Michigan: Monroe County

Monroe County (pop. 152,021) is one of 17 counties named for James Monroe, fifth president of the United States.

He was from Virginia.

Monroe County is in the southeastern corner of Michigan, along the shore of Lake Erie.

A geographical oddity in Monroe County is the “Lost Peninsula,” which is connected to Toledo, Ohio; drivers must go 10 minutes through Ohio to reach the rest of Michigan.

“Lost Peninsula” at upper right, above Toledo

Monroe County has the lowest elevation in Michigan, 571 feet above sea level along Lake Erie.

Sterling State Park and Fermi Nuclear Generating Station

The county seat of Monroe County is the city of Monroe (pop. 20.733).

Monroe County Courthouse (1880)

The Monroe Theatre (1938) in downtown Monroe is now the River Raisin Centre for the Arts.

It was vacant for many years.

General George Armstrong Custer (1839-1876) spent much of his childhood in Monroe.

Custer statue in Monroe (1910)

Model Christie Brinkley was born in Monroe in 1954, as Christie Lee Hudson.

The furniture manufacturer La-Z-Boy is headquartered in Monroe. The firm was founded in 1927.

Not just recliners anymore

The Cabela’s store in the village of  Dundee (pop. 3,957) claims to have “The World’s Largest Bronze Wildlife Sculpture.”

Two fighting (or kissing) bears

The unincorporated community of Ottawa Lake has a giant Uncle Sam statue.

Formerly in Toledo

Monroe County has a village called Maybee (pop. 562), named after one of its founders, Abram Maybee.



Michigan: Lenawee County

Lenawee County (pop. 99,892) is east of Hillsdale County, along Michigan’s southern border with Ohio. It is the only Lenawee County in the U.S.

Lenawee County in 1895

The county seat of Lenawee County is the city of Adrian (pop. 21,133).

Lenawee County Courthouse

Around the turn of the 20th century, Adrian was known as the “Fence Capital of the World” because of its wire fence manufacturing plants.

The Adrian Engine House No. 1 is an historic fire station built in 1855. It now houses private offices.

Romanesque Revival and Italianate styles

The Adrian Public Library (1909) building is now the home of the Lenawee County Historical Society Museum.

Next door to the old fire station

The Croswell Opera House (1866) in Adrian is the oldest continuously running theater in the state. It was a movie theater from 1921 to 1967.

Still used for live theater

Adrian College, founded in 1859, is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. It has about 1,600 students.

Founded as a theological institute

The Irish Hills Towers, in northern Lenawee County, are wooden observation towers built in 1924 to boost tourism in the area. They have been closed to the public since 2000.

60 feet tall

The Southern Michigan Railroad Society runs seasonal trains in Clinton Township.

13 miles of track

The city of Tecumseh (pop. 8,521) was once known as the “Refrigeration Capital of the World” because of the manufacture of refrigeration products. Tecumseh Products moved its factory from Tecumseh to Mississippi in 2008.


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Michigan: Hillsdale County

Hillsdale County (pop. 46,688) is east of Branch County. It’s the only Hillsdale County in the U.S.

The Grand River, Michigan’s longest river, begins in the northeastern corner of Hillsdale County and flows 252 miles to Lake Michigan.

The county seat of Hillsdale County is the city of Hillsdale (pop. 8,305).

Hillsdale County Courthouse (1899)

Hillsdale is the home of Hillsdale College (1844), which was the first college in the U.S. to prohibit admissions discrimination on the basis of race, sex, or religion.

About 1,500 students

Actor Jason Robards, Sr. (1892-1963) was born in Hillsdale. He was the father of Jason Robards, Jr.

In “The Wayne Murder Case” (1932)

In the unincorporated community of Somerset, a small park has 17 “faux wood” concrete bridges that were constructed in about 1930.

The style is called “trabajo rustico.”


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Michigan: Branch County

Branch County (pop. 45,248) is east of St. Joseph County, on the border with Indiana. It’s the only Branch County in the U.S.

Branch County was named for John Branch, Jr., (1782-1863), secretary of the Navy under President Andrew Jackson.

Also senator from North Carolina

It is Michigan’s third-smallest county in square miles, with about 100 lakes.

Popular for fishing

The county seat of Branch County is the city of Coldwater (pop. 10,945). A clock tower, adjacent to the courthouse, was built in 1988.

The old courthouse burned down in 1972.

Downtown Coldwater is on the National Register of Historic Places.

U.S. Highway 12 runs down Chicago Street.

The Tibbits Opera House in Coldwater is the second-oldest theater in Michigan.

Built in 1882

The Capri Drive-In Theater in Coldwater has been in operation since 1964.

Two screens


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Michigan: St. Joseph County

St. Joseph County (pop. 61,295) is east of Cass County. The only other St. Joseph County is nearby, in Indiana.

The county seat of St. Joseph County is the village of Centreville (pop. 1,425).

St. Joseph County Courthouse (1899)

Actor Verne Troyer grew up in Centreville. He played the part of “Mini-Me” in the Austin Powers movies.

He is 2 feet, 8 inches tall.

The largest city in St. Joseph County is the city of Sturgis (pop. 10,994), hometown of Motel 6 spokesman Tom Bodett.

The Strand Theater in downtown Sturgis has been operating since 1941.

It now has four screens.

The Mottville Speedway, in Mottville Township, opened in 1950.

The village of Colon (pop. 1,173) was named for the punctuation mark, not the body part.

Colon was the longtime home of magician Harry Blackstone, Sr. (1885-1965). Colon has several magic-supply businesses, and it hosts an annual magic convention.

Blackstone’s grave, Lakeside Cemetery

At Colon High School, the sports teams are called the Magi.


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Michigan: Cass County

Cass County (pop. 52,293), is east of Berrien County. With 508 total square miles, it is Michigan’s smallest county.

It is one of nine Cass counties in the U.S. and one of eight named for Lewis Cass (1782-1866), territorial governor of Michigan and later secretary of war in the Andrew Jackson administration.

Born in New Hampshire

Cass County is considered one of Michigan’s 10 “Cabinet counties,” named for Andrew Jackson and the men in his cabinet (Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Eaton, Ingham, Livingston, Van Buren).

Most were created in 1829.

The county seat of Cass County is the village of Cassopolis (pop. 1,774).

Cass County Courthouse (1899)

Lawyer-politician Dennis Archer grew up in Cassopolis; Archer has been a justice on the Michigan Supreme Court, mayor of Detroit (1993-2001), and president of the American Bar Association.

He taught school in Detroit before becoming a lawyer.

The largest city in Cass County is Dowagiac (pop. 5,879).

Dowagiac Amtrak station (1903)

Dowagiac has one of Michigan’s few remaining drive-in movies – the 5-Mile Drive-In.

It opened in 1961.

Cass County has more than 100 lakes; the village of Edwardsburg (pop. 1,259) is the home of Lunker’s, which claims to be one of the largest hunting, fishing, and outdoor stores in the U.S.

Opened in 1985

The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Pokagon (1876), in Pokagon Township, was the site of the first public performance of the hymn “The Old Rugged Cross, ” in 1913.

Written by the Rev. George Bennard

The Swiss Valley Ski and Snowboard Area is in the eastern part of Cass County.

Lighted for night skiing

Cass and Berrien counties are in an area informally called “Michiana,” centered on adjacent St. Joseph County, Indiana, and its county seat, South Bend.

“Touchdown Jesus,” Notre Dame University


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Michigan: Berrien County

Berrien County (pop. 156,813) is in the southwestern corner of Michigan, bordering Indiana and Lake Michigan.

Warren Dunes State Park and Grand Mere State Park are popular recreational areas along Lake Michigan.

The highest dunes are more than 200 feet above the lake.

The county seat of Berrien County is the city of St. Joseph (pop. 8,365).

St. Joseph Pier Lighthouse

Kate Upton, model and actress, was born in St. Joseph in 1992. Her great-grandfather was Frederick Upton, who co-founded the Whirlpool Corporation – which is still based in Berrien County.

Originally the Upton Machine Company

From 1891 to 1971, St. Joseph was the home of the Silver Beach Amusement Park. The land is now Silver Beach County Park.

It had steamboat access from Chicago.

St. Joseph’s “twin city” is Benton Harbor (pop. 10,038), on the opposite side of the St. Joseph River. Benton Harbor reached its peak population of 19,136 in 1960.

Benton Harbor in 1961

The actor and comedian Sinbad (David Adkins) was born in Benton Harbor in 1956; he was in the marching band at Benton Harbor High School.

