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.

NEXT: SHIAWASSEE COUNTY

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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.”

NEXT: GENESEE COUNTY

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Michigan: St. Clair County

St. Clair County (pop. 163,040) borders Lake Huron, the province of Ontario (on the other side of the St. Clair River), and Lake St. Clair. The states of Alabama, Illinois, and Missouri also have St. Clair counties.

The county seat of St. Clair County is the city of Port Huron (pop. 30,184), located at the southern end of Lake Huron. Port Huron is the easternmost point of land in Michigan.

Blue Water Bridge to Canada

The Fort Gratiot Lighthouse has protected the entrance to the St. Clair River since 1829.

Michigan’s oldest lighthouse

Port Huron’s former Grand Trunk Railroad depot (1858) is now the Thomas Edison Depot Museum.

Thomas Edison (1847-1931) grew up in Port Huron. He sold candy and newspapers on trains running between Port Huron and Detroit.

Edison statue in Port Huron

Amtrak’s “Blue Water” train has daily service between Port Huron and Chicago via Flint, East Lansing, and Kalamazoo.

Knowlton’s Ice Museum in Port Huron has American’s largest collection of ice-making equipment and paraphernalia.

Ice wagon from early 1900s

The former Carnegie Library (1904) in Port Huron is now the main building of the Port Huron Museum.

Port Huron is known for the Port Huron Statement, a 1962 manifesto by the Students for a Democratic Society, written in Port Huron at the SDS’s first national convention.

The city of Yale (pop. 1,955), northwest of Port Huron, calls itself “The Bologna Capital of the World.”

The city of St. Clair (pop. 5,485) claims to have the world’s longest freshwater boardwalk.

On the St. Clair River

NEXT: LAPEER COUNTY

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Michigan: Sanilac County

Sanilac County (pop. 43,114) is south of Huron County, on the Thumb of Michigan along Lake Huron.

The county was apparently named for Huron chief Sanilac; it has no connection to the nonfat powdered milk known as Sanalac.

The first instant dry milk

The county seat of Sanilac County is the city of Sandusky (pop. 2,679).

Just east of Sandusky is the Hi-Way Drive-In, one of approximately 10 remaining drive-in theaters in Michigan.

It opened in 1947.

The village of Port Sanilac (pop. 623) is the home of the Port Sanilac Light, built in 1886.

59 feet tall

In the city of Croswell (pop. 2,447), the 139-foot Croswell Swinging Bridge is Michigan’s only pedestrian suspension bridge. The city has a Swinging Bridge Festival every August.

It was built in 1905.

The city of Marlette (pop. 1,875) calls itself “The Heart of the Thumb.”

NEXT: ST. CLAIR COUNTY

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Michigan: Huron County

Huron County (pop. 33,118), on the Thumb of Michigan, has the waters of Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay on three sides. The only other Huron counties are in Ohio and Ontario.

With 90 miles of shoreline, Huron County is popular with summer tourists.

Albert E. Sleeper State Park

The Thumb Fire of 1881 burned more than a million acres in one day, killing 282 people in Huron, Tuscola, Sanilac, and Lapeer counties.

The shaded part did not burn.

The county seat of Huron County is the city of Bad Axe (pop. 3,462), which was named for a badly damaged axe that was found by surveyors at the site where the city was to be built.

The sports teams at Bad Axe High School are known as the Hatchets.

Bad Axe has the nation’s only Bad Axe Theatre; it is still showing first-run movies.

It opened in 1916.

The unincorporated community of Bay Port, on Saginaw Bay, is known for its annual Fish Sandwich Festival, featuring sandwiches so big that “it takes two hands to hold them.”

The price this year is $4.00.

The city of Caseville (pop. 777), the “Perch Capital of Michigan,” has an annual “Cheeseburger in Caseville” festival.

Cheeseburger parade

The city of Harbor Beach (pop. 1,703), on Lake Huron, claims to have the world’s largest man-made freshwater harbor.

Aerial view of Harbor Beach

Huron City  is the home of the Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse (1857).

Now open as a museum

NEXT: SANILAC COUNTY

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Michigan: Tuscola County

Tuscola County (pop. 55,729) is located on the “Thumb” of Michigan, which extends into Lake Huron.

The county seat of Tuscola County is the city of Caro (pop. 4,229).

Tuscola County Courthouse (1933)

Caro got its name as a variation on Cairo, Egypt.

The pyramids of Giza

The Strand Theatre in Caro dates from the 1920s.

Still showing first-run movies

The city of Vassar (pop. 2,697) is the home of the Vassar Theatre, also still in business.

It opened in 1937.

The Pennywick Christmas Tree Farm in Vassar features a giant Santa Claus.

16 feet tall

The village of Millington (pop. 1,072) has a smiley-face water tower.

Agricultural crops in Tuscola County include sugar beets and beans. The village of Fairgrove (pop. 563) hosts the annual Michigan Bean Festival.

NEXT: HURON COUNTY

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Michigan: Saginaw County

Saginaw County (pop. 200,169) is not actually on Saginaw Bay; the northern edge of the county is about 10 miles south of the bay.

The county seat of Saginaw County is the city of Saginaw (pop. 51,508). Lefty Frizzell’s song “Saginaw, Michigan” was number one on the country charts in 1964.

The Saginaw area was a center of manufacturing for the auto industry, with a total of 12 General Motors plants in the 1960s and ’70s. The city reached its peak population of 98,265 in 1960.

Saginaw and Saginaw River

Musician Stevie Wonder was born in Saginaw in 1950, and tennis star Serena Williams was born in Saginaw in 1981.

Born Stevland Hardaway Judkins

The Castle Museum of Saginaw County History was built in 1898 as a U.S. Post Office.

Built in Renaissance style

The eight-story Michigan Bell Building in Saginaw was built in 1930.

Now the AT&T Building

The Hoyt Public Library in Saginaw dates from 1887.

Richardsonian Romanesque style

The Temple Theatre in downtown Saginaw was built by the Elf Khurafeh Shriners in 1927.

“The Showplace of Northeastern Michigan”

The Japanese Cultural Center, Tea House, and Gardens of Saginaw opened in 1971.

In the gardens

The city of Frankenmuth (pop. 4,944) has a variety of Bavarian-themed events, including the World Expo of Beer, Bavarian Festival, and Oktoberfest.

The Frankenmuth Cheese Haus

Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth calls itself “The World’s Largest Christmas Store.” It has more than two million visitors a year.

Founded in 1945

NEXT: TUSCOLA COUNTY

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Michigan: Gratiot County

Gratiot County (pop. 42,476) is east of Montcalm County. Pronounced “GRATCH-it,” it is the only Gratiot County in the U.S.

The county was named for Charles Gratiot (1786-1855), who was the engineer in charge of the 1814 reconstruction of a fort that guarded the mouth of the St. Clair River at Lake Huron.

Gratiot, Ohio, is also named for him.

The county seat of Gratiot County is Ithaca (pop. 2,910), named for Ithaca, New York.

The courthouse (left) dates from 1902.

The largest city in Gratiot County is Alma (pop. 9,383).

Downtown Alma, 1959

Alma calls itself “Scotland, U.S.A.” Its annual Alma Highland Festival is one of the largest Scottish festivals in the Midwest.

May 24-25 this year

Alma College is a private, liberal arts college with about 1,400 students. It was established in 1886.

The school mascot is Scotty.

The Strand Theatre in Alma is now used by the Gratiot County Players.

The theater dates from 1920.

The city of St. Louis (pop. 7,482) calls itself the “Middle of the Mitten” because of its geographical location in Michigan.

St. Louis is also known for its Mini-Mackinac Bridge.

