↑

Schoolcraft N/A N/A 16↑ 78↑ N/A 1,575↑ 5,818↑ 7,889↑

TOTAL 1,503↑ 1,457↓ 5,745↑ 21,414↑ 43,700↑ 85,030↑ 180,522↑ 261,362↑

20th and 21st Centuries Population by Census Year of the Upper Peninsula by County

County 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010

Alger 7,675↑ 9,983↑ 9,327↓ 10,167↑ 10,007↓ 9,250↓ 8,568↓ 9,225↑ 8,972↓ 9,862↑ 9,601↓

Baraga 6,125↑ 7,662↑ 9,168↑ 9,356↑ 8,037↓ 7,151↓ 7,789↑ 8,484↑ 7,954↓ 8,735↑ 8,860↑

Chippewa 24,472↑ 24,818↑ 25,047↑ 27,807↑ 29,206↑ 32,655↑ 32,412↓ 29,029↓ 34,604↑ 38,413↑ 38,520↑

Delta 30,108↑ 30,909↑ 32,280↑ 34,037↑ 32,913↓ 34,298↑ 35,924↑ 38,947↑ 37,780↓ 38,520↑ 37,069↓

Dickinson 20,524↑ 19,456↓ 29,941↑ 28,731↓ 24,844↓ 23,917↓ 23,753↓ 25,341↑ 26,831↑ 27,427↑ 26,168↓

Gogebic 23,333↑ 33,225↑ 31,577↓ 31,797↑ 27,053↓ 24,370↓ 20,676↓ 19,686↓ 18,052↓ 17,370↓ 16,427↓

Houghton 88,098↑ 71,930↓ 52,851↓ 47,631↓ 39,771↓ 34,654↓ 34,652↓ 37,872↓ 35,446↓ 36,016↑ 36,628↑

Iron 15,164↑ 22,107↑ 20,805↓ 20,243↓ 17,692↓ 17,184↓ 13,813↓ 13,635↓ 13,175↓ 13,138↓ 11,817↓

Keweenaw 7,156↑ 6,322↓ 5,076↓ 4,004↓ 2,918↓ 2,417↓ 2,264↓ 1,963↓ 1,701↓ 2,301↑ 2,156↓

Luce 4,004↑ 6,149↑ 6,528↑ 7,423↑ 8,147↑ 7,827↓ 6,789↓ 6,659↓ 5,763↓ 7,024↑ 6,631↓

Mackinac 9,249↑ 8,026↓ 8,783↑ 9,438↑ 09287 10,853↑ 9,660↓ 10,178↑ 10,674↑ 11,943↑ 11,113↓

Marquette 46,739↑ 45,786↓ 44,076↓ 47,144↑ 47,654↑ 56,154↑ 64,686↑ 74,101↑ 70,887↓ 64,634↓ 67,077↑

Menominee 25,648↓ 23,778↓ 23,652↓ 24,883↑ 25,299↑ 24,685↓ 24,587↓ 26,201↑ 24,920↓ 25,109↑ 24,029↓

Ontonagon 8,650↑ 12,428↑ 11,114↓ 11,359↑ 10,282↓ 10,584↑ 10,548↓ 9,861↓ 8,854↓ 7,818↓ 6,780↓

Schoolcraft 8,681↑ 9,977↑ 8,451↓ 9,524↑ 9,148↓ 8,953↓ 8,226↓ 8,575↑ 8,302↓ 8,903↑ 8,485↓

TOTAL 325,626↑ 332,556↑ 318,676↓ 323,544↑ 302,258↓ 304,952↑ 304,347↓ 319,757↑ 313,915↓ 317,213↑ 311,361↓



The Upper Peninsula is rich in mineral deposits including iron, copper, nickel and silver. Small amounts of gold have also been discovered and mined. In the 19th century, mining dominated the economy, and the U.P. became home to many isolated company towns. For many years, mines in the Keweenaw Peninsula were the world's largest producers of copper (see Copper mining in Michigan). The mines began declining as early as 1913, with most closing temporarily during the Great Depression. Mines reopened during World War II, but almost all quickly closed after the war ended. The last copper mine in the Copper Country was the White Pine mine, which closed in 1995.

From approximately 1870 to 1915, about thirty-two quarries mined Jacobsville Sandstone in the Upper Peninsula, particularly near Marquette and the town of Jacobsville. The sandstone was used in many buildings, both locally and around the United States.[39]

Ever since logging of white pine began in the 1880s, timber has been an important industry.[40] However, the stands of hemlock and hardwood went under-exploited until the mid-twentieth century as selection cutting was practiced in the western reaches of the forest. Because of the highly seasonal climate and the short growing season, agriculture is limited in the Upper Peninsula, though potatoes, strawberries and a few other small fruits are grown.