The village of Berrien Springs (pop. 1,800) was the county seat of Berrien County from 1837 to 1894.

Former Courthouse (1839)

Andrews University in Berrien Springs was founded in 1874. It was the first higher-education facility founded by Seventh-Day Adventists.

It has about 3,000 students.

The city of Coloma (pop. 1,483) is known for the Dinosaur Farm, containing a variety of skeletal dinosaur sculptures.


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Michigan: Van Buren County

Van Buren County (pop. 76,258) is west of Kalamazoo County, along Lake Michigan.

It is one of four counties named for President Martin Van Buren (1782-1862) – although it got its name when he was Andrew Jackson’s secretary of state, before he became president.

“The Little Magician” was 5′ 6″ tall.

The county seat of Van Buren County is the village of Paw Paw (pop. 3,534). It got its name from the paw paw trees along the Paw Paw River.

Van Buren County Courthouse (1901)

Outfielder Charlie Maxwell, who played in the major leagues from 1950 to 1964, grew up in Paw Paw.

His nickname was “Paw Paw.”

Paw Paw, in a grape-growing area, has an annual Wine and Harvest Festival.

Grape-stomping competition

The largest city in Van Buren County is South Haven (pop. 4,403), which is partially in Allegan County.

“Blue Moo” the cow, South Haven

The South Haven South Pierhead Light, at the mouth of the Black River, dates from 1903.

One of at least seven Black rivers in Michigan

South Haven is the home of the National Blueberry Festival.

The city of Gobles (pop. 829) is the home of the Timber Ridge Ski Area, which opened in 1961.

240-foot vertical drop

The village of Decatur (pop. 1,819) was the hometown of Edgar Bergen (1903-1978) – actor, ventriloquist, and father of actress Candice Bergen.

The village of Mattawan (pop. 1,997) was the hometown of Marian and Vivian Brown, the “San Francisco Twins,” born Jan. 25, 1927. Starting in the 1970s, they became local celebrities on the San Francisco social scene.

Co-valedictorians at Mattawan High School in 1945


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Michigan: Kalamazoo County

Kalamazoo County (pop. 250,331) is west of Calhoun County. It’s the only Kalamazoo County in the U.S. The origin of the word “Kalamazoo” is uncertain.

The county seat of Kalamazoo County is the city of Kalamazoo (pop. 74,262).

Arcadia Creek flows into the Kalamazoo River.

The Kalamazoo Mall, built in 1959, was the first outdoor pedestrian shopping mall in the U.S. Four downtown blocks were eventually closed to traffic; two blocks reopened in 1998.

The mall in the early ’60s

Kalamazoo is the home of the public Western Michigan University (1903), with about 24,000 students, and the private Kalamazoo College (1833), with about 1,400 students.

Aerial view of WMU

The State Theatre in downtown Kalamazoo, built in 1927, hosts a variety of concerts and other events.

An “atmospheric” movie palace

The song “(I’ve Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo” was a hit for Glenn Miller and His Orchestra in 1942.

The Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital, which opened in 1859, is the largest mental health institution in Michigan.

The water tower is a local landmark.

Amtrak’s “Wolverine” (between Chicago and Pontiac) and “Blue Water” (between Chicago and Port Huron) both stop at the Kalamazoo Transportation Center, which incorporates the Michigan Central Railroad depot.

Built in 1887

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter grew up in Kalamazoo. He starred in baseball and basketball at Kalamazoo Central High School.

A tornado hit Kalamazoo on May 13, 1980, killing five people and injuring 79. About 1,200 people were left homeless.

The Air Zoo is an aviation museum in the city of Portage (pop. 46,292), just south of Kalamazoo, adjacent to the Kalamazoo-Battle Creek International Airport.

Founded in 1977

The Barn Theatre, in the village of Augusta (pop. 885), is Michigan’s oldest professional summer stock theater company.

It opened in 1946.


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Michigan: Calhoun County

Calhoun County (pop. 136,146) is west of Jackson County. It is one of 11 Calhoun counties in the U.S. – all named for John C. Calhoun, U.S. senator from South Carolina and vice president under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson.

The county seat of Calhoun County is the city of Marshall (pop. 7,080).

Downtown Marshall in the ’60s

The Honolulu House in Marshall was built in 1860 by the first U.S. consul to the Sandwich Islands.

