Michigan: Oakland County

Oakland County (pop. 1,202,362) is Michigan’s second-most-populous county. It is one of America’s wealthiest counties with more than one million residents.

The only Oakland County

The southern boundary of Oakland County is 8 Mile Road; in the eastern part of the county, the city of Detroit is on the other side of the road.

The county seat of Oakland County is the city of Pontiac (pop. 59,515). Pontiac reached its peak population of 85,279 in 1970.

Named for Pontiac, Ottawa chief (c. 1720-1769)

General Motors made Pontiac cars in Pontiac starting in 1926; the brand was eliminated in 2010. GM once had six plants in Pontiac.

Woodward Avenue runs 21 miles southeast from downtown Pontiac to downtown Detroit.

The Silverdome in Pontiac was the home of the NFL Detroit Lions from 1975 to 2001 and the NBA Detroit Pistons from 1978 to 1988.

Now abandoned

Amtrak’s “Wolverine” train runs from Pontiac to Chicago via Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Kalamazoo – three times a day in each direction.

6 hours, 20 minutes from Pontiac

The largest city in Oakland County is Troy, which has grown from a population of 19,402 in 1960 to 80,980 in 2010.

Broadway star Sutton Foster grew up in Troy.

The Somerset Collection is an upscale shopping mall in Troy. It has more than 180 stores, including Nordstrom, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue.

The Grand Court

Bloomfield Hills (pop. 3,869) is one of the wealthiest small cities in the U.S.

Cranbrook School, Bloomfield Hills

Farmington Hills (pop. 79,740) is the home of Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, featuring a variety of vintage coin-operated machines.

It opened in 1990.

In Auburn Hills (pop. 21,412), the NBA Detroit Pistons have played since 1988 at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Also popular for concerts

The Detroit Zoo is actually in Oakland County – about two miles north of Detroit.

In both Huntington Woods and Royal Oak


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Michigan: Livingston County

Livingston County (pop. 180,967) is east of Ingham County. It’s one of six Livingston counties in the U.S.

The county was named for Edward Livingston (1764-1836), U.S. secretary of state in the Andrew Jackson administration.

Livingston County has been Michigan’s fastest-growing county for several decades. Its population in 1950 was 26,735. It’s also one of the state’s highest-income counties.

Michigan Challenge Balloonfest, Howell

The county seat of Livingston County is the city of Howell (pop. 9,489).

Livingston County Courthouse (1890)

Howell hosts the annual Howell Melon Festival in August.

The Mt. Brighton ski area, in the southeastern part of the county, opened in 1960. The slopes have a maximum height of 250 vertical feet.

The snow is mostly man-made.

Nearby, the Brighton State Recreation Area is popular for camping, hiking, swimming, and cross-country skiing.

Bishop Lake

At the Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church in Brighton (pop. 7,444) is the “Dine With Jesus”  statue – with 12 empty granite seats around a life-size bronze statue of Jesus.

Installed in 2012

The unincorporated community of Hell is in the southern part of the county.


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Michigan: Ingham County

Ingham County (pop. 280,895) is east of Eaton County. It’s the only Ingham County in the U.S.

Lansing is in the county’s northwestern corner.

Lansing (pop. 114,297) is the state capital and Michigan’s fifth-largest city, but it is not the county seat; Mason (pop. 8,252), near the center of the county, is the county seat.

Courthouse Square, Mason

The Capitol building in Lansing was built in 1878.

Italianate style

The Boji Tower (originally the Olds Tower) has been the tallest building in Lansing since it was built in 1931.

23 stories

The Olds Transportation Museum in Lansing is named for Ransom E. Olds, founder of the Oldsmobile brand. Olds Motor Works began operations in Lansing in 1897.

General Motors bought the company in 1908.

St. Mary Cathedral in Lansing opened in 1913.

Gothic Revival style

The Lansing Lugnuts, Single-A Midwest League affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, play at Cooley Law School Stadium (1996) in downtown Lansing.

Originally called Oldsmobile Park

The city of East Lansing (pop. 48,579), just east of Lansing, is the home of Michigan State University, founded in 1855.

Sparty the Spartan

Earvin “Magic” Johnson, member of the NBA Hall of Fame, grew up in Lansing and played basketball at Michigan State.

Magic Johnson statue on campus

Larry Page, co-founder of Google, grew up in East Lansing. His father was a computer science professor at Michigan State.

A graduate of East Lansing High School


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Michigan: Eaton County

Eaton County (pop. 107,759) is east of Barry County. Portions of the western part of Lansing, the state capital, are in Eaton County.

