The Tallest Structure in Michigan Is an Absurd 1,349-Feet Tall

Written by Thomas Godwin
Updated: August 8, 2023
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Key Points:

  • The WEYI transmission tower near Clio, Michigan is the tallest structure in Michigan.
  • It stands at 1,349 feet tall amid cornfields.
  • It resembles a towering needle against the sky’s blue expanse.

The tallest structure in Michigan is probably not what you think it is. While the tallest building in Detroit, known as the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, is the first thought that comes to mind, it’s far from the tallest structure.

To find the tallest structure in Michigan, you have to head out into the rural countryside on Leelanau Peninsula. Standing amidst the cornfields, stretching 1,349′ into the sky, is a WEYI transmission tower near Clio. It resembles nothing more than a needle, poking at the great blue oasis of the sky.

So, the tallest structure in Michigan is far from a tourist attraction. Other than imagining the horror of climbing the thing, the WEYI transmission tower is little more than a synthetic object, glaringly out of place among sweeping cornfields and red oak, black cherry, yellow birch, and beechwood.

WEYI Transmission Tower Near Clio, Michigan

A WEYI Transmission Tower is probably not what you signed up for when clicking on the article link. Though the effects of such towers are of huge convenience benefits to those within their range, we rarely think about them.

Another important thing to realize, while we’re still near the beginning, is that there is no official record that identifies the WEYI Transmission Tower as the tallest structure in all of Michigan. It’s merely thought to be—at least at the moment. There are a lot of transmission towers in Michigan, after all—none of which are on a list as the absolute tallest.

The tower in question features a new, television upgrade, put in place in the early part of 2018. Though most of us may scoff at something as boring and inconsequential (to us anyway) as a single transmission tower in small-town Michigan, its television upgrade was more of a big deal in Clio and surrounding areas.

Big enough to merit a news report anyway. And, the report was more about being up that high in the sky than about the technological upgrade to the tower. That’s even though the antenna replacement weighs a whopping 4 and 1/4 tons!

A more interesting part of the story involves the old antenna. It quit transmitting back in 1972. Since that year, the non-working antenna remained at the top of the state, with a heck of a view (if it had eyes, that is).

Clio, Michigan is within Vienna Township in Genesee County, Michigan. It’s more of a community than an official city. The area was settled back in 1837, so it’s certainly not a new community, though 2007 is the official date of formation (as a community, not a town or city).

Wildlife Beneath the WEYI-TV Transmission Tower

Wildlife Beneath the WEYI-TV Transmission Tower

Animals in Michigan

©Jay Ondreicka/Shutterstock.com

As the tallest standing structure in Michigan, the WEYI Transmission Tower sees its fair share of animals, especially of the winged variety. Bald eagles, Canadian geese, blue jays, scarlet tanagers, red-winged blackbirds, wood ducks, and ring-billed gulls are just a fraction of the birds that fly near, over, below, and perch on the WEYI tower.

The Leelanau Peninsula is home to a thriving community of animals, including the common snapping turtle, the eastern chipmunk, the North American porcupine, the red fox, white-tail deer, the American mink, the American badger, the bobcat, and the American black bear to name just a few.

There are a lot of lakes in Michigan and the Leelanau Peninsula is no exception. These lakes contain smallmouth bass, European carp, lake sturgeon, northern sunfish, freshwater drum, yellow perch, and more. Wherever there’s water, there are always amphibians and reptiles as well.

Michigan’s reptile and amphibian communities consist of spotted salamanders, Cope’s grey tree frog, green frogs, American toads, common mudpuppies, eastern newts, North American racers, common garter snakes, and red-bellied snakes.

Insects such as bumblebees, Asian lady beetles, monarch butterflies, big-sand tiger beetles, two-striped grasshoppers, and Isabella tiger moths flutter, buzz, and crawl beneath the needle-like shadow of the WEYI-TV Transmission Tower. One thing is certain, the tallest structure in Michigan doesn’t stand alone in a cornfield.

Tallest Building in Michigan

Downtown Detroit from Windsor Ontario

Downtown Detroit from Windsor Ontario

©Ken Lund from Reno, Nevada, USA / CC BY-SA 2.0 – License

When you mention the phrase, “tallest structure in Michigan,” most people think about buildings or mountains first. So, it’s worth mentioning the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center since it’s the tallest building in the state at 723 feet or 73 stories.

While it’s not the Empire State Building, it’s certainly a tall structure and Detroit is a big city. The Chairman of the Ford Motor Company in 1970 was Henry Ford II and he was the driving force behind the inception of the Detroit Renaissance Center, with the Marriott arriving on the scene later.

In 1976, the first phase of the eventual whole, held a grand opening, with other buildings following one after the other. At one point, the Detroit Plaza Hotel became the tallest, ‘all-hotel’ building on the planet, which was pretty extraordinary at the time.

The Detroit Plaza Hotel, reaching completion in 1977, is now the Marriott part of the entire name. There are over a thousand hotel rooms within the cylindrical structure and it features 52 suites. Despite the immense amount of effort, materials, and time that went into the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, it’s still 626′ shorter than the WEYI-TV Transmission Tower in Clio, Michigan.

Of course, there’s no doubting the architectural creativity and the immense level of work that went into the Detroit Marriot. However, it just goes to show that it doesn’t take nearly as much effort to build in terms of height.

Where is The WEYI Transmission Tower Located on a Map?

In the vicinity of Clio, Michigan, the WEYI-NBC 25 Tower (also referred to as the Barrington Broadcasting Flint Tower) potentially claims the title of Michigan’s tallest structure. This remarkable construction serves as both an FM radio and television mast, boasting an impressive height of 1,349 feet.

Here it is on a map:

Final Thoughts on the WEYI-TV Transmission Tower

Though you won’t find the WEYI tower in any official book, listing it as the tallest structure in Michigan, it’s largely agreed that it is just that. If you’re standing on top of it, it probably feels like the tallest standing structure on the entire planet.

The temperature is over 5° cooler that far up. It’s what scientists refer to as the ‘lapse rate.’ While there’s not much else going on around the WEYI tower, it will likely be there for a long time to come. As far as the wildlife that lives around it is concerned, it’s just another part of their vast and colorful world.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Craig Sterken/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Thomas is a freelance writer with an affinity for the great outdoors and Doberman Pinschers. When he's not sitting behind the computer, pounding out stories on black bears and reindeer, he's spending time with his family, two Dobermans (Ares and Athena), and a Ragdoll cat named Heimdal. He also tends his Appleyard Ducks and a variety of overly curious and occasionally vexatious chickens.

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