Upper Peninsula of Michigan

The Upper Peninsula (UP), also known as Upper Michigan, is the northern of the two major peninsulas that make up the U.S. state of Michigan. The peninsula is bounded on the north by Lake Superior, on the east by the St. Marys River, and on the south by Lake Michigan, the Straits of Mackinac, and Lake Huron. Topographically, the base of the Upper Peninsula as a geologic feature lies in northeastern Wisconsin between the base of the Door Peninsula and Superior Bay; but in political geography, because most of the peninsula is within the boundaries of Michigan, it is measured eastward from the Porcupine Mountains, from the Wisconsin–Michigan boundary along and between the Montreal and Menominee rivers.

Upper Peninsula
The Lake of the Clouds in the Porcupine Mountains of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
The UP
Coordinates: 46°14′00″N 86°21′00″W
CountryUnited States
  Total16,377 sq mi (42,420 km2)
  Density19/sq mi (7.3/km2)
Time zones
most of the Upper PeninsulaUTC−05:00 (Eastern)
  Summer (DST)UTC−04:00 (EDT)
four counties bordering Wisconsin (Gogebic, Iron, Dickinson, and Menominee)UTC−06:00 (Central)
  Summer (DST)UTC−05:00 (CDT)
Area code(s)906

Michigan's Upper Peninsula is bounded on land by Wisconsin to the southwest and west; and in territorial waters by Minnesota to the west, Ontario to the west, north and east, and the Door Peninsula of Wisconsin extends into Lake Michigan east of the western Upper Peninsula. Five Michigan Upper Peninsula counties include nearby major islands: Mackinac Island, Round Island and Bois Blanc Island in Lake Huron are in Mackinac County; Sugar Island and Neebish Island in the St. Marys River, and Drummond Island in Lake Huron are in Chippewa County; Grand Island is in Alger County; Summer Island is Delta County; and Isle Royale is part of Keweenaw County.

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]

The peninsula's largest cities are Marquette, Sault Ste. Marie, Escanaba, Menominee, Houghton, and Iron Mountain. The heavily forested land, soil types, short growing season and logistical factors (e.g. long distance to market, lack of infrastructure, etc.) make the Upper Peninsula poorly suited for agriculture. The economy is based primarily on logging and tourism; mineral mining - mainly iron, gold and copper - was a major industry during a "golden age" from 1890 to 1920.


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, at 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 what became Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota (previously included in the Indiana and Illinois Territories). When Michigan applied for statehood in the 1830s, the proposal corresponded to the original territorial boundaries.

However, there was an armed conflict known as the Toledo War with the state of Ohio over the location of their mutual border. Meanwhile, 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. President Andrew Jackson's government offered the remainder of the Upper Peninsula to Michigan, if it would cede the Toledo Strip to Ohio. A constitutional convention of the state legislature refused, but a second convention, hastily convened by Governor Stevens Thomson Mason, consisting primarily of his supporters, agreed in December 1836 to the deal. 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] The Eagle Mine, a nickel-copper mine, opened in 2014.[4]

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 northwestern 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.[5]

There was a boundary dispute over the border with Wisconsin. The northwesternmost portion of the border follows a line from Lac Vieux Desert to the headwaters of the Montreal River. An 1847 survey established the east branch of the Montreal River as the border. However, the 1908 revision of the Constitution of Michigan specified that the west branch of the Montreal River was the proper border, which would have placed at additional 360 square miles of land on the Michigan side of the border.[6] A 1926 Supreme Court decision awarded this tract of land to Wisconsin.[7]


The Upper Peninsula contains 16,377 square miles (42,420 km2),[8] 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. Marys 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.[9]

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.[10] 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 billion 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.[11]

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.[12] 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, porcupines, chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons, opossum and bats. There is a large variety of birds, including hawks, osprey, owls, 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 such as 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.

There is significant controversy over the presence of Eastern Cougars in the U.P.[13] 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.[14][15] These reports increased in number over the first decade of the 21st century. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE)[lower-alpha 1] 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.[17] As late as January 2007, the DNRE's official position was that no cougars lived in Michigan.[18] Several residents in the state disagree with both current and previous positions on the part of the DNRE.[18][19] 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.[20] These results were disputed in a second journal article in 2007 by other researchers from Eastern Michigan University and the U.S. Forest Service.[21] 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.[22] The DNRE verified five sets of tracks and two trail camera photos in Delta, Chippewa, Marquette, and Menominee counties since 2008.[23] 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".[19]