The county was named for John Eaton (1790-1856), who served as a U.S. senator from Tennessee and secretary of war. He was the youngest senator in U.S. history.

He took the oath of office at age 28.

The county seat of Eaton County is the city of Charlotte (pop. 9,074).

Eaton Theatre (1931)

The old Eaton County Courthouse (1885) in Charlotte is now a museum.

It closed as a courthouse in 1976.

Eaton Rapids (pop. 5,214) is known as “The Island City” because its downtown area is on an island in the Grand River.

Downtown Eaton Rapids

The Edgewater Apartments in Eaton Rapids were formerly a textile mill.

The porch is 715 feet long.

The city of Grand Ledge (pop. 7,786) is known for its 60-foot-high rock ledges of sandstone and quartzite on the Grand River.

Popular for rock-climbing

The city of Olivet (pop. 1,605) is the home of Olivet College, a liberal arts college affiliated with the United Church of Christ.

It was founded in 1859.

The village of Vermontville (pop. 759) has an annual Maple Syrup Festival.

The city of Potterville (pop. 2,617) is the home of Joe’s Gizzard City, known for its deep-fried chicken gizzards.

It opened in 1960.


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Michigan: Barry County

Barry County (pop. 59,173) is east of Allegan County. The only other Barry County is in Missouri.

The county was named for William Taylor Barry (1784-1835), a Kentucky native who was U.S. postmaster general under president Andrew Jackson.

Postmaster from 1829 to 1835

The county seat of Barry County is the city of Hastings (pop. 7,350).

Barry County Courthouse (1894)

Historic Charlton Park, east of Hastings, is a recreated historic village, along the Thornapple River.

It opened in 1936.

The village of Nashville (pop. 1,628) is the home of the Moo-ville Creamery and Petting Zoo.

Famous for its ice cream

The village of Middleville (pop. 3,319) is located between the Middleville State Game Area and the Yankee Springs State Game Area – both well-known areas for deer-hunting.

HIckory Corners is the home of the Gilmore Car Museum, which has more than 300 vehicles on a 90-acre site.

Established in 1966


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Michigan: Allegan County

Allegan County (pop. 111,408) is south of Ottawa County, along Lake Michigan. “Allegan” was a word created by Henry Schoolcraft in the 19th century to sound like an actual Native American word.

Allegan County is traditionally agricultural, but its population has been growing because of its proximity to the urban areas of Grand Rapids to the northeast and Kalamazoo to the southeast.

The Allegan County Fair runs for nine days.

The county seat of Allegan County is the city of Allegan (pop. 4,998).

Downtown Allegan

The Second Street Bridge in Allegan dates from 1886.

Over the Kalamazoo River

The Regent Theatre in Allegan opened in 1919.

Still showing first-run movies

Saugatuck Dunes State Park has two miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and 14 miles of hiking trails.

Day use only

The city of Fennville (pop. 1,398) is the home of Crane’s Pie Pantry, well-known for its pies and its mascot – Betty the Stuffed Sleigh Dog.

The 50,000-acre Allegan State Game Area is a forest that is popular with campers, hunters, and cross-country skiers.

In Saugatuck (pop. 925), the Felt Mansion (1928) now hosts weddings and other special events.

Mr. Felt invented the first office processing machine.

A western Michigan legend refers to “melon heads” – small humanoids with bulbous heads who lived in the vicinity of the Felt Mansion.

There’s a movie.

Saugatuck has a hand-powered chain ferry that takes visitors from downtown to Oval Beach.


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Michigan: Ottawa County

Ottawa County (pop. 263,801) is west of Kent County, along Lake Michigan. It’s one of four Ottawa counties in the U.S.

The county seat of Ottawa County is the city of Grand Haven (pop. 10,412), located at the mouth of the 252-mile-long Grand River.

Grand Haven pier and lighthouses

Grand Haven is well-known for its musical fountain, second-largest in the world after the Bellagio Hotel fountain in Las Vegas.

Grand Haven has a 10-day Coast Guard Festival every summer.

On the Grand River

Grand Haven State Park has a popular beach along Lake Michigan.

48 acres

The largest city in Ottawa County is Holland (pop. 33,051), which has an annual Tulip Time Festival.

Part of Holland is in Allegan County.

The Heinz pickle plant in Holland is reportedly the largest pickle plant in the world.

Hope College in Holland was established by Dutch immigrants in 1851. It has about 3,000 students.