Now a museum

The American Museum of Magic in Marshall has a large collection of magical paraphernalia, including many items that once belonged to magician Harry Blackstone, Sr.

The museum opened in 1978.

The largest city in Calhoun County is Battle Creek (pop. 52,347).

Heritage Tower and Battle Creek Tower (both 1931)

Battle Creek is the world headquarters of Kellogg Company, founded in 1906 by Will Kellogg – whose brother, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, invented cold breakfast cereal. Post Cereals also began in Battle Creek.

Battle Creek is known as “Cereal City.”

Dr. Kellogg’s Battle Creek Sanitarium opened in 1876. The sanitarium’s tower building was built in 1928; it was converted into a military hospital in 1942 and into a federal office building (now the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center) in 1954.

Future senators Hart, Dole, and Inouye met there during WWII.

Battle Creek has an annual Cereal Festival, featuring “The World’s Longest Breakfast Table.”

The festival dates from 1956.

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), abolitionist and women’s rights advocate, lived in Battle Creek for many years and is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery there.

12-foot statue in Battle Creek

Comedian Thomas Richard “Dick” Martin (1922-2008) was born in Battle Creek and graduated from Michigan State University.

On “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In”

The city of Albion (pop. 8,616) is the home of Albion College, a liberal arts college founded in 1835.

It has about 1,300 students.


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Michigan: Jackson County

Jackson County (pop. 160,248) is west of Washtenaw County. It’s one of 23 Jackson counties (and one Jackson parish) – 22 of them named for President Andrew Jackson (1767-1845).

Jackson County in 1889

The county seat of Jackson County is the city of Jackson (pop. 33,534).

The Jackson County Courthouse (1928) was originally the Elks Temple.

Jackson was a center of the automobile industry in the early 20th century, with more than 20 different manufacturers. The city reached its peak population of 55,187 in 1930.

Jackson Auto Company plant

The tallest building in Jackson is the 17-story Jackson County Tower, built in 1929 as the Union and Peoples National Bank.

It now has county offices.

The Michigan Theatre in Jackson was built in 1930.

Spanish Baroque style

Cascade Falls is a man-made waterfall in Jackson’s Cascade Park, built in 1932.

Amtrak’s “Wolverine” train, between Pontiac and Chicago, stops at Jackson’s former Union Station, which dates from 1872. The depot is one of the oldest continually operating stations in the U.S.

Italianate style

Michigan State Prison (1839) in Jackson was Michigan’s first prison. The prison is still in operation; tours are available.

Famous people who were born in or grew up in Jackson include TV host Jack Paar, football coach Tony Dungy, and volleyball player Karch Kiraly. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart was born in Jackson (in 1915) while his parents were on vacation.

The Jackson County village of Grass Lake (pop. 1,173) is the home of the Michigan Whitetail Hall of Fame Museum.

There’s also a live deer farm.

The village of Concord (pop. 1,050) is known for the Mail Pouch Tobacco sign on a downtown building.


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Michigan: Washtenaw County

Washtenaw County (pop. 344,791) is west of Wayne County. “Washtenaw” is derived from an Ojibwa word meaning “far away water.”

The county seat of Washtenaw County is Ann Arbor (pop. 113,934), sixth-largest city in Michigan.

Michigan Theater (1928)

The “Ann” apparently came from Ann Allen, wife of one of the city’s founders, and the “Arbor” from the word for a shady area under a tree or bower.

Ann Arbor is home of the University of Michigan, founded in 1817 in Detroit and established in Ann Arbor in 1837. It has about 43,000 students. Michigan Stadium (1927) is America’s largest stadium.

“The Big House” seats about 110,000.

The “Sine Wave Field” on the North Campus was designed by Maya Lin in 1995; she later designed the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.

10,000 square feet

The Ann Arbor Central Fire Station is now the home of the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum.

On the National Register of Historic Places

Borders bookstores began in Ann Arbor in 1971, founded by brothers Tom and Louis Borders. The last Borders stores closed in 2011.

This was the flagship store in Ann Arbor.

The city of Ypsilanti (pop. 19,435) is just east of Ann Arbor.

Downtown Ypsilanti

The city was named for Demetrius Ypsilanti (1793-1832), a hero in the Greek War of Independence.

Statue and much-photographed 1889 water tower

Tom Monaghan started Domino’s Pizza in Ypsilanti in 1960. It is now the second-largest pizza chain in the U.S.

