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Highlights from Collier's World Atlas and Gazetteer, 1947


Michigan in 1947

Collier's World Atlas and Gazetteer, 1947


Dateline: June 15, 2023.

Physiography. - Michigan consists of two peninsulas, one north, the other south, or, as they are sometimes termed, an upper peninsula and a lower. The upper one has many hills and low mountain ranges covered with forests and rich in iron and copper ores. The highest point does not exceed 2,023 feet above the lake level. In the lower peninsula the surface is undulating, with occasional hills. Nowhere here is the elevation more than 900 feet above the lake surface. In the north there are forests of coniferous and deciduous trees. Along the western lake-coast there are extensive sand dunes. Bluffs border Lake Huron. About 200 islands belong to Michigan, the largest being Isle Royale on Lake Superior. Thousands of ponds and small lakes dot the State. The rivers afford little navigation, but are the sources of much water power utilizable for manufacturing purposes. In both peninsulas the rainfall is ample. The climate of the northern one is rigorous and the soil is poor; but the southern peninsula has a milder climate and is noted for its heavy harvests of grain, fruit and root crops. Much lumber is cut, though Michigan no longer leads the Union in timber production. Hardwoods and hemlock are the most common timber trees. Of the hardwoods, maple, birch, and beech are the most important.

Minerals. - Michigan ranks second in the output of iron ores, Minnesota being first. For many years Michigan was the foremost State in the production of copper, and the yield is still very great. Both the iron and copper are mined in the upper peninsula. In the lower there is a large area underlain with bituminous coal. This is used chiefly for local purposes. There are large deposits of salt in the Saginaw district and around Manistee, from which has developed an extensive industry in the production of salt. It is obtained as brine from artesian wells. The salt-yielding territory is estimated to comprise 10,000 square miles. Michigan is a leading State in the yield of bromine. Gypsum, building stone, glass sand, fire clay, and cement rock are found in abundance.

Agriculture. - For years the farming area has been spreading, the cutting off of the forests opening up new lands. Proximity to large cities has favored truck gardening and fruit culture; and the State produces immense quantities of early vegetables, including beans, peas and celery. Peaches, strawberries, raspberries, and other fruits are grown for city markets. The potato harvest is very large, and hay is a most important crop. Corn, potatoes, wheat, oats, rye, barley, and buckwheat follow in value. Dairying has become an extensive industry. Butter and cheese are leading products. Much capital is invested in the live stock industry, and the number of domestic farm animals runs into millions. There are 894,000 sheep in the State and the wool clip reached 5,001,000 pounds in 1945. The area devoted to growing sugar beets is about 101,000 acres annually, and Michigan now ranks fifth in their production. Apples, pears, peaches, grapes and plums are the most valuable orchard crops. Michigan is a leading state in the production of peppermint and chicory.

Fisheries. - The lake fisheries employ about 10,000 men, and the product is very valuable. Whitefish, trout, sturgeon, and pickerel are taken in large numbers.

Manufacturing. - The manufactures are numerous and varied. Automobile construction has been first among the State's industries for a number of years. The lumber interests are still of high value, planing mills utilizing most of the timber cut. Other leading products are iron and steel goods, refined salt, woodenware, farming implements and foundry and machine-shop products. Flour milling and beet sugar refining are now highly important interests. Furniture manufacturing is an extensive industry.

Commerce. - With regard to lake transportation Michigan is the most favorably situated of all the States, as it borders on all the Great Lakes, except Lake Ontario. Railroads reach nearly every county, and trunk lines connect the State with the rest of the Union.

History. - French missionaries and fur traders are believed to have visited southern Michigan as early as 1610. In 1634, Nicollet, a French explorer, discovered Lake Michigan. Father Marquette established a mission post at Sault Sainte Marie in 1668. In 1671 Michilimackinac was founded. A settlement was made at Detroit in 1701 by Antoine de la Motte-Cadillac. Population increased but slowly, for the territory was harassed by Indian warfare. In 1763 this region passed into the possession of Great Britain. The Quebec Act (1774) incorporated the territory with Canada, but little progress was made under English government. At the close of the Revolution the British surrendered the region, though they did not withdraw all their troops until 1796. It was part of the Northwest Territory till 1805, when it was set off as a separate Territory. Prior to that event Ohio had been delimited from the Northwest Territory in 1800, and the lower peninsula was annexed in 1802 to the Territory of Indiana. In 1805 Michigan was organized as a Territory, retaining this status until it was admitted into the Union as a State in 1837.

An aerial view of the University of Michigan stadium and campus, Ann Arbor, 1947