Guest Post: Michigan, the Water Wonderland

Editor's note: The 2017 Project WET USA Coordinators Conference starts October 2nd in Traverse City, Michigan, with new coordinator training. The rest of the conference runs from October 2-5. Project WET Michigan Coordinator Janet Vail has been organizing the conference all year and submitted this fun article about Michigan, the Water Wonderland.

by Dr. Janet Vail, Michigan Project WET Coordinator 

Map of Michigan, courtesy of the University of Texas at Austin Perry-Castaneda Library Map CollectionYoopers?  Trolls? Down-staters?  Fudgies?  We have them all in Michigan.  So what are they?

Yooper: A person who lives in the U.P. or Upper Peninsula. Michigan acquired the U.P. after a dispute with Ohio. Michigan and Ohio both wanted a 468 square mile strip of land along their borders near Toledo. The two states mustered militias, but no battle was ever fought. Eventually, Congress devised a compromise that gave the disputed land to Ohio. To make up for the lost property, Congress gave Michigan the Upper Peninsula, which was originally part of a U.S. territory. At first, it seemed like a bad deal for Michigan until copper and iron were discovered in the U.P. Some of the animosity between Michigan and Ohio seems to continue today, but now the states duke it out in university stadiums. The rivalry between the University of Michigan and Ohio State is like no other.

Troll: A person who lives in lower Michigan or below the Mackinac Bridge. “Up north” means the northern part of the lower peninsula – not the U.P.

Down-staters: A term for people who live in lower Michigan and travel north of the 45th parallel.  This is where most of the people live – think the Detroit metro area.

Fudgies: People who live anywhere in Michigan other than Mackinac Island and travel to the island to buy fudge.  By the way, Michiganders pronounce “Mackinac” as “Mackinaw”.

No matter where you live in Michigan, there is water nearby. The state's name, Michigan, is of French origins (form of the Ojibwe word) mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake".  You’re never more than 85 miles from the shores of a Great Lake – Superior, Huron, Michigan or Erie. Anyone can drive to the beach for the day to visit the 3,288 miles of coastline. No place in Michigan is more than six miles from one of the 64,980 inland lakes.


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