Tourism has become the main industry in recent decades. In 2005, ShermanTravel, LLC listed the Upper Peninsula as No. 10 in its assessment of all travel destinations worldwide.[41] The article was republished in April 2006 by MSN.com.[42] The peninsula has extensive coastline on the Great Lakes, large tracts of state and national forests, cedar swamps, more than 150 waterfalls, and low population densities. Because of the camping, boating, fishing, snowmobiling, hunting, and hiking opportunities, many Lower Peninsula and Wisconsin families spend their vacations in the U.P. Tourists also go there from Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee and other metropolitan areas.

Notable attractions[]

  • Au Train Falls
  • Bond Falls
  • Calumet Theatre
  • Calumet Downtown Historic District
  • Castle Rock
  • Copper Harbor
  • Copper Peak, Ironwood Township
  • DeYoung Family Zoo
  • Fayette Historic State Park
  • Fort Mackinac
  • Garlyn Zoo
  • Grand Hotel (Mackinac Island)
  • Grand Island National Recreation Area
  • The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
  • Iron County Historical Museum Complex – Caspian
  • Iron Industry Museum – Negaunee
  • Iron Mountain Iron Mine – Vulcan
  • Isle Royale National Park
  • Keweenaw National Historical Park
  • Keweenaw Waterway and Portage Lake Lift Bridge
  • Kitch-iti-kipi
  • Lake Superior
  • Lake Superior State University, Lakers
  • Laughing Whitefish Falls
  • Mackinac Bridge
  • Mackinac Island
  • Marquette Arts and Culture Center – Marquette
  • The Marquette Lighthouse
  • Marquette Mountain Ski Resort
  • Michigan Technological University, Huskies
  • Mount Bohemia ski center (with the highest vertical drop, 900 feet (270 m), in the Midwest)
  • Munising Falls
  • National Ski Hall of Fame
  • Northern Michigan University, Wildcats
  • Marquette Ore Dock
  • Paulding Light
  • Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
  • Pine Mountain ski jump in Iron Mountain is one of the largest artificial ski jumps in the world.[43]
  • Porcupine Mountains State Park
  • Quincy Copper Mine offering guided tours
  • Seney National Wildlife Refuge
  • Ski Brule in Iron River
  • The Soo Locks
  • Suicide Hill Ski Jump, Ishpeming, Michigan[44]
  • Sylvania Wilderness
  • Tahquamenon Falls State Park
  • Upper Peninsula Children's Museum – Marquette
  • Casinos

American Indian casinos contribute to the tourist attractions and are popular in the U.P. Originally the casinos were simple, one-room affairs. Some of the casinos are now quite elaborate and are being developed as part of resort and conference facilities, including features such as golf courses, pool and spa, dining, and rooms to accommodate guests.

  • Bay Mills Resort & Casino – Brimley
  • Island Resort & Casino – Bark River
  • Kewadin Casinos – Christmas; Hessel; Manistique; St. Ignace; Sault Ste. Marie
  • Kings Club Casino – Brimley
  • Lac Vieux Desert Casino – Watersmeet
  • Ojibwa Casinos – Baraga; Marquette


The Upper Peninsula is separated from the Lower by the Straits of Mackinac, five miles (8 km) across at the narrowest, and is connected to it by the Mackinac Bridge at St. Ignace, one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. Until the bridge was completed in 1957, travel between the two peninsulas was difficult and slow (and sometimes even impossible during winter months). In 1881, the Mackinac Transportation Company was established by three railroads, the Michigan Central Railroad, the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad, and the Detroit, Mackinac and Marquette Railroad, to operate a railroad car ferry across the Straits. Beginning in 1923, the State of Michigan operated automobile ferries between the two peninsulas. At the busiest times of year the wait was several hours long.[45] In winter, travel was possible over the ice only after the straits had solidly frozen.


I‑75 crosses the eastern portion of the Upper Peninsula from the Straits of Mackinac on the south to Sault Ste. Marie and the border with Canada on the north. There it connects with the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge across to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

U.S. Highways[]

 US 2 crosses into Michigan from Wisconsin at Ironwood and runs east to Crystal Falls, where it dips back into Wisconsin. The highway crosses back into Michigan for a second time at Iron Mountain and runs east to its terminus at St. Ignace.