Bradbury Robinson (1884-1949), who threw the first forward pass in the history of American football, practiced medicine in St. Louis and served two terms as mayor.

“Father of the Forward Pass” at St. Louis University, Missouri

The unincorporated community of Elm Hall has the smallest post office in Michigan.

16 feet by 9 feet

NEXT: SAGINAW COUNTY

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Michigan: Montcalm County

Montcalm County (pop. 63,343) was named for General Marquis Louis-Joseph de Moncalm, French military commander of troops in Canada during the French and Indian War.

1712-1759

Montcalm County is shaped something like Nebraska. The county seat, Stanton (pop. 1,417), is near the center of the county.

The largest city in Montcalm County is Greenville (pop. 8,481), which is close enough to Grand Rapids so that commuters can live in Greenville and work in Grand Rapids.

Downtown Greenville

Greenville was known as “The Refrigerator Capital of the World” because of its refrigerator factories. The large Electrolux factory in Greenville closed in 2006.

The Winter Inn is a hotel in downtown Greenville that has been operating since 1902.

14 rooms

The Fighting Falcon Military Museum in Greenville highlights the Fighting Falcon, a World War Two military glider produced by the Gibson Refrigerator Company.

Fighting Falcon in Greenville in 1943

The Fred Meijer Heartland Trail goes 41 miles northeast from Greenville to Alma.

On a former CSX railroad right-of-way

Montcalm County has more than 100 lakes.

Cowden Lake

The unincorporated community of Cedar Lake is well-known for its abandoned two-story outhouse.

NEXT: GRATIOT COUNTY

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Michigan: Muskegon County

Muskegon County (pop. 172,188) is south of Oceana County. The word “Muskegon” comes from an Ojibwa word meaning “swamp.”

The 216-mile Muskegon River (Michigan’s second-longest) flows into Muskegon Lake and then through a one-mile channel into Lake Michigan.

Muskegon Lake on right, Lake Michigan on left

The county seat of Muskegon County is the city of Muskegon (pop. 38,401), the largest city on Lake Michigan’s eastern shore. Muskegon reached its peak population of 48,429 in 1950.

Muskegon Pier Light (1851)

The many well-known people who were born in Muskegon include longtime CBS president Frank Stanton (1908), NFL quarterback Earl Morrall (1934), NBA player and coach Don Nelson (1940), evangelist Jim Bakker (1940), and 1965 Miss America Vonda Kay Van Dyke (1943).

Also singer Iggy Pop (1947)

Silent film star Buster Keaton (1895-1966) spent many summers in Muskegon and considered the city his hometown.

Keaton statue in Muskegon

The homes of 19th-century lumber barons Charles Hackley and Thomas Hume are now open for tours.

Built in Queen Anne style

The Lake Express (2004) is a seasonal car ferry that connects Muskegon with Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It carries 250 passengers and 46 vehicles.

It takes about 2.5 hours.

The S.S. Milwaukee Clipper is a retired passenger steamship and auto ferry that was built in 1904. It is open for tours during summer on the Muskegon waterfront.

Muskegon is considered the “Birthplace of Snowboarding.” Muskegon engineer Sherman Poppen made a rudimentary snowboard for his daughter in 1965 and later licensed the “Snurfer” idea to the Brunswick Corporation, which began selling them.

Mr. Poppen and his Snurfer

Downtown Muskegon had an enclosed shopping mall for 25 years; the Muskegon Mall opened in 1976 and closed in 2001. The mall was torn down, and the area is now being redeveloped.

New traffic circle at Third Street and Western Avenue

The Mona Shores High School choir has an annual show at Muskegon’s Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts, featuring “America’s Tallest Singing Christmas Tree.” About 200 singers stand on the 67-foot steel structure.

Freshmen and singers with acrophobia stand on the stage.

Michigan’s Adventure, north of Muskegon, is Michigan’s largest amusement park. When it opened in 1956, it was known as Deer Park.

Thunderhawk, one of seven roller coasters

NEXT: MONTCALM COUNTY

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Michigan: Oceana County

Oceana County (pop. 26,570) is west of Newaygo County, along Lake Michigan.

The county seat is the city of Hart (pop. 2,126), which apparently got its name because it’s in the “heart” of Oceana County.

Downtown Hart

Hart-Montague Trail State Park is a 22-mile linear park that consists of a bike trail from Hart south to the city of Montague.

On a former railroad line

Oceana County calls itself “The Asparagus Capital of the World” and hosts the National Asparagus Festival every summer. This year’s Asparagus Queen was crowned on May 31.

The parade

Charles Mears State Park, along Lake Michigan, is in the village of Pentwater (pop. 857). The park was owned by Charles Mears until it was donated to the state in 1923.

The park covers 50 acres.

South of Pentwater is the Little Sable Point Light Station (1874).

Now open to the public in summer

The 2,936-acre Silver Lake State Park is well known for its sand dunes; part of the dunes are open for off-road vehicles.

One of four Silver Lake state parks in the U.S.

The village of Rothbury (pop. 432) hosts the annual Rothbury Music Festival, now called the Electric Forest Festival.

About 30,000 attended in 2013.

NEXT: MUSKEGON COUNTY

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Michigan: Newaygo County

Newaygo County (pop. 48,460) is west of Mecosta County. It was named either for an Ojibwe leader or for a Native American word meaning “much water.”

The county has more than 200 lakes. More than half of the county is in Manistee National Forest.

The county seat of Newaygo County is the city of White Cloud (pop. 1,408).

The largest city in Newaygo County is Fremont (pop. 4,081).

Gerber Products Company was founded in Fremont in 1927, and the company still has its headquarters there. The city has an annual Baby Food Festival in July.

The Hardy Dam, on the Muskegon River, is the largest earthen dam in the U.S. east of the Mississippi River.

Built in 1931

Newaygo State Park is on the south side of Hardy Dam Pond.

Camping, fishing, swimming, boating

NEXT: OCEANA COUNTY

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Michigan: Mecosta County

Mecosta County (pop. 42,798) is west of Isabella County. The county was named for Mecosta, a 19th-century Potawatomi chief who was born in the area.

The county has about 85 lakes.

School Section Lake

The county seat of Mecosta County is the city of Big Rapids (pop. 10,601).

Fairman Building (1880), Big Rapids

Big Rapids has a 2.6-mile Riverwalk along the Muskegon River.

Bridge across the Muskegon

Big Rapids is the home of Ferris State University, which was founded in 1884 by Woodbridge Nathan Ferris as Big Rapids Industrial School. The state took over the school in 1950.

It has about 14,000 students.

Ferris State is the home of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia.

Founded in 2012

Clint Hurdle, manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, was born in Big Rapids in 1957.

His family moved to Florida when he was 4 years old.

NEXT: NEWAYGO COUNTY

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Michigan: Isabella County

Isabella County (pop. 70,311) was named for Queen Isabella I of Castille (1451-1504), who financed Christopher Columbus’s 1492 voyage to the Americas.

The only Isabella County

The county seat of Isabella County is Mount Pleasant (pop. 26,016).

Part of Mount Pleasant is on the Isabella Indian Reservation of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Council.

The Soaring Eagle Casino is east of Mount Pleasant.

The Michigan Condensed Milk Factory (1908) in Mount Pleasant is now used for city offices.

It was owned by the Borden family.

Oil-drilling was an important part of Mount Pleasant’s economy beginning in 1928. The high school’s sports teams are known as the Oilers.

Mount Pleasant is the home of Central Michigan University, a public research university established in 1892. It has about 28,000 students.

Third-largest university in Michigan

The village of Shepherd (pop. 1,515) has an annual Maple Syrup Festival in late April. The festival began in 1958.