“Ypsi” is the home of Eastern Michigan University, founded in 1849 as Michigan State Normal School. It has about 23,000 students.

In the Mid-American Conference

In the western part of the county, the city of Chelsea (pop. 4,944) is the home of the Chelsea Milling Company, known for Jiffy baking mixes sold in a small box.


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Michigan: Wayne County

Wayne County (pop. 1,820,584) is Michigan’s most-populous county and the 17th-most-populous county in the U.S. It reached its peak population of 2,666,751 in 1970.

It is one of 16 Wayne counties in the U.S., all of them named for Revolutionary War general “Mad Anthony” Wayne (1745-1796).

The county seat of Wayne County is the city of Detroit (pop. 713,777), 18th-largest city in the U.S. In 1950, when Detroit had a population of 1,849,568, it was the fifth-largest city in the country.

Downtown Detroit and Detroit River

The many musicians who grew up in Detroit include Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Jackie Wilson, Jack White, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, and Ted Nugent.

The headquarters of Motown Records is now the Motown Museum.

Heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis (1914-1981) lived in Detroit for many years. Today, the NHL Detroit Red Wings play in downtown’s Joe Louis Arena.

Joe Louis fist statue (1986)

The American League Detroit Tigers and NFL Detroit Lions play at the adjacent Comerica Park (2000) and Ford Field (2002) in downtown Detroit.

Ford Field on the left

The 5,000-seat Fox Theatre (1928) is America’s largest surviving movie palace from the 1920s. (Radio City Music Hall opened in 1932.)

The Fox in St. Louis is slightly smaller than this.

The cities of Hamtramck (pop. 22,423) and Highland Park (pop. 11,776) are surrounded by the city of Detroit. Their populations in 1930 were 56,268 and 52,959, respectively.

Ford built Model T’s at its Highland Park plant.

Dearborn (pop. 98,153), just west of Detroit, is the home of the Ford River Rouge Complex. When it was completed in 1928, it was the largest integrated factory in the world – about 1.5 miles long by 1 mile wide.

It’s still there, but much smaller.

Also in Dearborn, the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village is the largest indoor-outdoor museum complex in the U.S.

John F. Kennedy’s presidential limousine

Arab-Americans make up about 42% of Dearborn’s population; this is the largest percentage of Arab-Americans in any city in the U.S.

The city of Grosse Pointe (pop. 5,421) is east of Detroit; the movie “Grosse Pointe Blank” (1997) was actually filmed in Southern California.

John Cusack

The city of Plymouth (pop. 9,132), in the northwestern corner of Wayne County, was once known as the “BB Gun Capital of the World,” with seven BB gun companies in the area.

Daisy Manufacturing Company made the Red Ryder.


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Michigan: Macomb County

Macomb County (pop. 840,978) is Michigan’s third-largest in population. East of Oakland County and northeast of Detroit, it’s on the western shore of Lake St. Clair.

The county seat of Macomb County is the city of Mt. Clemens (pop. 16,314).

JFK statue, Mt. Clemens

Broadcaster Dick Enberg was born in Mt. Clemens in 1935; he received his bachelor’s degree at Central Michigan University.

Now with the San Diego Padres

The largest city in Macomb County is Warren (pop. 134,056), third-largest city in Michigan and the largest suburb of Detroit. It reached its peak population of 179,260 in 1970.

Big Boy Restaurants is headquartered in Warren.

The General Motors Technical Center in Warren employs about 16,000 engineers, designers, and technicians. The center, with 25 main buildings, was designed by Eero Saarinen.

Completed in 1955

Warren has been ranked first in the U.S. for longevity of residence, with the average resident having lived there for 35.5 years. The city also has one of the oldest populations among larger U.S. cities.

Mitch Ryder of Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels grew up in Warren.

Sterling Heights (pop. 129,699) is Michigan’s fourth-largest city.

The Chrysler 200 is manufactured in Sterling Heights.

In the wealthy city of Grosse Point Shores (pop. 3,008), the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House (1927) is open for tours.

Edsel was Henry Ford’s only child.

The village of Romeo (pop. 3,596), site of the annual Michigan Peach Festival of Romeo, is the hometown of the musician Kid Rock.

Real name: Robert James Ritchie

Every year on Feb. 14, the post offices in Romeo and Juliette, Georgia, offer a special Valentine’s Day cancellation postmark.


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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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