 US 8 enters the state from Wisconsin at Dickinson County's Norway township, crossing the Menominee River and proceeding north into the city of Norway where it ends at US 2.

 US 41 enters at Menominee and goes north to Copper Harbor.

 US 45 crosses into Michigan south of Watersmeet and ends in Ontonagon.

 US 141 enters the state south of Quinnesec. US 141 runs concurrently with US 2 through the Iron Mountain area and crosses back into Wisconsin. US 141 separates from US 2 at Crystal Falls and runs north to US 41 at Covington in Baraga County.

State Trunkline Highways=[]

Of the many "M-" prefixed trunklines crisscrossing the U.P., the four longest (in order of length) are,

 M‑28 runs from Wakefield east across the U.P. to south of Sault Ste. Marie. At 290.373 miles (467.310 km) in length, it is the state's longest trunkline with an M- prefix.

 M‑35 runs from Menominee north to Negaunee.

 M‑26 runs from Rockland north to Copper Harbor.

 M‑123 runs from St. Ignace north and then makes a southward U-turn before terminating at Newberry.

Special road designations[]

The U.S. Forest Service and Federal Highway Administration have designated certain roads within the several National Forests in the U.P. as Federal Forest Highways.[46]

State-maintained highways closest to the Upper Peninsula's Great Lakes shorelines are marked by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) with signs indicating that they are part of the Great Lakes Circle Tour, a designated scenic road system connecting all of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.[47]

MDOT has designated four UP highways as Michigan Heritage Routes for their historic, recreational or scenic qualities.[48] They are: US 2 in Iron County (Iron County Heritage Trail), US 41 from Houghton to Copper Harbor (Copper County Trail which is also a National Scenic Byway), M-35 (UP Hidden Coast Recreational Heritage Trail), and M-123 (Tahquamenon Scenic Heritage Route').


Main article: Airports of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

There are 43 airports in the Upper Peninsula. Of these, six airports have commercial passenger service: Gogebic-Iron County Airport north of Ironwood, Houghton County Memorial Airport southwest of Calumet, Ford Airport west of Iron Mountain, Sawyer International Airport south of Marquette, Delta County Airport in Escanaba, and Chippewa County International Airport south of Sault Ste. Marie. There are 19 other public use airports with a hard surface runway. These are used for general aviation and charter. Notably, Mackinac Island, Beaver Island, and Drummond Island are all accessible by airports. There are five public access airports with turf runways and thirteen airports for the private use of their owners.[citation needed] There is only one control tower in the Upper Peninsula, at Sawyer.[49]

Ferries and bridges[]

The Eastern Upper Peninsula Transportation Authority operates car ferries in its area. These include ferries for Sugar Island, Neebish Island, and Drummond Island. Three ferry companies run passenger ferries from St. Ignace to Mackinac Island.

The three major bridges in the Upper Peninsula are:

Mackinac Bridge, connecting the Lower Peninsula of Michigan with the Upper;

Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge, which connects the city of Sault Ste. Marie to its twin city of Sault Ste. Marie in Canada; and

Portage Lift Bridge, which crosses Portage Lake. The Portage Lift Bridge is the world's heaviest and widest double-decked vertical lift bridge. Its center span "lifts" to provide 100 feet (30 m) of clearance for ships. Since rail traffic was discontinued in the Keweenaw, the lower deck is used to accommodate snowmobile traffic in the winter. As the only land-based link between the north and south sections of the Keweenaw Peninsula, the bridge is crucial to transportation.


Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad: Transports iron ore over a 16-mile (26 km) line from the Empire-Tilden Mine (operated by Cliffs Natural Resources), south of Ishpeming, to Marquette's port on Lake Superior.

Two railroads originally crossed the Upper Peninsula east to west: the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railway, informally known as the Soo Line, running west from Sault Ste. Marie roughly along the Lake Michigan shore, and the Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic Railroad running west from St. Ignace roughly along the Lake Superior shore. In 1960, both railroads were merged into the Soo Line Railroad, the U.S. arm of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The Soo Line trackage in the Upper Peninsula was purchased by the Wisconsin Central Railroad in 1987. In 1997, the Wisconsin Central also purchased from the Union Pacific Railroad the former Chicago and North Western Railway line running into the Upper Peninsula from Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Central was in turn purchased by the Canadian National Railway in 2001. The Canadian National now operates much of the remaining railroad trackage in the Upper Peninsula.

