National Geographic : 1952 Mar
Here 100 Frenchmen Built a Fort in 1701 1,850,000 Americans make the city our fifth biggest. among the industries of this diversified State. Michigan sold more than a million fishing licenses in 1951 and about 400,000 permits to hunt deer. Forty cents of every tourist dollar is spent by State residents. Among its natural wonders and resources, Michigan counts antique water-a third of a billion years old. In tunnels of a salt mine, 1,130 feet under south Detroit, I dipped one hand into a tank of soapy-looking liquid. "That's 'fossil' water 300 million years old," my guide prosaically announced. "It's handy for washing cuttings from drill bits." Every now and then probing pick or drill releases a gush of this aged-in-the-salt HRO. The manager of the mine, an International Salt Company property, gave me a transparent cube of salt. In tubelike channels within it, two tiny globules of ancient sea water-gleam ing captives of eternity-slipped back and forth, like bubbles in a carpenter's level. Michigan Could Salt the Whole World Waters of a shallow Silurian sea that eons ago engulfed Michigan left riches in thick salt deposits. Today the State leads all the 48 in salt production. Layers of sooty-white sodium chloride underlie much of the Lower Peninsula. Geologists say Michigan's known salt re serves could supply the entire world's needs for millenniums to come. Humdrum salt is a basic raw material of the fast-expanding chemical industry; rich brine deposits located the huge parent plant of the Dow Chemical Company at Midland, Michigan. Michigan farmers spread salt with fertilizer on sugar beet fields; salt in creases the yield of beets and makes them sweeter! Last summer, on a swing through Michigan, I drove first to dynamic Detroit. Symbol of America's productive capacity, Greater De troit makes 9,000 motor vehicles every 24 hours and, in addition, a swelling volume of defense goods. Its automobiles, trucks, and buses have changed human habits and re shaped the face of the earth.* Detroit's family income surpasses that of any other large city in the world; Detroiters drive more cars, in proportion to population, than any other major United States city except Los Angeles. The Detroit area supports nearly half Michigan's people; her industries and businesses account for 54 percent of the State's income. University's 107th Commencement Not Detroit, however, but the rest of Michigan was my goal on this journey. After a brief visit in the amazing motor city, I set out to explore the great State beyond. Driving west to Ann Arbor, I attended the 107th commencement of world-renowned University of Michigan. To accommodate 3,814 candidates for 47 different degrees, as well as parents, faculty, and friends, Michigan staged the ceremonies in the football stadium, capacity 97,000. The University of Michigan began its career in Detroit. Public-spirited men pushed through * See "Michigan Fights," by Harvey Klemmer, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, December, 1944.