Top 10 Michigan Wonders

Top Attraction in Michigan

We have all heard of the 7 Wonders of the World and I thought that there were at least 10 places or things in Michigan that could be considered “wonders.” Without further ado and in no particular order, here we go!

World’s Largest Steam Hoist at the Quincy Mine

The Quincy Mine Shaft #2 was 1.75 miles deep and required the world’s largest steam-driven hoist to get the miners into the mine and the ore out.

At one time the nation got the majority of its copper out of the Upper Peninsula mines. It’s nice to see that even though the Quincy mine is no longer in production that they have made it visitor friendly and provide pretty cool tours. For more information check out www.quincymine.com

Siphon Bridge in Manistique

Once featured in Ripley’s “Believe it or Not” the Siphon Bridge spans the Manistique River. As traffic on M-94 crosses the bridge the roadbed is actually below the water level of the river.

As a kid, I was always fascinated by the fact that as we drove over the bridge we were actually below the water level of the river. I also found it neat that the water actually helped to support the bridge. Atmospheric pressure forces the water under the bridge giving it its name – Siphon Bridge.

Sleeping Bear Dunes

One of my favorite spots in Michigan is the Sleeping Bear Dunes and the surrounding communities of Glen Arbor and Frankfort. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore encompasses 65 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline with views 400 feet above the great lake at the Empire, Pyramid Point, and Sleeping Bear dune overlooks.

The Legend of Sleeping Bear

There was a fire in Wisconsin that pushed a mother bear and her two cubs into the waters of Lake Michigan in order to escape the blaze. As the bears swam across Lake Michigan the two cubs fell farther and farther behind the mother.

Finally, the mother bear reached the Michigan shore and climbed to the top of a bluff to watch for her two cubs. The two cubs were exhausted and drowned before they were able to reach the shore. The Great Spirit Manitou created two islands (now known as North and South Manitou Islands) to mark the places where they died. The large solitary dune was created to honor the spot where the mother bear dutifully kept watch for her cubs.

Kathi-Jo Wargin has a wonderfully illustrated children’s book, “The Legend of Sleeping Bear.”

Kitch-iti-kipi (Big Spring)

The Legend Behind the Name

One of the legends surrounding this spring says that Kitch-iti-kipi was the name of a young chieftain who was asked by a fair Indian maiden to prove his love for her by canoeing into the spring and catching her as she jumped from a tree branch. Apparently he drowned in the icy depths of the pool of water and the spring was then named after him.

Visitors to the spring can take a self-guided raft over the 40-foot deep spring and view huge trout swimming amongst ancient tree trunks in the crystal clear water.

Mackinac Island

In 1875 Mackinac Island was designated as only the second National Park in America (Yellowstone was first). Soldiers remained stationed at Fort Mackinac until 1895.

Lots were made available on the east and west bluffs for homes. Elegant “cottages” were constructed by lumbermen and railroad barons.

Vehicles (or horseless carriages) were officially banned in 1898. This move was probably the best one that could have been made in order to preserve the island and create one of the best places in the midwest to get away from the daily rat race.

The numerous rock formations, hiking trails, gorgeous views of Lake Huron, ban on vehicles, and the pleasant clip-clopping of horses make this place truly unique and definitely one of Michigan’s Wonders.

The Soo Locks

The first lock on the American side was completed in 1855 to enable ships to traverse the 21-foot drop from Lake Superior to Lake Huron. Now the Poe (1,200 feet long) and MacArthur (800 feet long) are the two locks currently in service.

You can take a tour of the locks via the Soo Locks Boat Tours and see what it feels like to go up and down the locks.

The Soo Locks are the largest locks in the United States and accommodate more than 11,000 vessels each year on average. View the Soo Locks webcam to see ships passing through the locks.

The Cascades in Jackson

The Cascades were completed in 1932 behind the direction of William Sparks. The Cascades are a series of falls, pools, and fountains that are lit by numerous computer-controlled lights at night with music that is coordinated with the lights for a spectacular show every evening in the summer.

Music from the Big Band era through today is played and an evening at the Cascades is a good time for the entire family. Certainly a unique attraction for visitors from Michigan and around the world.

Admission is $3 per person ($5 on nights with fireworks) and kids 5 and under are free. They are open each night from 8:30 until 11 pm all summer long.

Watch the video below for a flavor of how things look at the Cascades with the music, water, and lights.

City of Salt Under Detroit

A while back (okay, millions of years) a saltwater sea existed over present-day Michigan, and when it evaporated it left a generous layer of salt behind. This layer of salt was eventually buried by the sediment deposits left behind by the glaciers that once covered Michigan.

Salt mining in Detroit began in 1896 when a 1,100-foot shaft was sunk. Before the mine closed there were over 100 miles of roads dug in the salt mine that encompassed about 1,500 acres as well. The mine closed in 1983 and was briefly reopened in 1998.

It is currently closed and tours are not available. For more info check out www.detroitsalt.com.

Mackinac Bridge

Construction of the Mackinac Bridge began in 1954 and opened for traffic on November 1, 1957. At one time it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.

The bridge is approximately 5 miles long. The two towers that hold the suspension cables are 552 feet above the water. When you are halfway across the bridge, the roadway is 199 feet above the water.

For more information, pictures, and videos about the Mackinac Bridge please visit my Mackinac Bridge post.

The Superior Dome (aka the Yooper Dome)

It gets pretty doggone cold up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It gets even colder when the north wind blows across Lake Superior. You can’t forget the snow.

Marquette receives 160 inches of snow on average and it can snow as early as September and not melt until May. This makes playing football outdoors in the fall along the shore of Lake Superior a bone-chilling proposition. For this and other reasons Northern Michigan University constructed the Superior Dome (or cheerfully known as the Yooper Dome) and it opened September 14, 1991.

I have had a tour of the dome and it is one of the most incredible structures I have ever seen. To make a dome from wood is an incredible feat and I tip my hat to the engineers and laborers who built it.

Here are some quick facts about the Superior Dome:

  • It is the world’s largest wooden dome
  • Constructed of 781 Douglas Fir beams
  • 108.5 miles of fir decking
  • 5.1 acres under one roof
  • Perm. seating capacity of 8,000
  • 14 stories high
  • The dome can withstand 80 m.p.h. winds and 60 lbs. per square foot of snow
  • The dome is also home to the largest retractable artificial turf carpet in the world

What other Michigan Wonders can you think of?

I am quite certain that there are other “Michigan Wonders” that I have inadvertently left off this list that you feel are justified in appearing here.

Feel free to share them. I can always expand this list. It doesn’t have to remain just a Top 10 list.

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