We go big or go home here in Michigan. Here are 14 world record holders straight from the Mitten—have you seen them all?
MICHIGAN—Many a Michigander will tell you that the Mitten has some of the best sights in the world—and it turns out that the record books agree. Check out these 14 ways Michigan is making its mark in the world.
World’s Longest Freshwater Coastline
In Michigan, at any given time, you are never more than six miles from a body of water. With four out of five of the Great Lakes touching its borders, Michigan boasts a total of 3,288 linear miles of freshwater coastline. In addition to that, Michigan has more than 11,000 inland lakes. That’s a lot of beaches.
World’s Largest Front Porch (Mackinac Island)
Arguably Michigan’s most famous hotel, Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel has been a historic landmark since opening in 1887. Its 660-foot-long front porch is not only an immediately recognizable feature of the Grand Hotel, it’s also the largest front porch in the world. With its impressive length, the Grand Hotel’s front porch is easily visible from many locations on Mackinac Island, including most scenically from a ferry in Lake Huron.
There are also 1,375 geraniums in 147 planting boxes lining the porch. See more pics on the Grand Hotel’s website.
World’s Largest Freshwater Sand Dunes
Beach sand plus wind equals sand dunes. So with Michigan’s plentiful beaches, perhaps it’s no surprise the record-breaking shorelines also have record-breaking sand dunes! Roughly 300,000 acres of them, in fact.
Why do we have dunes?
At the end of the last ice age, glaciers melted across what we now know as the Great Lakes region. They left behind lots of sand, which rivers carried toward the lakes. Waves then packed the sand along the beach, while winds from the west spread the sand along the coast. The process is still continuing today.
World’s Largest Wooden Dome (Marquette)
1401 Presque Isle Ave, Marquette, MI 49855
Marquette’s Superior Dome, also known as the Yooper Dome, is a geodesic dome serving as Northern Michigan University’s stadium. It was built in 1991 using 781 beams made from the wood of Douglas Fir trees—which also happen to be popular with Michiganders for Christmas trees.
The Superior Dome has a diameter of 536 feet and can hold up to 16,000 guests during special events. It was built to withstand Michigan’s harsh winters, and can support up to 60 pounds per square foot of snow, along with 80-mile-per-hour winds.
It’s the home base of the Northern Michigan Wildcats football team, the Wildcat Marching Band, and several other teams at NMU. In 2004, President George Bush held a campaign rally there.
Visit the Northern Michigan University website for more information.
World’s Largest Native American Statue (Ironwood)
Burma Rd, Ironwood, MI 49938
In the furthest reaches of the Upper Peninsula, near the Wisconsin border, you can find quite a unique sight: the world’s largest Native American statue. Or to his friends, Hiawatha.
Hiawatha in Ironwood stands at 52 feet in height and is made of nine tons of fiberglass. The construction was funded by a local Ironwood car dealer. The statue is meant to symbolize unity and peace.
Hiawatha is a relic of the “road art” that existed in the 1950s after the creation of the Interstate Highway System—few of these highway artforms still exist today. In 2019, Hiawatha got a $25,000 makeover which repaired his structures and gave him a fresh coat of paint.
This iconic landmark dating back to 1964 depicts the co-founder of the Iroquois Confederacy, which unified five Indigenous tribes: Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, and Seneca. Hiawatha is a hero of legends dating back to the mid-1100s and he is attributed to both the Onondaga and Mohawk tribes.
Visit Hiawatha’s page on Upper Peninsula Travel for more information.
World’s Largest Working Rifle and World’s Largest Running Chainsaw (Ishpeming)
490 Steel St, Ishpeming, MI 49849
Many Michiganders love hunting, but in this case, Yoopers love hunting so much that they lay claim to the world’s largest working rifle. Its name is “Big Ernie,” and it can be found along with another record holder: the world’s largest chainsaw, “Big Gus.”
Both Big Ernie and Big Gus can be found at Da Yoopers Tourist Trap on US-41 in the Upper Peninsula.
The rifle is 35 feet long and weighs 400 pounds. Legend has it that it can shoot as far as 2.5 miles away.
The chainsaw is 23 feet long and 3,500 pounds. It’s powered by a V-8 engine—something you’d be more likely to find in a Ford Mustang.
Both of these unique pieces were crafted by Moran Iron Works in Onaway.
Visit Da Yoopers Tourist Trap website for more information.
World’s Longest Timber-Towered Suspension Bridge (Boyne Falls)
1 Boyne Mountain Rd, Boyne Falls, MI 49713
As of 2022, SkyBridge Michigan is officially the world’s longest timber-towered suspension bridge, connecting two lofty peaks at the Boyne Mountain Resort.
SkyBridge Michigan is 118 feet off the ground and more than 1,200 feet long, which is two Grand Hotel porches (or over three football fields) in length. In the middle of the bridge, a 36-foot section of see-through glass offers scenic views you can only get in Northern Michigan.
Tickets are $25 per adult for three hours of access to the SkyBridge.
Visit the Boyne Mountain Resort website for more information.
World’s Largest Limestone Quarry (Rogers City)
1035 Calcite Rd, Rogers City, MI 49779
Limestone is a crucial product in a number of manufacturing applications, including cement and fertilizer. And the world’s largest quarry for limestone is found in Rogers City.
The Rogers City quarry, often called the Calcite Quarry, is four miles long and one-and-a-half miles wide. The quarry has been mined for over a century, having first been tapped in 1909 when Rogers City was a small lumbering community. Geologically, the quarry dates back to the Devonian Era—the same time period as Petoskey Stones. It is often called a “man-made Grand Canyon” since it’s more than 150 feet deep. Currently, the quarry is owned by Carmeuse Lime and Stone.
