Big in Michigan, Volume 1: A Look at the World’s Largest and World’s Longest Things in Michigan
We like things big here in Michigan, so it should come as little surprise that our state is home to some of the world’s largest/longest/biggest things. The Upper Peninsula boasts nearly a thousand miles of shoreline on Lake Superior, the World’s Largest Freshwater Lake (by area). Surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes, Michigan has the longest freshwater coastline of any political subdivision in the world. Chances are, you’ve driven by something in this state that was or is the world’s largest/longest, maybe without even knowing it! Travel The Mitten decided to put together a list of these sites, starting with 10 and adding more posts as we visit/discover more sites. If you know of something we haven’t included, feel free to leave it in the comments, post it on our Facebook page or email it to us (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can include it on a future list!
Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island: World’s Largest Porch – Mackinac Island’s premier lodging destination has a porch that is referred to as the world’s largest, at 660 feet long. Five presidents and many foreign dignitaries have stayed here, and the hotel served as a setting for the film Somewhere in Time starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. The hotel is easily the most recognizable landmark that comes into view on the ferry ride over, and it remains accessible to all during daytime hours (for a $10 entrance fee).
World’s Largest Limestone Quarry, Rogers City – Limestone is a key component in the manufacturing of steel, chemicals and concrete, and the Rogers City quarry owned by Carmeuse Lime is the world’s largest. After the timber industry died down in the region, limestone provided a second round of industry in the area. The size of the limestone deposit and its quality, as well as the availability of easy transport by water, continue to make this a successful operation. A port (Calcite) at the quarry sees self-unloading freighters take its products to ports around the Great Lakes.
World’s Largest Cement Plant, Alpena – A location in the middle of a large limestone deposit and easy access to the water helped make Alpena the perfect location for this cement plant that opened in the early 1900s. Ships continue to load cement here to ship out to ports all over the Great Lakes, and while this is no longer the largest plant of its kind in the world, it remains near the top of the list in the United States. The plant has an annual capacity of around 3 million tons of cement.
Superior Dome at Northern Michigan University, Marquette: World’s Largest Wooden Dome – At 14 stories tall, the Superior Dome on the campus of Northern Michigan University in Marquette is easily spotted from Lake Superior and is one of the area’s best-known landmarks. A geodesic dome constructed of fir, it is the home of the Wildcats’ football team (NCAA – Division II) and seats 8,000 (but can hold 10,000+ for other events). It cost nearly $24 million to complete construction of this dome, which opened in 1991. Other uses include soccer, field hockey, track, and campus/community events.
World’s Largest Float Copper at Presque Isle Park, Marquette – It may not look like much when driving by, but the large piece of float copper on display in Marquette’s Presque Isle Park is actually quite impressive as it weighs in at 28.2 tons and measures 13 feet x 15 feet. This piece was discovered on private land in the Keweenaw Peninsula, and was kept from being melted down thanks to the efforts of late historian and educator Fred Rydholm. Efforts continue to raise the money needed to keep this piece of history on display, “if you wish to be part of saving the World’s Largest pure copper boulder, please mail donations and pledges to Marquette Community Foundation/The Copper Fund, 401 East Fair Ave, Marquette MI 49855. Contact Carl Lindquist for more information: 906-228-6095 ext. 14.” – from aaapf.org.
World’s Largest Crucifix: Cross in the Woods, Indian River – Around 300,000 visitors make their way to the Cross in the Woods Shrine in Indian River each year. A 55-foot crucifix that is referred to as the world’s largest is the highlight, and there are five smaller statues to see as well. 28 stairs lead up to the cross and represent stairs that Jesus climbed before he was sentenced to death by Pontius Pilate. A church on site holds mass daily, and can accommodate 1,000 people. Interpretive signs that details the Stations of the Cross – 14 events from Jesus’ last days on earth – are located in the pine forest on the Shrine grounds.
World’s Largest Cherry Pie, Charlevoix AND Traverse City – Visitors to Northwest Michigan may get confused when they stumble across not one, but two roadside pie tins laying claim to the world’s largest cherry pie. It turns out that each town held claim to the record at some point, although both have been beaten out by a pie from Oliver, British Columbia, Canada (39,000+ pounds) since then. Charlevoix set the record in 1976, with a pie that weighed 17, 420 pounds. The monument to their record can be found on the side of US-31, south of town. Traverse City took over the record in 1987 with a pie that weighed in at 28,350 pounds – a certified Guinness World Record at the time and a fitting honor for a town that proudly hosts a Cherry Festival each summer. Their monument to baking glory can be found at 3424 Cass Rd. on the south end of town.
ArtPrize in Grand Rapids: World’s Largest Art Competition – An art competition open to anyone 18 and up who can find a venue to host their piece, Art Prize takes over downtown Grand Rapids for 19 days each fall. Started in 2009 by Rick DeVos, this competition awards two $200,000 grand prizes (one for public vote, one for juried vote) as well as smaller awards in eight different categories. The average number of entrants is around 1,500 and the average number of host venues is around 150 sites. Anila Quayyam Agha’s entry “Intersections,” shown above, was featured at the Grand Rapids Art Museum last year and took home the top award in both the public and juried votes (and $300,000).
World’s Largest Steam-Hoist: Quincy Mine, Hancock – The incredibly successful Quincy Mine produced profits for more than 50 consecutive years, and had the world’s deepest mine shaft when operations ceased. To get ore and workers in and out of this shaft, the world’s largest steam hoist was built. It weighed more than 880 tons and saved the company a great deal of money as it was able to move 10 pounds of ore at a time at speeds of more than 30 miles per hour. The largest concrete slab ever poured (at the time) provided the base that this hoist rested on. Today, this mine is a top attraction of the Keweenaw and visitors can tour many of the remaining structures. Head over to http://www.quincymine.com/ for more information and hours of operation.
World’s Largest Indian: Hiawatha in Ironwood – While Hiawatha is no longer the world’s tallest Indian, he is still the largest thanks to a weight of 16,000 pounds (including anchoring steelwork meant to sustain high wind speeds) and a height of 52 feet. His location in a neighborhood park in the small Upper Peninsula town of Ironwood makes it easy to visit, yet there are limited signs leading the way from US-2. See our Roadside Attractions post for more details.