NEXT: MECOSTA COUNTY

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Michigan: Midland County

Midland County (pop. 83,629) got its name because of its proximity to the center of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. The only other Midland County is in Texas.

The county seat of Midland County is the city of Midland (pop. 41,863). The courthouse is in Tudor Revival style.

Built in 1926

Dow Chemical Co. was founded in Midland in 1897; the company still has its headquarters in Midland.

Founded by Herbert Henry Dow

The Dow Gardens, a 110-acre botanical garden in Midland, was begun by Herbert Dow in 1899.

Open to the public

Adjacent to the Dow Gardens is the Alden Dow House and Studio (1940), designed by architect Alden Dow, son of Herbert Dow.

Also open for tours

The Dow Diamond (2007) in Midland is the home of the Great Lakes Loons, Single-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In the Midwest League

The Tridge is a three-way wooden footbridge that spans the confluences of the Chippewa and Tittabawassee rivers in Midland. Each spoke is 180 feet long and eight feet wide.

It opened in 1981.

Cartoonist Cathy Guisewite grew up in Midland and graduated from Midland High School.

NEXT: ISABELLA COUNTY

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Michigan: Bay County

Bay County (pop. 107,771) is on Saginaw Bay. The only other Bay County is in Florida.

The county seat of Bay County is Bay City (pop. 34,932). Bay City reached its peak population of 53,604 in 1960.

Bay City City Hall (1897)

Bay City is bisected by the Saginaw River, which flows into Saginaw Bay. The city has four drawbridges over the river.

Veterans Memorial Bridge

The State Theatre in Bay City dates from 1908.

Concerts, plays, and movies

Madonna Louise Ciccone was born in Bay City in 1958.

She was raised near Detroit.

The Bay City Rollers were actually from Scotland, but they named themselves after Bay City, Michigan.

Rollermania was at its peak in the mid-’70s.

The Saginaw River Rear Range Light is between Bay City and Saginaw Bay.

Built in 1876

The Sage Library in Bay City was built in 1884. It was a gift of Henry W. Sage of Ithaca, New York.

Still in use as a library

The Pere Marquette Railroad Depot was built in 1904 and restored and reopened in 2008.

It sat empty for 39 years.

The unincorporated community of University Center, southwest of Bay City, is the home of Saginaw Valley State University (1963), which has about 10,000 students.

Michigan’s newest public university

The city of Pinconning (pop. 1,307) calls itself “The Cheese Capital of Michigan.” Pinconning cheese, an aged Colby cheese, was first made in 1915 in Pinconning.

Giant mouse outside Wilson’s Cheese Shoppe

NEXT: MIDLAND COUNTY

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Michigan: Arenac County

Arenac County (pop. 17,269) is east of Gladwin County on Saginaw Bay, an arm of Lake Huron.

The county seat of Arenac County is the city of Standish (pop. 1,509).

Michigan Central Railroad Standish Depot (1889)

U.S. Highway 23 from Standish north to Mackinaw City is known as the Sunrise Side Coastal Highway because the sun rises over Lake Huron.

The Standish Maximum Correctional Facility was a state prison that opened in 1990 and closed in 2009.

Closed because of budget cuts

The Saganing Eagles Landing Casino, southeast of Standish, opened in 2007.

Owned by the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Council

Omer (pop. 303) is the second-smallest incorporated city in Michigan.

Lake Angelus (pop. 290) is now smaller.

Arenac County’s second courthouse (1890-92) is in Omer. It is now owned by the Arenac County Historical Society.

It was a Masonic hall for many years.

The city of Au Gres (pop. 889) has seasonal ferries to Charity Island, located 10 miles away in Saginaw Bay.

NEXT: BAY COUNTY

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Michigan: Gladwin County

Gladwin County (pop. 25,692) is east of Clare County. It’s the only Gladwin County in the U.S.

The county was named for Major General Henry Gladwin (1730-1791), British commander at the Siege of Fort Detroit during Pontiac’s Rebellion in 1763.

Portrait at Detroit Institute of Arts

The county seat of Gladwin County is the city of Gladwin (pop. 2,933), located on one of Michigan’s three Cedar rivers.

Gladwin was the birthplace (in 1950) of Debbie Stabenow, Michigan’s junior U.S. senator.

Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee

The city of Beaverton (pop. 1,071) is south of Gladwin. The sports teams at Beavertown High School are called the Beavers.

The Gem Theater in Beaverton has been in operation since 1940.

302 seats

Beaverton is known as “The Plastic Thermoforming Capital of the World” because of its Dow Chemical plant.

Plastic packaging

NEXT: ARENAC COUNTY

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Michigan: Clare County

Clare County (pop. 30,926) is east of Osceola County. It’s the only Clare County in the U.S.

Clare County is about halfway between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and about halfway between Indiana and the Upper Peninsula.

It was named for County Clare, on the west coast of Ireland.

Cliffs of Mohar, County Clare

The county seat of Clare County is the city of Harrison (pop. 2,114). It was named for President William Henry Harrison (1773-1841).

He died one month after taking office.

Harrison (the city) has 20 lakes within a 20-minute drive.

Harrison and Budd Lake

The Frostbite Open Golf Tournament is held on Budd Lake.

The main campus of Mid Michigan Community College is in Harrison.

The city of Clare (pop. 3,118) is on the southern border of the county. The Ideal Theatre in Clare is still showing movies.

Built in 1930

The Clare Congregational Church is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Built in 1909

NEXT: GLADWIN COUNTY

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Michigan: Osceola County

Osceola County (pop. 23,528) was named for Osceola (1804-1838), leader of the Seminole Indians in Florida. He was born as Billy Powell, of mixed Creek, Scots-Irish, and English ancestry.

Florida and Iowa also have Osceola counties.

The 216-mile-long Muskegon River flows through Osceola County in a southwesterly direction on its way to Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan.

The county seat of Osceola County is Reed City (pop. 2,425), located at the crossroads of U.S. Highways 10 and 131. Highway 10 crosses Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota – interrupted by Lake Michigan.

“Little Mac” swinging bridge over Hersey River, Reed City

Reed City is also at the intersection of two “rails-to-trails” trails: the north-south White Pine Trail and the east-west Pere Marquette Trail.

The White Pine Trail is 92 miles long.

George Bennard (1873-1958), composer of the hymn “The Old Rugged Cross,” retired in Reed City, which now has a small museum on his life and work.

He is buried in Inglewood, California.

The city of Evart (pop. 1,903) has two major cultural events each year: the Bob Holihan Annual Shuffleboard Tournament and the ODPC Funfest – “The World’s Largest Hammered Dulcimer Gathering.”

Dulcimers and players at the 1980 Funfest

NEXT: CLARE COUNTY

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Michigan: Lake County

Lake County (pop. 11,539) is east of Mason County. It’s one of 12 Lake counties in the U.S.

Lake County has about 80 lakes – many of them popular for fishing and boating.

The county seat of Lake County is the village of Baldwin (pop. 1,208).

Lake County Courthouse

Annual events in Baldwin include the Troutarama, which started in 1957, and the Blessing of the Bikes Festival, which started in 1972.

Thousands attend the Blessing of the Bikes.

Just south of Baldwin is the Shrine of the Pines, which has about 200 pieces of furniture that were hand-carved from eastern white pine by Raymond W. Overholzer.

Overholzer and friends built a cabin as a gallery space.

In the southeastern part of Lake County is Idlewild Historic District. From 1912 until the mid-1960s, it was a major resort area for African-Americans from throughout the Midwest – at a time when other resorts were off-limits to them.

As many as 25,000 people would visit in the summer.

NEXT: OSCEOLA COUNTY

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Michigan: Mason County

Mason County (pop. 28.705), south of Manistee County, is one of six Mason counties in the U.S. The others are in Illinois, Kentucky, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia.

It’s the only Mason County named for Stevens T. Mason (1811-1843), the first governor of the state of Michigan. Mason (elected at age 23) was the youngest state governor in U.S. history.

The county seat of Mason County is Ludington (pop. 8,076). Ludington reached its peak population of 9,506 in 1950.

Mason County Courthouse (1894)

Ludington is located on Lake Michigan, at the mouth of the 64-mile-long Pere Marquette River.

Aerial view of Ludington Harbor and Pere Marquette Lake

The coal-burning car ferry S.S. Badger has been making daily trips across Lake Michigan from Ludington since 1953.

60 miles to Manitowoc, Wisconsin

The Big Sable Point Light Station (1867) is in Ludington State Park, just north of the city.

112 feet tall

Father Jacques Marquette (1637-1675), the Jesuit missionary and explorer, died in the Ludington area. He is honored by a shrine in Ludington.

He was buried in St. Ignace.

The Ludington Mariners Old Time Base Ball Team plays occasional exhibitions, using the early rules of baseball.

Uniforms in the style of the 1860s

The Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness, in Manistee National Forest north of Ludington, has four miles of roadless, undeveloped shoreline on Lake Michigan.

A 3,450-acre wilderness area

The city of Scottville (pop. 1,214) is the home of the Scottville Clown Band, which performs at many parades and other events around Michigan every summer.

The band was formed in 1903.

NEXT: LAKE COUNTY

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Michigan: Manistee County

Manistee County (pop. 24,733) is west of Wexford County, along Lake Michigan. It’s the only Manistee County in the U.S.

The word “Manistee” was apparently derived from an Ojibwe word meaning “river with islands at its mouth.”

Kayaking on Manistee River

The county seat is the city of Manistee (pop. 6,226), located where the Manistee River flows into Lake Michigan.

Orchard Beach State Park is just north of Manistee.

Camping along Lake Michigan

The Vogue Theatre, in the Art Deco style, opened in Manistee in 1938.

Recently reopened

The Ramsdell Theater in Manistee was built in 1903.

Now home of the Manistee Civic Players

The S. S. City of Milwaukee, built in 1931, is a former railroad car ferry that crossed Lake Michigan between Muskegon and Milwaukee. It is now a museum on the Manistee waterfront.

It was the last railroad car ferry on Lake Michigan.

The Manistee Pierhead Light dates from 1927.

39 feet tall

The Manistee Iron Works building (1907) is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Recently used for movie production

The village of Bear Lake (pop. 286), northeast of Manistee, is well-known for the yellow cement dinosaur at the Kampville RV Park.

The village of Kaleva (pop. 470) has a four-foot-high grasshopper sculpture, in honor of St. Urho – the mythical Finnish-American Catholic saint.

Made of recycled scrap metal

NEXT: MASON COUNTY

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Michigan: Wexford County

Wexford County (pop. 32,735) is in the geographic center of Michigan. It’s the only Wexford County in the U.S.

The county was named for County Wexford, in the southeastern corner of Ireland.

Ireland’s “Sunshine Coast”

The county seat of Wexford County is the city of Cadillac (pop. 10,355).

Cadillac was named for Antoine Laumet de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac (1658-1730),a French explorer of New France.

Cadillac is a municipality in southwestern France.

The Carnegie Library in Cadillac (1906) is now the Wexford County Historical Society and Museum.

It was a library until 1969.

The Old City Hall in Cadillac (1901) is now used for commercial offices. A new City Hall opened in 1977.

Richardsonian Romanesque style

Cadillac is on Lake Cadillac, which has about eight miles of shoreline.

It flows into the Clam River.

The annual North American Snow Festival features snowmobile races on Lake Cadillac.

There’s also an ice-fishing tournament.

Caberfae Peaks, west of Cadillac, is one of America’s oldest downhill ski areas. It opened in 1938 with a lodge built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Vertical drop of 485 feet

In 1975, KISS played at the Cadillac High School homecoming dance. The next morning, the band attended a civic breakfast with the mayor and city council.

You can look it up.

NEXT: MANISTEE COUNTY

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Michigan: Missaukee County

Missaukee County (pop. 14,849) was named for Ottawa chief Nesaukee. It’s the only Missaukee County in the U.S.

The county is known for its dairy farms, Christmas tree farms, fishing, hunting, and snowmobiling.

Lake City (pop. 836), Michigan’s fifth-smallest county seat, is known as “The Christmas Tree Capital.”

Lake City is on Lake Missaukee.

McBain (pop. 656) is the second-largest city in Missaukee County.

McBain is the home of the Wayside Chapel, which seats 4-6 people.

The parking lot is surprisingly large.

NEXT: WEXFORD COUNTY

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Michigan: Roscommon County

Roscommon County (pop. 24,449), west of Ogemaw County, was named for County Roscommon, Ireland.

Castle Island, Roscommon, Ireland

The county seat of Roscommon County is the village of Roscommon (pop. 1,075).

The South Branch of the Au Sable River, which flows through Roscommon, is popular for canoeing and kayaking.

The annual Firemen’s Memorial Festival has been held in Roscommon since 1979.

Houghton Lake is Michigan’s largest inland lake, with about 30 miles of shoreline.

An important summer resort area

Tip-Up Town USA, held every January on Houghton Lake, is Michigan’s largest winter festival.

A celebration of ice-fishing and much more

Higgins Lake, with 21 miles of shoreline, is Michigan’s 10th-largest inland lake.

It has two state parks: North Higgins Lake and South Higgins Lake.

Forest Dunes Golf Club, east of Roscommon, has been rated among the best public courses in the U.S.

Designed by Tom Weiskopf

NEXT: MISSAUKEE COUNTY

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Michigan: Ogemaw County

Ogemaw County (pop. 21,699) is west of Iosco County. It’s the only Ogemaw County in the U.S.

“Ogemaw” was apparently derived from the Ojibwe word for “chief.”

The county has about 89 lakes, the largest of which is 785-acre Sage Lake.

The county seat of Ogemaw County is the city of West Branch (pop. 2,139).

West Branch water tower

Just west of West Branch are twin 18-hole golf courses called “The Dream” and “The Nightmare.”

“The Dream”

The Rifle River State Recreation Area is a wilderness area within the Au Sable State Forest. The area was formerly a private fishing and hunting estate owned by Harry M. Jewett, president of the Paige-Detroit Motor Car Company.

More than 4,000 acres

NEXT: ROSCOMMON COUNTY

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Michigan: Iosco County

Iosco County (pop. 25,887) is on Lake Huron, south of Alcona County.

The county seat of Iosco County is Tawas City (pop. 1,827), which is known for its collection of statues of cartoon characters.

SpongeBob

The nearby city of East Tawas (pop. 2,808) is the home of the 70-foot-tall Tawas Point Light Station.

Built in 1876

The lighthouse is within Tawas Point State Park – “The Cape Cod of the Midwest.”

At the end of the sand spit that forms Tawas Bay

The Family Theatre in East Tawas is about 70 years old.

Still showing first-run movies

The unincorporated community of Oscoda is the home of the 14-foot Lumberman’s Monument (1931).

A Forest Service visitor center is open in summer.

The state of Michigan has declared Oscoda as the official birthplace of Paul Bunyan.

Paul Bunyan statue, Oscoda

From 1923 to 1993, a U.S. air base was just northwest of Oscoda; it was named Wurtsmith Air Force Base beginning in 1953. Today it has a public airport and a variety of other tenants, including Alpena Community College.

The 379th Bomb Wing was there.

The 22-mile River Road National Scenic Byway runs along the Au Sable River, ending in Oscoda.

Established in 2005

In the city of Whittemore (pop. 384), the quarter-mile Whittemore Speedway has hosted summer races since 1948.

Michigan’s oldest operating speedway

NEXT: OGEMAW COUNTY

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Michigan: Alcona County

Alcona County (pop. 10,942) is on Lake Huron, east of Oscoda County. Alcona is Michigan’s first county (alphabetically).

The county flag

Alcona is one of Michigan’s ten county names invented by Henry Schoolcraft to sound like Indian words. The others are Allegan, Alpena, Arenac, Iosco, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Lenawee, Oscoda, and Tuscola.

The county seat of Alcona County is Harrisville, third-smallest county seat in Michigan with a population of 493.

Sunrise on Lake Huron, Harrisville

Harrisville was the hometown of Hall of Fame baseball player Hazen Shirley “Kiki” Cuyler (1898-1950).

Lifetime .321 average

Harrisville’s Detroit and Mackinac Railway depot, built in 1901, is still standing.

Built of cut stone

Harrisville State Park, along Lake Huron, was established in 1921.

Popular for camping

The Sturgeon Point Light Station, built in 1869 in Cape Cod style, is north of Harrisville.

Open to the public in summer

Hubbard Lake, one of Michigan’s largest inland lakes, is popular for fishing both summer and winter.

Hubbard Lake in autumn

The unincorporated community of Curran has an annual Black Bear Festival.

NEXT: IOSCO COUNTY

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Michigan: Oscoda County

Oscoda County (pop. 8,640) is east of Crawford County. It’s the only Oscoda County in the U.S.

The word “Oscoda” was a neologism created by Henry Schoolcraft, apparently from the Ojibwa words “ossin” (stone) and “muskoda” (prairie).

The community of Oscoda is in nearby Iosco County, not Oscoda County.

The county seat of Oscoda County is the unincorporated community of Mio (pop. 1,826). It was named for an early settler named Marla Deyarmond, whose nickname was “Aunt Mioe.”

The wood-frame courthouse is in Classical Revival style.

Mio is in the Au Sable River Valley. The river flows into Lake Huron.

A “blue-ribbon” trout stream

The unincorporated community of Fairview calls itself “The Wild Turkey Capital of Michigan.”

Hunting season is in April and May.

Fairview is also the home of the Au Sable Valley Railroad.

Open on summer weekends

NEXT: ALCONA COUNTY

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Michigan: Crawford County

Crawford County (pop. 14,074) is in the middle of Northern Michigan, about halfway between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. It is one of 11 Crawford counties in the U.S.

There are three different people for whom Crawford counties have been named; this one was named for Col. William Crawford (1732-1782), a soldier and surveyor who was tortured and burned at the stake during an Army expedition against Indian villages in Ohio.

Crawford’s execution

Camp Grayling, the largest National Guard training site in the U.S., is primarily in Crawford County.

Founded in 1913

The county seat of Crawford County is the city of Grayling (pop. 1,884), named for a species of fish that was found in the area.

The Grayling Fish Hatchery was founded in 1914.

The Rialto Theater in Grayling dates from 1930.

Art Deco style

The Bottle-Cap Museum is inside Dawson and Stevens Classic 50′s Diner in downtown Grayling.

Lots of Coca Cola memorabilia

The Crawford County Historical Museum is in the Grayling Railroad Depot.

Built in 1882

Grayling calls itself “The Canoe Capital of the World.” The annual 120-mile Au Sable River International Canoe Marathon goes from Grayling to Oscoda.

Canoers paddle nonstop through the night.

The Hanson Hills Recreation Area has downhill and cross-country skiing.

Mountain biking in summer

Hartwick Pines State Park, north of Grayling, is Michigan’s fifth-largest state park. It has an old-growth forest of white pines and red pines.

NEXT: OSCODA COUNTY

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Michigan: Kalkaska County

Kalkaska County (pop. 17,153) is east of Grand Traverse County. It’s the only Kalkaska County in the U.S.

Kalkaska County has about 80 lakes – many of them popular for fishing.

Little Twin Lake

The “National Trout Memorial” is in the village of Kalkaska (pop. 2.020), the county seat.

Centerpiece for a fountain since 1966

Much of downtown Kalkaska burned down in fires in 1908, 1910, and 1925.

The 1908 fire

Kalkaska is the home of the National Trout Festival every April. The festival started in 1936.

Kalkaska also has an annual off-road bicycle race in November called the Iceman Cometh Challenge.

29 miles to Traverse City

“Kalkaska sand” is the state soil of Michigan.

NEXT: CRAWFORD COUNTY

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Michigan: Grand Traverse County

Grand Traverse County (pop. 86,986) is at the southern end of Grand Traverse Bay.

The county’s name was derived from a French phrase meaning “long crossing,” which referred to the water crossing of the mouth of Grand Traverse Bay along Lake Michigan.

The 17-mile-long Old Mission Peninsula separates the bay’s West Arm and East Arm.

The Old Mission Peninsula has eight wineries. The Old Mission Point Lighthouse is at the northern tip of the peninsula.

Built in 1870, deactivated in 1933

The county seat of Grand Traverse County is Traverse City (pop. 14,674), largest city in the 21-county “Northern Michigan” region (which does not include the Upper Peninsula).

On many lists of America’s best small towns

Traverse City is well-known for the National Cherry Festival, which draws about 500,000 visitors during eight days in July.

The festival began in 1926.

The renovated State Theatre (1949) in downtown Traverse City is the home of the annual Traverse City Film Festival, co-founded by Michael Moore in 2005.

The theater shows movies all year.

The 710-seat City Opera House in Traverse City was built in 1891 and restored 1985-2005.

It hosts a variety of concerts.

Traverse City is the home of “The World’s Largest Cherry Pie Pan” – about 50 miles from the previous record-holder in the city of Charlevoix.

A pan in Canada also held the record for a time.

The former Traverse City State Hospital (originally the Northern Michigan Asylum, built in 1881) is now The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, a residential and commercial development.

The last remaining Kirkbride building in Michigan

The Interlochen Center for the Arts, nationally known for education in the arts, is southwest of Traverse City. Its Interlochen Arts Camp was founded in 1928 as the National Music Camp.

NEXT: KALKASKA COUNTY

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Michigan: Benzie County

Benzie County (pop. 17,525) is south of Leelanau County. It’s the only Benzie County in the U.S.

The county has 60 miles of Lake Michigan coastline and 57 inland lakes.

And part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore

The county’s largest lake is eight-mile-long Crystal Lake, located just inland from Lake Michigan.

Known for its clear water

The county seat of Benzie County is the village of Beulah (pop. 342), second-smallest county seat in Michigan.

Benzie County’s first courthouse was originally built as a hotel in 1912; it was converted into a courthouse in 1916 and served in that role until 1976.

A new courthouse was built in the 1970s.

The Cherry Hut in Beulah has been a popular stop for visitors since 1937. It is well-known for its cherry pies and other cherry products.

It started as a roadside pie stand in 1922.

The village of Honor (pop. 328) is the home of the Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theater – the only remaining drive-in in northern Michigan.

It opened in 1953.

Frankfort (pop. 1,286), on Lake Michigan, is the largest city in Benzie County.

Frankfort North Breakwater Lighthouse (1912)

The Frankfort Land Company House (1867) is now the Stonewall Inn Bed and Breakfast.

Built in the Italianate style

NEXT: GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY

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Michigan: Leelanau County

Leelanau County (pop. 21,708), located on Lake Michigan, is known for its cherry orchards. It is Michigan’s number-one producer of cherries.

Cherries in bloom

The county also has about 20 wineries. Local varietals include Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.

Leelanau County is on the 30-mile-long Leelanau Peninsula, between Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay.

The county’s name (pronounced “LEE-lan-awe”)  is among many faux-Indian names invented by Henry Schoolcraft in the 19th century.

The Grand Traverse Lighthouse (1858) is at the northern tip of the Leelanau Peninsula.

In Leelanau State Park

Lake Leelanau extends 21 miles north-south through the county.

About 1.5 miles wide at its widest

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, created in 1973, covers 35 miles of Lake Michigan coastline.

There are many campgrounds in the area.

Glen Lake, just inland from the dunes, is known for its clear, blue water. The lake is popular for boating, fishing, and swimming.

Actually two bodies of water separated by a narrow channel

North and South Manitou Islands are part of the National Lakeshore. Ferry service is available.

North Manitou Island

From 1883 to 2008, the unincorporated community of Leland was the county seat of Leelanau County. In 2008, the county seat was moved to Suttons Bay Township (pop. 2,982).

The new courthouse

The only movie theater in the county is the Bay Theatre in the village of Suttons Bay (pop. 618). It opened in 1946.

271 seats

The Fountain Point Resort, on Lake Leelanau, dates from 1889.

Famous for its fountain of artesian spring water

Glen Arbor Township  (pop 788) is the home of the “Olympic-size cherry-pit-spitting arena.”

NEXT: BENZIE COUNTY

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Michigan: Antrim County

Antrim County (pop. 23,580) is south of Charlevoix County, along Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay.

It was named for County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Dunluce Castle Tower

The 19-mile-long Torch Lake is Michigan’s longest inland lake. It is separated by narrow strips of land from Grand Traverse Bay in the northwest and Elk Lake in the southwest.

Popular for fishing

YMCA Camp Hayo-Went-Ha, on the east side of the lake, is reportedly the oldest American summer camp that is located on its original site.

The camp dates from 1904.

The county seat of Antrim County is the village of Bellaire (pop. 1,086).

The Courthouse was built in 1904.

The Henry Richardi House in Bellaire is now the Grand Victorian Bed and Breakfast.

Built in 1895

The village of Elk Rapids (pop. 1,642), located between Elk Lake and Grand Traverse Bay, has a 15-foot swan statue in front of the Chamber of Commerce.

It carried Miss Elk Rapids in a float in 1966.

At Kewadin, northeast of Elk Rapids, is a rock pyramid honoring Hugh J. Gray, “Dean of Michigan’s Tourist Activity.” It is built with rocks from each of Michigan’s 83 counties.

Erected in 1938

In the eastern part of Antrim County is Deadman’s Hill Scenic Overlook, where the land drops 400 feet to the Jordan River Valley below.

A popular area for hiking

NEXT: LEELANAU COUNTY

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Michigan: Charlevoix County

Charlevoix County (pop. 25,949) is on Lake Michigan. Its county seat, the city of Charlevoix (pop. 2,513), is between Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan.

From left: Lake Michigan, Round Lake, Lake Charlevoix

It is the only Charlevoix (char-le-VOY) County in the U.S.

The city of Charlevoix has been a summer resort area since the late 19th century.

Drawbridge over Pine River Channel, Charlevoix

The city, county, and lake were named for Pierre Francois Xavier de Charlevoix (1682-1761), a Jesuit traveler and historian.

He was on Lake Michigan in 1720.

Lake Charlevoix is the third-largest lake located entirely in Michigan.

The four-car Ironton Ferry, on the South Arm of Lake Charlevoix, saves drivers about 18 miles between Ironton and Boyne City.

Beaver Island (pop. 365), the largest island in Lake Michigan, is in Charlevoix County and reached by auto ferry from Charlevoix.

About 30 miles from Charlevoix

Fisherman’s Island State Park, just south of Charlevoix, has five miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan.

Three miles of hiking trails

Charlevoix is the home of the former World’s Largest Cherry Pie Tin.

Now only third-largest

NEXT: ANTRIM COUNTY

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Michigan: Otsego County

Otsego County (pop. 24,164) is west of Montmorency County. “Otsego” is a Native American word meaning either “place of the rock,” “clear water,” or “meeting place.”

Or it may have been invented by Henry Schoolcraft

The only other Otsego County is in New York – where the county seat is Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.)

The county seat of Otsego County, Michigan, is the city of Gaylord (pop. 3,645). Downtown Gaylord has an “Alpine village” architectural theme.

Gaylord has had a summer Alpenfest since 1965.

Gaylord is the home of the Call of the Wild Museum and Gift Shop, established in 1965.

Timber wolf exhibit

East of Gaylord is the Treetops Resort. Its ski area has three lifts and 23 runs.

In warmer months, Treetop is a popular golf resort, with a total of 81 holes.

Five separate courses

Otsego County has about 100 lakes; the largest is Otsego Lake, south of Gaylord.

Otsego Lake State Park

NEXT: CHARLEVOIX COUNTY

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Michigan: Montmorency County

Montmorency County (pop. 9,765) is west of Alpena County. The sparsely settled county has no stoplights.

The county seat of Montmorency County is the unincorporated community of Atlanta (pop. 827), the fourth-smallest county seat in Michigan. It was named for Atlanta, Georgia.

Atlanta in 1949

Atlanta is known as “The Elk Capital of Michigan.” The state’s elk-hunting season is in August-September and in December.

Atlanta has an annual Elk Pole Contest.

Montmorency County is the home of the annual Sno*Drift rally race, which goes over snow-covered gravel roads in January. It is the season’s first race in the Rally America National Rally Championship.

Clear Lake State Park is north of Atlanta. It is popular for boating and fishing in summer and cross-country skiing in winter.

Elk are often visible in the park.

NEXT: OTSEGO COUNTY

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Michigan: Alpena County

Alpena County (pop. 29,598) is along the shore of Lake Huron, south of Presque Isle County. “Alpena” is a pseudo-Native American word invented by Henry Schoolcraft, Indian agent at Sault Ste. Marie.

The city of Alpena (pop. 29,598), the county seat, is at the mouth of the Thunder Bay River on Thunder Bay. It is the largest city in the northeastern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

Alpena Community College, with about 2,000 students, is the home of a statue of Paul Bunyan made of automobile parts.

Built in the ’60s from Kaiser car parts

The Alpena County Courthouse was built in 1934 in the Art Deco style.

The previous courthouse was destroyed by fire.

The Alpena Light is at the entrance to the Thunder Bay River.

Built in 1914

The unincorporated community of Ossineke (pop. 938) is the home of the Dinosaur Gardens Prehistoric Zoo.

Open summer only

The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve, in Lake Huron, protects the sites of about 116 shipwrecks in the area.

The Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena has displays about Lake Huron shipwrecks.

Open all year and free

NEXT: MONTMORENCY COUNTY

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Michigan: Presque Isle County

Presque Isle County (pop. 13,376) is along Lake Huron, east of Cheboygan County.

That’s not really Lake Michigan.

Presque Isle (“presk-EEL”) means “almost an island” in French. The county got its name from the area between Grand Lake and Lake Huron, which has narrow strips of land connecting it to the mainland at both ends.

The seven-mile-long Grand Lake is popular for fishing.

The county seat of Presque Isle County is Rogers City (pop. 2,827), historically an important port on Lake Huron.

“The Nautical City”

Rogers City has the world’s largest open-pit limestone quarry; it is operated by Michigan Limestone and Chemical Company.

Production began in 1912.

