Flaky Fun Facts About Michigan

Flaky Fun Facts About Michigan

Forest Dunes Golf Course, Roscommon

Forest Dunes Golf Course, Roscommon

As the white stuff continues to blanket the state, I thought you might enjoy some snow-related facts and tidbits about Michigan to occupy you during breaks between shoveling. Snow fooling:

* A flurry of “Snow Villages” or locations dotted the Michigan map in the 1800s. All have melted away:
Snow, Berrien County, 1875
Snowflake, Antrim County; 1879
Snow Prairie, Branch County, 1867
Snow’s Landing, Wayne County, 1800
Snowtown, Newaygo County, 1857

A tourist to the Keweenaw snaps the roadside snow stick in September

A tourist to the Keweenaw snaps the roadside snow stick in September

* The Keweenaw Peninsula has a good start on snowfall this winter, with 226″ measured so far this season—but that’s behind the 273″ on February 25 of last year.

The area’s landmark Snow Thermometer got a workout in 2013-14, with 340.5 inches of the white stuff measured between October 21 and May 19, when the county quit counting. Impressive, but shy of the record high 390.4 inches that fell in the winter of 1978-79.

The simple measuring tool along US-41 north of Mohawk is a photo stop any time of year. The arrow jutting out to the right near the top of the snow stick indicates last year’s accumulation.

* Ishpeming, Michigan is home to the National Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum, the birthplace of organized skiing in the U.S.

* The Ishpeming Ski Club was founded in 1887 as the Norden Ski Club, and in January hosted its 128th annual Suicide Hill Ski Tournament.

* Michigan is home to the only “ski flying” hill in the Western Hemisphere, Copper Peak in Ironwood.

Neil Snow

Neil Snow, All American (file photo)

* Neil Worthington Snow was a standout athlete at the University of Michigan. The 1901 football All American also lettered in track, baseball and, no doubt, snowball fights.

* Retired University of Michigan physician Thomas L. Clark for years has been known as Dr. Snowflake for his talent at snipping intricate designs from paper. Watch for his work on display during the 2015-16 snow season at the Gifts of Art Gallery in the Taubman Health Center in Ann Arbor.

snowshoe hartwick* You can luge yourself at the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, one of only four luge tracks open to the public in the U.S. There’s ice skating, snowshoeing, XC-skiing and sledding, too.

* Clarence Iverson began handcrafting snowshoes in 1954, using local white ash, full grain rawhide and copper hardware. Iverson Snowshoes, still makes snowshoes—17 varieties—as well as furniture in the same stye as the shoes, in the tiny Upper Peninsula town of  Shingleton.

Bishop Baraga, the Snowshoe Priest, overlooks Keweenaw Bay

Bishop Baraga, the Snowshoe Priest, overlooks Keweenaw Bay

* Bishop Frederic Baraga migrated from Slovenia in 1830 to minister to the Native Americans and settlers in the Great Lakes region.

When he came to the Upper Peninsula he had to travel great distances, by snowshoe in winter, and he became known as the Snowshoe Priest.

* Ray Muscott of Waters, Michigan received the first U.S. patent for a snow-vehicle, in 1916.

* A Great Laker, Carl Eliason of Sayner, Wisconsin, built the prototype of today’s snowmobile in 1924. (Okay, so it’s not Michigan—but it’s just across the lake and this is the Great Lakes Gazette.)

* In 1965 Sherman Poppen of Muskegon strapped two skis together and created a snow surfer for his daughter; the “Snurfer” proved popular and evolved into the snowboard.

A vintage sled at Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum

Logo for a vintage sled at Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum

Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum is located in our Upper Peninsula town of Naubinway, the northernmost point on Lake Michigan. Read about the showcase for antique snowmachines and related memorabilia, which is a labor of love supported by volunteers who raised funds to build a new structure for the display of old, odd and innovative sleds.

* In the Les Cheneaux Islands area of the Eastern U.P., known as The Snows, the Snows Bar & Grill in Cedarville serves a very good burger and mean (in a good way) Bloody Mary.

The rustic Snows Bar & Grill in Les Cheneaux, "The Snows," in the Eastern U.P.

The rustic Snows Bar & Grill in Les Cheneaux, “The Snows,” in the Eastern U.P.

* The Original Snow scoop is made by Kaufman Sheet Metal in Ironwood, in business in the Western U.P. since 1949.

The sturdy alternative to snow shovels requires no lifting, just shifting of the white stuff with the broad, metal open box-like tool with a U-shaped handle. The Yooper scooper comes in two sizes and is used at ski resorts across the U.S. and in several other countries. It’s sold online and at hardware stores; check the website.

I shoulda asked Santa for one.

Snow scoops at the ready, Ace Hardware in Newberry

Snow scoops at the ready well before the first snowflakes flew at the Ace Hardware in Newberry