Here in the Springfield-Branson, Missouri, area, where I live, we are accustomed to seeing Michigan license plates on the cars of visitors to our many vacation attractions. But, have you considered the benefits of taking a heritage tourism visit to Michigan?
The State of Michigan offers a broad array of opportunities for the heritage tourist. Rich in historic, culturally and natural destinations, planning a visit is an exercise in picking and choosing not one of having to look for places to go and things to do. The Motor Cities National Heritage Area (NHA) website is a great place to start planning your visit, with many destinations and events, but it does only cover 16 counties in the southeastern and central parts of the state. I recently published a useful website on Michigan that you may want to visit to expand on that.
Michigan actually consists of two peninsulas – the only state that does. Because of this, Michigan has the longest freshwater coastline of any political subdivision in the world. Michigan is the 11th most extensive state in the USA in total area. The Upper Peninsula is very distinctive in being mountainous and heavily forested with notable cultural attributes. The Upper and Lower Peninsulas are connected by the Mackinac Bridge. The Upper Peninsula has an abundance of natural resources and is a frequent tourist destination.
The first Europeans reached Michigan as early as 1622 and the first permanent settlement was founded in 1668 as a base for Catholic missions by Pere Jacques Marquette. The strategic position of Michigan on the Great Lakes provided rich historical activities into the 19th century. On a personal family history note, we believe my 2nd great-grandmother, said to have been born at Fort Detroit in 1803, was saved from an Indian massacre by the surrender of the fort by General Hull. Hull was court-martial-ed for his actions, but I, personally, thank him, regardless!
More recently the development of Michigan, and Detroit among other localities, as an engineering and manufacturing center, led by the auto industry, has continued that rich historic and cultural status. Have you visited lately? When do you plan to go next?
© Dr. Bill Smith 2012
Dr. Bill Smith is the author of The Heritage Tourist, a monthly column in The In-Depth Genealogist which focuses on the social context of travel and history when applied to our genealogy. Dr. Bill can be found blogging at Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories.