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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Michigan: Shiawassee County

Shiawassee County (pop. 70,648) is west of Genesee County. Its name came from the Shiawassee River, which was derived from a Native American word meaning “river that twists about.” The river flows northward into the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay.

The center of Michigan’s population is in Shiawassee County. This is explained by the fact that so many Michiganders live in the Detroit area, southeast of Shiawassee.

The county seat of Shiawassee County is the city of Corunna (pop. 3,497).

Shiawassee County Courthouse (1904)

The largest city in the county is Owosso (pop. 15,194).

The Owosso Speedway is west of town.

The Curwood Castle in Owosso was built in 1923 by author James Oliver Curwood.

Now a museum

Thomas E. Dewey (1902-1971), governor of New York and Republican nominee for president in 1944, was born and raised in Owosso.

The Steam Railroading Institute is dedicated to the preservation, restoration, and operation of historical railroad equipment. It opened in Owosso in 1983.

Steam excursions are available.

Southeast of Owosso, the city of Durand (pop. 3,446) has a historic Union Station that is used by Amtrak’s “Blue Water,” running between Port Huron and Chicago.

Built in 1903


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Michigan: Genesee County

Genesee County, west of Lapeer County, is Michigan’s fifth-most-populous county, with a population of 425,790. It was named for Genesee County, New York.

The county seat of Genesee County is the city of Flint (pop. 102,434), seventh-largest city in Michigan. Flint reached its peak population of 196,940 in 1960.

Flint is on the Flint River.

General Motors Company was founded in Flint in 1908; the firm’s headquarters moved to Detroit in the 1920s. GM factories in the Flint area employed about 80,000 workers in the 1970s, but they now have fewer than 10,000 employees.

Flint Assembly now produces full-size trucks for GM.

Sit-Downers Memorial Park in Flint commemorates the 1936-37 United Auto Workers’ Flint Sit-Down Strike. After the strike, General Motors recognized the UAW as the workers’ only bargaining agent.

The monument

The Capitol Theatre in downtown Flint is currently being renovated.

It opened in 1928.

The 57-year-old Flint Weather Ball, which changes color when the weather changes, recently was renovated from the traditional letters CB (Citizens Bank) to FM (FirstMerit).

The University of Michigan-Flint, one of two satellite campuses of the university, has about 8,000 students.

Established in 1956

The 19-floor Genesee Towers was the tallest building in Flint from the time it was built in 1968 until it was demolished in 2013. The building sat empty for more than 10 years.

The lower eight floors were a parking garage.

The many well-known athletes from Flint include former Major League pitcher Jim Abbott – the left-hander who was born without a right hand.

He also starred for the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

The blues-rock band Grand Funk Railroad, founded in Flint in 1969, based its name on the Grand Trunk Western Railroad, which ran through Flint.

They were most popular in the ’70s.

The Flint-Beecher Tornado in 1953, just north of Flint, was the deadliest tornado in Michigan history.


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Michigan: Lapeer County

Lapeer County (pop. 88,319) is west of St. Clair County. The name was apparently an Anglicization of the French “la pierre” (the rock).

The county seat of Lapeer County is the city of Lapeer (pop. 8,841).

Downtown Lapeer

The Lapeer County Courthouse, built in 1846, is the oldest original courthouse structure  in Michigan that is still in use.

Greek Revival style

The Piety Hill Historic District in Lapeer has five churches built between 1881 and 1911, including Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary Roman Catholic Church.

The Pix Theatre in Lapeer (1941) now hosts a variety of events. It was restored in 1997.

Streamline Moderne style

Jake Long, the first overall pick in the 2008 National Football League draft, played football, basketball, and baseball at Lapeer East High School before playing his college football at the University of Michigan.

Offensive lineman for St. Louis Rams

Nearby, the village of Almont (pop. 2,674) is known for the giant steer in front of the Country Smoke House.

Gift boxes are available

In the village of Metamora (pop. 565), the Roadside Attractions store has this slogan: “It’s like a museum, but everything is for sale.”


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