Escanaba and Lake Superior Railroad: Chartered in 1898, the E&LS is an industrial beltline railroad with 347 miles (558 km) of trackage connecting Escanaba, Ontonagon, Republic, and Green Bay, Wisconsin, with a common junction at Channing, and a spur to Nestoria from Sidnaw.

Bus systems[]

Despite its rural character, there are public buses in several counties of the Upper Peninsula.[50]


The Upper Peninsula of Michigan has three state universities (Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan Technological University in Houghton, and Northern Michigan University in Marquette), one private university (Finlandia University located in Hancock, Michigan, on the Keweenaw Peninsula), and five community colleges (Bay Mills Community College in Brimley, Bay de Noc Community College in Escanaba and Iron Mountain, Gogebic Community College in Ironwood, and Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College in Baraga).


Early settlers included multiple waves of people from Nordic countries. There are still Swedish- and Finnish-speaking communities in many areas of the Upper Peninsula today. People of Finnish ancestry make up 16% of the peninsula's population. The U.P. is home to the highest concentration of Finns outside Europe and the only counties of the United States where a plurality of residents claim Finnish ancestry. The Finnish sauna and the concept of sisu have been adopted widely by residents of the Upper Peninsula. The television program Finland Calling, filmed at Marquette station WLUC-TV, is the only Finnish-language television broadcast in the United States; it has aired since March 25, 1962. Finlandia University, America's only college with Finnish roots, is located in Hancock.[51] Street signs in Hancock appear in English and Finnish to celebrate this heritage.

Other sizeable ethnic communities in the Upper Peninsula include French-Canadian, German, Cornish, Italian, and American Indian ancestry.

Upper Peninsula natives speak a dialect influenced by Scandinavian and French-Canadian speech. A popular bumper sticker, a parody of the "Say YES to Michigan" slogan promoted by state tourism officials, shows an outline of the Upper Peninsula and the slogan, "Say ya to da U.P., eh!" The dialect and culture are captured in many songs by Da Yoopers, a comedy music and skit troupe from Ishpeming, Michigan.

Throughout the Upper Peninsula there are newspapers, such as The Daily News of Iron Mountain, The Menominee County Journal of Stephenson, The Daily Mining Gazette of Houghton, The Daily Press of Escanaba, and the Sault Ste. Marie Evening News that serve the rest of the U.P. The Mining Journal, based in Marquette, is the only daily newspaper that publishes a Sunday edition, which is distributed across the entire U.P. (the other six days are distributed in its local area only).

The Keweenaw peninsula is home to several ski areas. Mont Ripley, just outside of Houghton, is popular among students of Michigan Technological University (the university actually owns the mountain). Further up the peninsula in the small town of Lac La Belle is Mt. Bohemia. A skiing purist's resort, Bohemia is a self-proclaimed "experts only" mountain, and it does not groom its heavily gladed slopes.[52] Other ski areas are Pine Mountain located in Iron Mountain, Norway Mountain in the town of the same name, and the Porcupine Mountains located in Ontonagon.

Regional identity[]

Today, the Upper Peninsula is home to 299,184 people—only about 3% of the state's population— living in almost one-third of the state's land area. Residents are known as Yoopers (from "U.P.ers"), and many consider themselves Yoopers before they consider themselves Michiganders. (People living in the Lower Peninsula are commonly called "trolls" by Upper Peninsula residents, as they live "Under da Bridge".) This regionalism is not only a result of the physical separation of the two peninsulas, but also the history of the state.

Residents of the western Upper Peninsula take on some of the cultural identities of both Wisconsin and Michigan. In terms of sports fandom, residents may support Detroit professional teams or those of Wisconsin – particularly the Green Bay Packers. This is a result of both proximity and the broadcast and print media of the area. The four counties that border Wisconsin are also in the Central Time Zone, unlike the rest of Michigan, which is on Eastern time.

A trip downstate is often rather difficult: a trip from Ironwood to Detroit is roughly 600 miles (960 km) long, more than twice the distance to Minneapolis and almost as long as a trip to St. Louis. Such a trip is made more difficult by the lack of freeways: a short section of I-75 is the only Interstate in the U.P. Commonly, people of the western U.P. will go to Minneapolis or Wisconsin for trips. Residents of the northeastern part of the U.P. may cross the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge to Canada more often than they cross the Mackinac Bridge to the Lower Peninsula, and they often associate more closely with Northern Ontario.


The Upper Peninsula has a distinctive local cuisine. The Pasty (pronounced "pass-tee"), a kind of meat turnover originally brought to the region by Cornish miners, is popular among locals and tourists alike. Pasty varieties include chicken, venison, pork, hamburger, and pizza. Many restaurants serve potato sausage and cudighi, a spicy Italian meat.

