Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A 51st State In...Michigan?

From Mother Jones
Iron Range: An ore dock sit empty in downtown Marquette. In its heyday, trains would ride the rails to the top, then dump their iron ore into the barges waiting below. (Photo: Tim Murphy).

Right off the bat this guy fucked up.  They used to load ore boats at this ore dock.  The big several hundred feet long boats (e.g., the Edmund Fitzgerald) that hauled iron ore down to the steel mills in Cleveland and Gary.

With everyone I talk to, the second-class sentiment is a constant. "We're lower Michigan's playground," says Mike Delke, the woodcarver. "They'd be happy if when they crossed the Mackinaw Bridge, this was all woods."
This part he got right, except he misspelled Mackinac.

You can drive for 40 minutes without seeing a house let alone a town, and because the virgin White Pine forests of the UP (as it's known) were basically clear-cut over the last century-and-a-half, the younger trees look, at least from the road, as if someone has gone into Photoshop and scaled them down but left the sky as is. In other words, you feel higher up, not only in relation to the Mitten of lower Michigan, but relative to the ground itself. 
But there's a cultural element, too. For most of its existence, the UP has been isolated from the rest of the state, bordered by three of the Great Lakes plus Wisconsin, and accessible to the rest of Michigan only by boat until the late 1950s when someone finally built a bridge (and Yoopers, as natives of the UP are known, immediately began talking about blowing it up).
This part is right too.

One example would be if you jump on I-75 and drive over the Mackinaw Bridge to Toledo, and see how many rest areas you see. They're everywhere."
"And then take route 2 from Ironwood to Menominee—" He takes off his hat, emblazoned with the outline of the UP, and traces the route. "If you go from here to here on US-2, which is our equivalent to 75, you'll find one restroom.
"They probably feel that because we're Yoopers, we don't need modern restrooms. We can just use trees."
I tried to find a song by Da Yoopers called "Dear Mr. Governor", but was unable to find a video.  In the song it says, "Dear Mr. Governor, we asked you for some rest stops and instead you sent us moose".


  1. Went to MoJo and read the article. What happened to the ore boats? I know about the EF. Gordon Lightfoot had a song about it that lasted forever. Also how doe a border with Wisconsin isolate UP? they put up a fence?
    The guy MoJo quoted sounds a bit less enlightened than you so. Comes from seeing the world through nothing bigger than the local coffee shop window? I fight that at home in Saskatchewan all the time too.

  2. The ore boats are still running -- there's an active ore dock in Marquette to load taconite pellets from the Empire and Tilden open pit iron mines.

  3. So other than that how is it going?


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