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[24] and Phragmites australis, both of which are considered to be a threat to native hydrophyte wetland plants.[25][26]

The Emerald ash borer was first reported in the U.P. at Brimley State Park,[27] 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 the larger part 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.[28] The Keweenaw Peninsula averages more snowfall than any other location east of the Mississippi River.[29] 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.[30] 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.[31]

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 (5.6 °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] The coldest temperature officially recorded in the Upper Peninsula was −48 °F (−44 °C) in Humboldt in January 1915.[32]

Time zones

Like the entire Lower Peninsula, 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.[33] In 1973, the majority of the peninsula switched to Eastern Time;[34] only the four western border counties of Gogebic, Iron, Dickinson, and Menominee continue to observe Central Time. Daylight saving time is observed peninsula-wide.


There are 15 counties in the Upper Peninsula.

State prisons are located in Baraga, Marquette, Munising, Newberry, Marenisco and Kincheloe.


Historically, the Upper Peninsula tended to vote for the Democratic Party due 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 steadily 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 2012 reelection campaigns, but Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney carried all but two counties in the 2012 presidential election. Donald Trump swept all counties across the Upper Peninsula except Marquette County.

2012 presidential election[35][36]
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. Jack Bergman, a Republican, has been the U.S. Representative for this district since January 2017.

Upper Peninsula vote
by party in presidential elections [37]
Year REP DEM Others
2016[38] 56.40% 82,018 37.77% 54,923 5.83% 8,476
2012[39] 50.80% 73,529 47.49% 68,747 1.71% 2,477
2008[40] 46.12% 69,647 51.82% 78,257 2.06% 3,108
2004[41] 51.52% 78,276 47.31% 71,888 1.17% 1,781
2000[42] 50.61% 70,256 45.95% 63,791 3.43% 4,768

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.[43]

Proposed statehood

Due to the geographic separation and perceived cultural and political differences from the Lower Peninsula, at various times there have been proposals for the Upper Peninsula to secede from Michigan as a 51st state named Superior, sometimes including portions of northern Wisconsin and/or the northern Lower Peninsula. Several prominent legislators, including the region's long-serving state representative Dominic Jacobetti, attempted unsuccessfully to gain passage of such a bill in the 1970s.[44] It would be the least populous state in the union, and as stronger connections to the rest of Michigan have developed since completion of the Mackinac Bridge in the 1950s, the proposal's future is unclear.[45]


The Upper Peninsula remains a predominantly rural region. As of the 2010 census, the region had a population of 311,361—scarcely more than 3% of Michigan's total population.[46]

According to the 2010 census, 103,211 people live in the 12 towns of at least 4,000 people, covering 96.5 square miles (250 km2). A total of 116,548 people live in the 18 towns and villages of at least 2,000 people, which cover 108.5 square miles (281 km2)—less than 1% of the peninsula's land area.

The Upper Peninsula has experienced population decline, although this has not been the case for every county. In some areas of the Upper Peninsula the population has declined more than in others, with the six westernmost counties having witnessed the largest decrease, from a 1920 population of 153,674 to a 2010 population of 82,668. Some ghost towns exist in the region.[47]

The population of the Upper Peninsula grew throughout the 19th century and then leveled off and experienced decline during the 20th century.[48][49] A "" indicates an increase in population from the previous census, and a "" indicates a decrease in population from the previous census.