Finnish immigrants contributed Nisu, a cardamom-flavored sweet bread; pannukakku, a variant on the pancake with a custard flavor; viili (sometimes spelled "fellia"), a stretchy, fermented Finnish milk; and korppu, hard slices of toasted cinnamon bread, traditionally dipped in coffee. Some Finnish foods such as juustoa (squeaky cheese, essentially a cheese curd, like Leipäjuusto) and sauna makkara (a ring-bologna sausage) have become so ubiquitous in Upper Peninsula cuisine that they are now commonly found in most grocery stores and supermarkets.

Maple Syrup is a highly prized local delicacy.[53] Fresh Great Lakes fish, such as the lake trout, whitefish, and (in the spring) smelt are widely eaten. There is minimal concern about contamination of fish from Lake Superior waters.[54] Smoked fish is also popular. Thimbleberry jam and chokecherry jelly is a treat.[55]

Notable residents[]

  • Former University of Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr is an alumnus of Northern Michigan University; he was quarterback for the school's football team during an undefeated season in 1967. He graduated from NMU in 1968 with his B.S. in education and went on to earn his M.A. in education administration at NMU in 1970.
  • James Tolkan, an actor often cast as a strict, overbearing, bald-headed authority who appeared in Back to the Future and Top Gun, was born in Calumet, Michigan.
  • Robert J. Flaherty, a filmmaker who directed and produced the first commercially successful feature-length documentary film, Nanook of the North, in 1922, is from Iron Mountain.
  • George Gipp, the "Gipper"—immortalized in the film Knute Rockne, All American by Ronald Reagan—was born in Laurium.[56] He was the first All-American player of the Notre Dame football program.
  • Crystal Hayes, 2005 Miss Michigan, is originally from Rock, Michigan.
  • Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson, aircraft engineer and aeronautical innovator, was born in Ishpeming.
  • John Lautner, a native of Marquette and alumnus of Northern Michigan University, was one of Frank Lloyd Wright's most successful Taliesin fellows. His Modernist residence, Chemosphere, is a Los Angeles landmark.
  • Mitchell Leisen, film director, was born Menominee, Michigan in 1898. He directed the films Midnight, Easy Living, and other screwball comedies.
  • Former San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions head coach Steve Mariucci and Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo are natives of Iron Mountain. Both went to Northern Michigan University, where Mariucci was quarterback of the Wildcats' 1975 NCAA Division II national championship team.
  • Terry O'Quinn, actor, was born in Sault Ste. Marie in 1952 and grew up in Newberry. O'Quinn most notably played John Locke in the hit TV show Lost. He also currently plays a recurring role as Joe White in CBS police drama Hawaii Five-0.
  • Chase Osborn was the only Governor of Michigan from the Upper Peninsula (1911–1913).
  • Pam Reed is an ultrarunner who currently resides in Tucson, Arizona. She grew up in Palmer, Michigan, and graduated from Michigan Technological University.
  • Gene Ronzani was a professional football running back for the Chicago Bears and head coach of the Green Bay Packers from 1950-53; born in Iron Mountain.
  • Mike Shaw, professional wrestler, was born in Skandia. He wrestled in the WWF as Bastion Booger and in the WCW as Norman the Lunatic.
  • Howard Schultz, chairman of Starbucks Coffee Co., is a Northern Michigan University alumnus.
  • Glenn T. Seaborg, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist and major contributor in the discovery of several of the transuranium elements, was born in Ishpeming.[57] Before his death in 1999, he was the only living person to have a chemical element named after him (seaborgium, abbreviated as Sg and with atomic number 106). This name caused controversy because Seaborg was still alive, but eventually it was accepted by international chemists. Though he lived most of his life in California, the Seaborg Center at Northern Michigan University is named in his honor.
  • Matthew Songer, founder of Pioneer Surgical Technology, lives in Marquette.
  • Mary Chase Perry Stratton, founder of Pewabic Pottery, was born in Hancock, Michigan.[58]
  • Lou Thesz, professional wrestler who held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship longer than anyone in history, was born in Banat, Michigan, on April 24, 1916.
  • Art Van Damme, jazz accordionist, was born in Norway, Michigan.[59]
  • Hon. John D. Voelker, Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, wrote the best-selling book Anatomy of a Murder under the pen name Robert Traver. The film – shot in Big Bay and Ishpeming (with some courtroom scenes in Marquette) — was directed by Otto Preminger.