How Michigan Got The UP And Other Mysteries Explained.
How did you spend your 4th of July weekend?
I blew part of mine watching "How The States Got Their Shapes" on the History Channel Friday night.
It's not as nerdy as it sounds.
Okay, well, maybe it is, but it was also cool because it explained one of those mysteries that occasionally come up in these parts, perhaps as you're driving up north for a summer vacation. As you get closer to the border with the Upper Peninsula, you've probably wondered why Michigan got that big honking hunk of land when it would make geographic sense to make it part of Wisconsin.
"How The States Got Their Shape" explained it in simple terms: the U-P is Michigan's consolation prize, awarded by the federal government when lines were still being drawn that divided up the great Midwest.
Ohio and Michigan were having at it over...Toledo, of all places. Toledo was a thriving Great Lakes port and both states wanted it--back then, Great Lakes access was a big deal, and states wanted all they could get. Michigan and Ohio literally went to war for Toledo before Washington intervened, giving the port to Ohio and the Upper Peninsula to Michigan in an effort to appease the Wolverine state (the nickname also comes from the Toledo War, coined by Ohioans to describe the way their foes were fighting...it wasn't originally meant as a compliment, but Michigan took ownership of it and the rest is history).
There are a bunch of other fascinating stories about how the lower 48 came to look the way it does today. I have yet to finish the show, and it's idling on my DVR as we speak, waiting for me to hit 'play". I highly recommend it if and when it comes up again in the History Channel's rotation.
Unless, of course, you have a life.