Population by census year of the Upper Peninsula by county
County 1830 1840 1850 1860 1870 1880 1890 1900 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010
Alger 1,238 5,868 7,675 9,983 9,327 10,167 10,007 9,250 8,568 9,225 8,972 9,862 9,601
Baraga 1,804 3,036 4,320 6,125 7,662 9,168 9,356 8,037 7,151 7,789 8,484 7,954 8,735 8,860
Chippewa 626 534 898 1,603 1,689 5,248 12,018 21,338 24,472 24,818 25,047 27,807 29,206 32,655 32,412 29,029 34,604 38,543 38,520
Delta 1,172 2,542 6,812 15,330 23,881 30,108 30,909 32,280 34,037 32,913 34,298 35,924 38,947 37,780 38,520 37,069
Dickinson 17,890 20,524 19,456 29,941 28,731 24,844 23,917 23,753 25,341 26,831 27,427 26,168
Gogebic 13,166 16,738 23,333 33,225 31,577 31,797 27,053 24,370 20,676 19,686 18,052 17,370 16,427
Houghton 708 9,234 13,879 22,473 35,389 66,063 88,098 71,930 52,851 47,631 39,771 34,654 34,652 37,872 35,446 36,016 36,628
Iron 4,432 8,990 15,164 22,107 20,805 20,243 17,692 17,184 13,813 13,635 13,175 13,138 11,817
Keweenaw 4,205 4,270 2,894 3,217 7,156 6,322 5,076 4,004 2,918 2,417 2,264 1,963 1,701 2,301 2,156
Luce 2,455 2,983 4,004 6,149 6,528 7,423 8,147 7,827 6,789 6,659 5,763 7,024 6,631
Mackinac 877 923 3,598 1,938 1,716 2,902 7,830 7,703 9,249 8,026 8,783 9,438 9,287 10,853 9,660 10,178 10,674 11,943 11,113
Marquette 136 2,821 15,033 25,394 39,521 41,239 46,739 45,786 44,076 47,144 47,654 56,154 64,686 74,101 70,887 64,634 67,077
Menominee 1,791 11,987 33,639 27,046 25,648 23,778 23,652 24,883 25,299 24,685 24,587 26,201 24,920 25,109 24,029
Ontonagon 389 4,568 2,845 2,565 3,756 6,197 8,650 12,428 11,114 11,359 10,282 10,584 10,548 9,861 8,854 7,818 6,780
Schoolcraft 16 78 1,575 5,818 7,889 8,681 9,977 8,451 9,524 9,148 8,953 8,226 8,575 8,302 8,903 8,485
Total 1,5031,4575,74521,41443,70085,030180,522261,362325,626332,556318,676323,544302,258304,952304,347319,757313,915317,213311,361



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.[50]

Ever since logging of white pine began in the 1880s, timber has been an important industry.[51] 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.[52] The article was republished in April 2006 by MSN.com.[53] 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. The opening of the Mackinac Bridge in 1957 (see below) has made the Upper Peninsula easily accessible to tourists and has helped make the UP a year-round tourist destination.

Notable attractions


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.


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.[56] In winter, travel was possible over the ice only after the straits had solidly frozen.


Interstate Highways

U.S. Highways

State trunkline highways

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

Special road designations

Markers for Federal Forest Highway 16, the Great Lakes Circle Tour, and a Pure Michigan Byway
  • 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.[57]
  • 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.[58]
  • MDOT has designated five UP highways as Pure Michigan Byways for their historic, recreational or scenic qualities.[59][60] They are: US 2 in Iron County (Iron County Heritage Trail) and in Schoolcraft and Mackinac counties (Top of the Lake Scenic Byway), US 41 from Houghton to Copper Harbor (Copper County Trail, also a National Scenic Byway), M-35 (UP Hidden Coast Recreational Heritage Trail), M-123 (Tahquamenon Scenic Heritage Route) and M-134 (M-134 North Huron Byway)


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. There is only one control tower in the Upper Peninsula, at Sawyer.[61]

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 about 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.


Bus systems

Despite its rural character, there are public buses in several counties of the Upper Peninsula.[62]


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, and people of Finnish ancestry make up 16% of the peninsula's population; the UP 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 was for a long period the only Finnish-language television broadcast in the United States; it aired on Marquette station WLUC-TV from March 25, 1962, until March 29, 2015.[63] Finlandia University, America's only college with Finnish roots, is located in Hancock.[64] Street signs in Hancock appear in English and Finnish to celebrate this heritage.

Other sizable ethnic communities in the Upper Peninsula include French-Canadian, German, Cornish, Italian, and Ojibwe 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 in Iron Mountain, The Menominee County Journal in Stephenson, The Daily Mining Gazette in Houghton, The Daily Press in 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, with the exception of Chippewa and eastern Mackinac counties, 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 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.[65] 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 western Upper Peninsula is home to about 173,887 people, while the eastern Upper Peninsula is home to about 133,499 people, a total of 307,386—only about 3% of the state's population—living in almost one-third of the state's land area.[66][67] Residents are known as Yoopers (from "U.P.ers"), and many consider themselves Yoopers before they consider themselves Michiganders.[68] (People living in the Lower Peninsula are commonly called "trolls" by Upper Peninsula residents, as they live "Under the 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. In some cases, commercial cartographers draw incorrect maps that inadvertently annex the Upper Peninsula into Wisconsin.[69]


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.[68] 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 juusto (squeaky cheese, essentially a cheese curd, like Leipäjuusto) and saunamakkara (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.[70] 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.[71] Smoked fish is also popular. Thimbleberry jam and chokecherry jelly are a treat.[72]

Notable people

See also


  1. The DNRE was split back into the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on January 4, 2011.[16]


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Further reading

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