The quarry produces white calcium carbonate, which in Michigan is most often used to make beet sugar.
World’s Largest Pie Pan (Traverse City)
3424 Cass Rd, Traverse City, MI 49684
Today, it’s not uncommon for savvy up north travelers to compare the two Northern Michigan towns of Charlevoix and Traverse City. But only a few decades ago, these two towns duked it out themselves, over one curious record—the world’s biggest pie. And although both towns have lost their record of largest pie, Traverse City still has the largest pie pan.
On July 25, 1987, an estimated 35,000 spectators got their own slice of delicious, record-breaking cherry pie—which weighed in at 28,350 pounds. The pie tin created for this attempt at a world record measures 18 feet wide and 26 inches deep.
But the folks in Charlevoix made their own pie. Even though the Traverse City pie was a whopping 10,000 pounds heavier than the one in Charlevoix, the Charlevoix piemakers argued that it was incomplete, since it lacked a bottom crust. And then, just like a freshly baked pie that drops on the floor, both cities lost the record a few years later to British Columbia.
Traverse City’s pie tin, constructed by Jacklin Steel Supply Company, can still be visited. If you’ve got a preference for the Charlevoix side of the battle, though, their pie pan can be found at 6591 S. US Hwy 31 in Charlevoix.
World’s Largest Christmas Store (Frankenmuth)
25 Christmas Ln, Frankenmuth, MI 48734
Michigan ranks as the third-largest Christmas tree producer in the nation. But if that’s not enough reason for Michiganders to love Christmas, Bronner’s is the gift that keeps on giving. Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland is the largest Christmas store in the world.
The massive Frankenmuth store, where it’s Christmas year ’round, encompasses 2.2 acres and jam packs every square inch with Christmas spirit. It showcases 350 differently themed Christmas trees and displays over 6,000 types of ornaments. More than 2 million visitors make a pilgrimage to Bronner’s every year.
Bronner’s was the passion project of Wally Bronner, an entrepreneur who got his start painting signs and windows. He and his bride, Irene, had a sign shop in 1954 that was half-filled with Christmas decorations. In 1977, they moved to the location where the store stands today, and grew. (And grew.)
Visit the Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland website for more information.
World’s Largest O-Scale Model Railroad (Commerce Charter Township)
8275 Cooley Lake Rd, Commerce Charter Twp, MI 48382
Until the 1960s, the most common model railroad scale in the United States was the O-Scale, which reproduces trains at a 1:48 scale. Though the HO scale (1:87.1 scale) has reached considerably more popularity, the larger O-Scale still has a lot to offer. And the Chi-Town Union Station model is the world’s largest model railroad of the O-Scale variety.
Chi-Town Union Station is a Chicago-inspired model railroad system with more than 12,000 feet of track, running 20 or more trains at any given time. It models five major railroads, including Southern Pacific, New York Central, Baltimore & Ohio, Atchison, Topeka, & Sante Fe, and Denver & Rio Grande Western.
Chi-Town Union Station is also the home of the world’s longest model train. The train is 1,400 pounds, 1,112 feet long, and has 26 locomotives and 1,205 cars.
Adult admission is $6. Visit the Chi-Town Union Station website for more information.
World’s Largest Model Tire (Allen Park)
Detroit Industrial Expressway, Allen Park, MI 48101
As a local landmark to many from the Detroit Metro, the Uniroyal Giant Tire sits next to I-94 in Allen Park. An estimated 100,000 cars drive past the world’s largest model tire daily.
The Uniroyal Giant Tire was originally created for the 1964 New York World’s Fair by the United States Rubber Company. The tire has a diameter of 80 feet and a tire tread of 6 inches. Concrete and steel anchor the tire so it can withstand winds as strong as those from a hurricane.
Originally, for the World’s Fair, the tire was used as a ferris wheel. It had 24 gondolas that could each seat four people. But when the World’s Fair was over, U.S. Rubber couldn’t find anyone who wanted the huge tire-ferris wheel. So the company had to dismantle the tire into 116 sections and ship it back to Michigan in 22 railroad cars. The Uniroyal Giant Tire was reassembled outside of what was, at the time, the U.S. Rubber Company’s Midwest corporate headquarters.
Though the headquarters has moved, the Uniroyal Giant Tire still stands today as a static tribute to Detroit’s auto industry legacy.
World’s Largest Lug Nut (Lansing)
420 E Michigan Ave, Lansing, MI 48933
What the heck does a lug nut do? Well, you know these guys well if you’ve ever had to change a tire. And the world’s largest lug nut is in Michigan, though surprisingly, not affiliated with the world’s largest tire. The world’s largest lug nut has a distinctly Lansing location and history.
Lansing’s huge lug nut is not just a highway-side attraction. It’s located in the heart of downtown Lansing, near the Grand River, the Lansing Center, and the Cooley Law School Stadium. The world’s largest lug nut weighs 5,000 pounds and rests on a modest brick smokestack.
Why was it built? To honor the Lansing Lugnuts, a minor league baseball team. The team plays in Jackson Field at the Cooley Law School Stadium, one of the most handicap-accessible stadiums in the country.
The Lansing Lugnuts were named in the mid-to-late 1990s. The name contributed to their quirky gameday cheer of “Let’s Go Nuts!” And their mascot, an anthropomorphic lug nut, is named “Big Lug.” Lansing residents didn’t immediately take to the name. Possibly in response to those lukewarm reviews, a factory across the street from Jackson Field affixed the world’s largest lug nut to a smokestack, so it would be visible from Jackson Field.
The Lansing Lugnuts are still active today. They even participate annually in a “Crosstown Showdown” with Michigan State University, which usually attracts at least 3,000 spectators.
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