West of Rogers City is Onaway, “The Sturgeon Capital of Michigan.” In the Onaway area are large metal busts of Presidents Washington, Lincoln, and Ford.

George Washington, along Highway 33-68

Onaway built a courthouse building in 1908 in hopes of becoming the county seat. The building now houses city offices and a library.

Also the Onaway Historical Museum

The village of Posen (pop. 234), where the majority of the population is of Polish descent, has an annual Potato Festival.

Polka dancing is popular.

Presque Isle County has several historic lighthouses; the Forty Mile Point Light dates from 1897.

Part of the building is now a museum.

Ocqueoc Falls State Forest has the largest (and possibly only) waterfall in the Lower Peninsula.

Pronounced “ah-key-ock”

NEXT: ALPENA COUNTY

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Michigan: Cheboygan County

Cheboygan County (pop. 4,876) is just east of Emmet County, along the shore of Lake Huron at the northern tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. It’s the only Cheboygan County in the U.S.

The village of Mackinaw City (pop. 896), at the southern end of the Mackinac Bridge, is in both Emmet and Cheboygan counties. Ferries from Mackinaw City serve Mackinac Island.

Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse (1889), Mackinaw City

The county seat of Cheboygan County is the city of Cheboygan (pop. 4,876), which got its start as a lumber-mill town at the mouth of the seven-mile Cheboygan River.

U.S. Highway 23 drawbridge over Cheboygan River

The Kingston Theatre in downtown Cheboygan dates from 1920.

Still showing movies

Ferries from Cheboygan serve the 34-square-mile Bois Blanc Island (pop. 71). The name is pronounced “Bob Low.”

Fewer tourists than Mackinac

Cheboygan State Park is east of town. The park offers hiking, swimming, camping, and cross-county skiing.


Along Lake Huron

Just west of Cheboygan is the gift shop known as Sea Shell City, in operation since 1957.

The unincorporated community of Indian River is the home of the Nun Doll Museum.

More than 500 dolls

NEXT: PRESQUE ISLE COUNTY

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Michigan: Emmet County

Emmet County (pop. 32,694) is along Lake Michigan, just across the Straits of Mackinac from the Upper Peninsula. The only other Emmet County is in Iowa.

The county was named for Robert Emmet (1778-1803), an Irish nationalist who was hanged by the British for treason.

He never visited Michigan.

The county seat of Emmet County is Petoskey (pop. 5,670), located on the south side of Little Traverse Bay.

Ernest Hemingway spent boyhood summers in the area.

The Lake Michigan shore at Petoskey is known as a good place to find “Petoskey stones” – the fossilized coral rock that is Michigan’s state stone.

Polished Petoskey stones

The Archangel Grotto in Petoskey is the only grotto in the U.S. dedicated to St. Michael, St. Raphael, and St. Gabriel.

The statues are nine feet tall.

About six miles south of Petoskey is a historical sign that commemorates the extinction of the passenger pigeon. Millions of the birds were killed at their nesting colony in the area in 1878.

Just east of Petoskey is Bay View, a resort community established in 1875 by the United Methodist Church that became part of the Chautauqua movement. Every summer it has a program of music and lectures.

Two hotels and 440 cottages

Highway M-119 north of Harbor Springs is known as the “Tunnel of Trees.” It goes through the woods and along the shore of Lake Michigan.

No centerline

Wilderness State Park is in the northern part of Emmet County. Animals in the park include black bear, beaver, bobcat, mink, muskrat, and otter.

Waugoshance Point, Wilderness State Park

Fort Michilimackinac, a restored 18th-century trading post, is in Mackinaw City on the southern shore of the Straits of Mackinac.

Part of Colonial Michilimackinac State Park

NEXT: CHEBOYGAN COUNTY

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Michigan: Mackinac County

Mackinac (pronounced “Mackinaw”) County (pop. 11,113) is the gateway to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Originally called Michilimackinac County, it is connected to the Lower Peninsula by the 8,614-foot Mackinac Bridge over the Straits of Mackinac.

The world’s fifth-longest suspension bridge

The Straits of Mackinac connect Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The county seat of Mackinac County, St. Ignace (pop. 2,452), is at the northern end of the Mackinac Bridge.

Lake Michigan on left, Lake Huron on right

Father Jacques Marquette founded a mission at St. Ignace (today pronounced Saint IG-nus) in 1671. A later mission chapel, dating from 1837, is now the Museum of Ojibwa Culture. Father Marquette is buried at the site.

The oldest Catholic church structure in Michigan

Tourist attractions in St. Ignace include the Mystery Spot, Deer Ranch, and Indian Village.

Nearby, Castle Rock has statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.

Protected by a fence

St. Ignace is a 16-minute ferry ride from Mackinac Island – one of Michigan’s premier destinations for visitors. Motor vehicles (other than emergency vehicles) are not allowed on the island.

The city of Mackinac Island (permanent pop. 492) officially occupies the entire island, but three-fourths of the island is in Mackinac Island State Park. From 1875 to 1895, it was Mackinac National Park – America’s second national park.

The population grows by thousands in the summer.

Transportation on Mackinac Island is by horse-drawn carriage, bicycle, horse, and foot.

Downtown Mackinac Island

The island has a variety of hotels and other lodging. The most famous is the Grand Hotel, built in 1887, which claims to have the world’s largest porch.

Featured in the 1980 movie with Christopher Reeve

Mackinac Island is circled by the eight-mile Highway M-185, the only state highway in the U.S. on which motor vehicles are banned.

It was paved in the 1950s.

West of St. Ignace on Lake Michigan is the 30-acre  Garlyn Zoo, “the largest zoo in the Eastern Upper Peninsula.”

It opened in 1994.

NEXT: EMMET COUNTY

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Michigan: Chippewa County

Chippewa County (pop. 38,520) borders the far southeastern corner of Lake Superior at Whitefish Bay and extends along the Canadian border to the northwestern corner of Lake Huron.

Minnesota and Wisconsin also have Chippewa counties.

The county seat of Chippewa County is Sault Ste. Marie (pop. 14,144), the second-largest city on the Upper Peninsula.

Seen across the St. Marys River from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

“Sault” (pronounced “Soo” in English) is an archaic spelling of a French word meaning “rapids” – referring to the rapids of the St. Marys River. The Soo Locks bypass the rapids, allowing ships to pass between Lake Superior and Lake Huron.

About 10,000 ships a year go through the locks.

The site of Sault Ste. Marie was a longtime Native American settlement. In 1668, Father Jacques Marquette founded a mission there – the first European settlement in the Midwest.

It became a center of fur trading.

Today, Sault Ste. Marie is the northern terminus of Interstate 75, which goes 1,786 miles south to Hialeah, Florida.

Via Detroit, Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Tampa

Saulte Ste. Marie is the home of the International 500, the largest and longest snowmobile race in the world.

Riders go 500 miles on a one-mile oval.

Lake Superior State University is in Sault Ste. Marie. Established in 1946, it is Michigan’s smallest public university, with about 3,000 students.

The athletic teams are called the Lakers.

In the northwestern part of Chippewa County is Whitefish Point, where the lighthouse safeguards the route from Lake Superior into Whitefish Bay and the St. Marys River.

The current structure dates from 1861.

Nearby is the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, dating from 1985.

The area has been called “The Graveyard of the Great Lakes.”

At the opposite end of Chippewa County – and at the easternmost point in the Upper Peninsula – is DeTour Township. Three miles offshore, in Lake Huron, is the DeTour Reef Light (1931).

Protecting the route north to Lake Superior

Just east of DeTour Township is Drummond Island (pop. 992), which is reached by car ferry.