Associated with the Reformed Church in America

The Holland Harbor Light (“Big Red”) is on a channel connecting Lake Michigan with Lake Macatawa, west of Holland.

Built in 1872

Holland State Park is west of Holland, on both Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa. It has more visitors than any other state park in Michigan.

142 acres

Allendale (pop. 17,579) is the home of Grand Valley State University, founded in 1960. It has about 24,000 students.

The mascot is Louis the Laker.

The unincorporated community of Nunica has a replica of Stonehenge, on private property.

Made of Styrofoam


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Michigan: Kent County

Kent County (pop. 602,622) is Michigan’s fourth-most-populous county; the three larger counties are all in the Detroit metropolitan area. It is one of six Kent counties in the U.S.

The county seat of Kent County is Grand Rapids (pop. 188,040), second-largest city in the state.

On the Grand River, the state’s longest river

Grand Rapids has a long history as a center of furniture manufacturing.

Gerald R. Ford (1913-2006) grew up in Grand Rapids, serving as congressman from the area from 1949 to 1973 before becoming vice president of the United States in 1973 and president in 1974. The Ford Presidential Museum is in Grand Rapids.

Ford’s boyhood home

Gerald Ford was the only president who was an Eagle Scout. A statue of Ford as a 14-year-old Scout is in front of the local Boy Scouts office.

The Blue Bridge is a pedestrian bridge across the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids. It was formerly a railroad bridge.

Converted in 1987

The Wealthy Theatre, southeast of downtown on Wealthy Street, is a former vaudeville theater and neighborhood movie house that now hosts a variety of concerts and other events.

Built in 1911

The nine-minute “Grand Rapids Lip Dub,” with Grand Rapids residents lip-synching to Don McLean’s “American Pie,” has been called “the greatest music video ever made.”

The unincorporated community of Comstock Park, just north of Grand Rapids, is the home of the West Michigan Whitecaps, Class-A Midwest League affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.

Fifth Third Ballpark (1994)

The Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, just east of Grand Rapids, opened in 1995. It is the second-most-popular cultural destination in Michigan, with about 600,000 annual visitors.

“The American Horse”

Ada Township, east of Grand Rapids, is the home of Amway, founded in 1959.

The 100-foot Fallasburg Bridge (1871), near the city of Lowell (pop. 3,783), is one of three Michigan covered bridges that are still open to traffic.

On the Flat River


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Michigan: Ionia County

Ionia County (pop. 63,905) is west of Clinton County and east of the city of Grand Rapids. It’s the only Ionia County in the U.S.

The county was named for the ancient region of Greek settlement along the coast of what is now Turkey.

The county seat of Ionia County is the city of Ionia (pop. 11,394).

Ionia County Courthouse (1885)

The restored Ionia Theatre (1931) has movies, concerts, and special events.

The John C. Blanchard House (1885) in Ionia is now open for tours.

Italianate style

The Ionia Community Library is located in the 19th-century Hall-Fowler House.

The annual, 10-day Ionia Free Fair is reputedly the world’s largest free-admission fair.

The city of Belding (pop. 5,757) is the home of the Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library.

Built in 1917

The Belding Museum at the Belrockton is located in a former boarding house, built in 1906 for single female workers at the silk manufacturing plant of Belding Brothers and Company.

Belding was “Silk City of the World.”

The New Era Potato Chip silo is near Portland (pop. 3,883), in the southeastern part of the county.


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Michigan: Clinton County

Clinton County (pop. 75,382) is west of Shiawassee County. It’s one of nine Clinton counties in the U.S. and one of seven named for Dewitt Clinton (1769-1828), the governor of New York who was largely responsible for the construction of the Erie Canal.

The other two were named for his uncle George.

The county seat of Clinton County is the city of St. Johns (pop. 7,865).

St. Johns calls itself “The Mint Capital of the World” because of the many mint farms in the area. The city has an annual Mint Festival in August.

The festival mascot

Sleepy Hollow State Park is southeast of St. Johns. The park was established in 1974.

Lake Ovid

In the village of Ovid (pop. 1,603), the First Congregational Church (1872) is on the National Register of Historic Places. It became a private residence in 1979.

Gothic Revival style

The village of Elsie (pop. 966) has a statue of Elsie the Cow outside the village hall.

Anatomically a bull

The unincorporated community of Bath was the site of the deadliest mass murder at a school in U.S. history. In 1927, Andrew Kehoe set off an explosion at Bath Consolidated School that killed 38 elementary school children.

Six adults also died.


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