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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Michigan: Ottawa County

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

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

Grand Haven pier and lighthouses

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

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

On the Grand River

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

48 acres

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

Part of Holland is in Allegan County.

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

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

Associated with the Reformed Church in America

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

Built in 1872

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

142 acres

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

The mascot is Louis the Laker.

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

Made of Styrofoam


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Michigan: Kent County

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

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

On the Grand River, the state’s longest river

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

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

Ford’s boyhood home

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

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

Converted in 1987

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

Built in 1911

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

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

Fifth Third Ballpark (1994)

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

“The American Horse”

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

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

On the Flat River


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Michigan: Ionia County

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

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

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

Ionia County Courthouse (1885)

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

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

Italianate style

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

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

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

Built in 1917

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

Belding was “Silk City of the World.”

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


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Michigan: Clinton County

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

The other two were named for his uncle George.

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

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

The festival mascot

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

Lake Ovid

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

Gothic Revival style

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

Anatomically a bull

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

Six adults also died.


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Michigan: Shiawassee County

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

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

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

Shiawassee County Courthouse (1904)

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

The Owosso Speedway is west of town.

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

Now a museum

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

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

Steam excursions are available.

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

Built in 1903


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Michigan: Genesee County

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

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

Flint is on the Flint River.

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

Flint Assembly now produces full-size trucks for GM.

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

The monument

The Capitol Theatre in downtown Flint is currently being renovated.

It opened in 1928.

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

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

Established in 1956

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

The lower eight floors were a parking garage.

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

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

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

They were most popular in the ’70s.

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


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Michigan: Lapeer County

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

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

Downtown Lapeer

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

Greek Revival style

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

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

Streamline Moderne style

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

Offensive lineman for St. Louis Rams

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

Gift boxes are available

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


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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


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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.”


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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


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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.


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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


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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


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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.


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.


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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


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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.


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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


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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


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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.


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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


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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


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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


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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.


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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.


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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


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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.


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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.


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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


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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


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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.


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


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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.


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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


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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


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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.”


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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


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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


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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


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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.


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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


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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”


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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


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