NEXT: MACKINAC COUNTY

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Michigan: Luce County

Luce County (pop. 6,631), on the southeastern shore of Lake Superior, is the site of Tahquamenon Falls State Park – which has two waterfalls on the Tahquamenon River.

The upper falls are more than 200 feet across.

Luce County is Michigan’s second-smallest county in population. Much of the county is forested wilderness.

The 23-mile Two-Hearted River flows through the county to Lake Superior. Ernest Hemingway used the name for his famous short story, published in 1925.

Hemingway camped in the UP in 1919.

The county seat of Luce County is the village of Newberry (pop. 1,519).

Downtown Newberry

The Michigan State Legislature has designated Newberry “The Moose Capital of Michigan.” Luce County has more moose-sightings than any other county in the state.

The former Sheriff’s House and Jail (1894) in Newberry is now the Luce County Historical Museum.

It opened as a museum in 1976.

Oswald’s Bear Ranch, near Newberry, has about 30 bears in a variety of habitats. It is the largest bear-only bear ranch in the U.S.

Opened to the public in 1997

Also near Newberry is the Toonerville Trolley, a five-mile, narrow-gauge train through the woods.

Closed in winter

The 217-acre Muskallonge Lake State Park is located between Lake Superior and Muskallonge Lake, on the site of the former lumber mill town of Deer Park.

Muskallonge Lake at sunset

NEXT: CHIPPEWA COUNTY

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Michigan: Schoolcraft County

Schoolcraft County (pop. 8,485), Michigan’s fourth-smallest county in population, is located at the northern end of Lake Michigan.

The county was named for Henry Schoolcraft (1793-1864), a geographer and geologist who explored the upper Mississippi River and served as Indian agent at Sault Ste. Marie.

He named many of Michigan’s counties.

Much of the western part of the county is in Hiawatha National Forest.

The forest is divided into two parts.

The county seat of Schoolcraft County is Manistique (pop. 3,097), located where the 71-mile-long Manistique River flows into Lake Michigan.

The original spelling was “Monistique.”

Manistique – which is one of several cities claiming to be the hometown of Paul Bunyan – has a Paul statue outside the Schoolcraft County Chamber of Commerce.

About 15 feet tall

Manistique was once famous among civil engineers for the “Siphon Bridge” (1919); the bridge’s original roadway was actually below the level of the Manistique River.

Today the river is below the bridge.

The octagonal Manistique Pumping Station was built in 1922.

Now the Schoolcraft County Museum

Germfask Township, northeast of Manistique, got its name from the surname initials of its eight founding settlers, whose last names were Grant, Edge, Robinson, Mead, French, Ackley, Sheppard, and Knaggs.

Founded in 1881

Palms Book State Park is best known for the “Kitch-iti-kipi,” Michigan’s largest natural freshwater spring. A self-operated observation ramp, running on a cable, allows visitors to look down into the clear water.

The water is 40 feet deep.

NEXT: LUCE COUNTY

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Michigan: Alger County

Alger County (pop. 9,601) is on the southern shore of Lake Superior. It’s the only Alger County in the U.S.

The county was named for Russell A. Alger (1836-1907), a lumber baron who later served as governor of Michigan, U.S. senator, and secretary of war for President William McKinley.

Also an officer in the Civil War

The county seat of Alger County is Munising (pop. 2,355), located at the south end of Munising Bay and at the mouth of the seven-mile-long Anna River.

Downtown Munising

The Munising area is known for its scenic waterfalls.

Wagner Falls

“Munising” is derived from the Ojibway language, meaning “near the island.” The city is a half-mile from Grand Island; a passenger ferry connects Munising with Grand Island National Recreation Area.

Hiking, camping, fishing, and hunting are available.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, east of Munising, extends for 42 miles along the shore of Lake Superior.

America’s first national lakeshore

Just west of Munising is the unincorporated community of Christmas, which once had a factory making gifts for sale at Christmas time.

The factory burned down in 1940.

The unincorporated community of Trenary is known for its annual outhouse races at the Trenary Outhouse Classic, held Feb. 22 this year.

The outhouses are placed on skis and pushed.

Trenary is also known for the Trenary Home Bakery, which makes the popular Trenary cinnamon toast, available by mail order.

The bakery dates from the 1930s.

The Eben Ice Caves are a local attraction in winter. They are in the Rock River Wilderness in Hiawatha National Forest.

Pronounced “Eh-ben,” not “Ee-ben”

The “Pickle Barrel House,” in Grand Marais, is a two-story cabin that was built (in 1926) to resemble two barrels. It was originally a family’s summer cabin.

Now restored and open for tours

NEXT: SCHOOLCRAFT COUNTY

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Michigan: Delta County

Delta County (pop. 37,069) is east of Menominee County on the north shore of Lake Michigan, mostly along the Big Bay de Noc and Little Bay de Noc.

Texas and Colorado also have Delta counties.

The county was named for the Greek letter “delta.” The Bays de Noc were named for the Noquet (or Noc) Indians, who once lived in the area.

The county originally had a triangular shape.

Delta County’s many historic lighthouses include the Poverty Island Light Station, which was in operation from 1875 to 1976. In 2011, Lighthouse Digest called it “America’s Most Endangered Lighthouse.”

About six miles south of the Garden Peninsula

A few miles west of Poverty Island, on St. Martin Island, is the St. Martin Island Light, built in 1905.

A rare “exoskeletal” lighthouse

The county seat of Delta County is Escanaba (pop. 12,616), which has been an important port town (for copper, lumber, and iron ore) since the mid-19th century.

Iron ore being loaded at Escanaba

The 52-mile-long Escanaba River flows into the Little Bay de Noc, just north of the city.

Escanaba means “land of the red buck.”

The Historic House of Luddington, built in the 1880s, still operates as a hotel and restaurant.

Built in Queen Anne style

The five-story Delta Hotel in downtown Escanaba  (1914) now has apartments.

It closed as a hotel in 1962.

The city of Gladstone, nine miles north of Escanaba, is well-known for the factory tours at the Hoegh Pet Casket Company.

8 sizes, 30 styles

In Nahma Township is the 100-foot Bay de Noquet Lumber Company Waste Burner (approx. 1893), now on the National Register of Historic Places.


It burned waste wood and bark from a sawmill.

Fayette Historic State Park, on the Big Bay de Noc, has reconstructed an industrial community that manufactured charcoal pig iron in the late 19th century.

More than 20 buildings are open.

NEXT: ALGER COUNTY

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Michigan: Menominee County

Menominee County (pop. 24,029) is southeast of Dickinson County. “Menominee” is a Native American word meaning “wild rice.”

The county seat is the city of Menominee (pop. 8,599), located on Green Bay (an arm of Lake Michigan), across the Menominee River from Marinette, Wisconsin.

Michigan on the right, Wisconsin on the left

The Menominee River begins about 115 miles to the north, near the city of Iron Mountain.

In the late 1800s, when Michigan was America’s leading producer of lumber, Menominee’s sawmills produced more lumber than any other city in the country.

The red-brick Menominee County Courthouse was built in 1875.

In Classical Revival style

St. John the Baptist Church in Menominee (1922) is now the Heritage Museum of the Menominee County Historical Society.

It closed as a church in 1972.

The Menominee North Pier Lighthouse is still in operation.

Built in 1927

A small car known as the “Dudly Bug” was manufactured by the Dudly Tool Company in Menominee from 1913 to 1915.

Only about 100 were ever made.

J.W. Wells State Park, northeast of Menominee along Green Bay, was established in 1925, thanks to a donation of land by the children of John Walter Wells, a pioneer lumberman in the county.

NEXT: DELTA COUNTY

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