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Grand Traverse County, Michigan
Grand Traverse County Courthouse.jpg
Grand Traverse County Courthouse in Traverse City
Flag of Grand Traverse County, Michigan
Flag
Logo of Grand Traverse County, Michigan
Logo
Map of Michigan highlighting Grand Traverse County
Location in the state of Michigan
Map of the U.S. highlighting Michigan
Michigan's location in the U.S.
Founded 1851[1]
Named for Grand Traverse Bay
Seat Traverse City
Largest city Traverse City
Area
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

601 sq mi (1,557 km²)
464 sq mi (1,202 km²)
137 sq mi (355 km²), 23%
Population
 - (2020)
 - Density

95,238
198/sq mi (76/km²)
Congressional district 1st
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website www.co.grand-traverse.mi.us

Grand Traverse County is located in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2020 census, the population was 95,238.[2] The county seat is Traverse City.[3]

According to the United States Census Bureau, during the 2020 census the population of Grand Traverse County was 95,238.

Grand Traverse County is part of the Traverse City, MI, Micropolitan Statistical Area, which also includes Benzie, Kalkaska, and Leelanau counties.

Interlochen, home of the Interlochen Center for the Arts, is located in Green Lake Township.

Grand Traverse County was originally known as Omeena County.

History[]

Early history[]

In 1840, the county was separated from Mackinac County and originally named Omeena County, later to be renamed Grand Traverse County, after Grand Traverse.

Grand Traverse County was organized by an act of the state legislature on April 7, 1851.[1] Grand Traverse is derived from a French phrase meaning "long crossing" and the county is so named because it is situated at the Grand Traverse Bay.[1][4] The first permanent settlement in the county was the mission now known as Old Mission. The county was initially divided into two townships: Peninsula Township, which was coterminous with the Old Mission Peninsula, and Traverse Township, which took up the rest of the county.

Over time, Traverse Township was divided into Garfield and Whitewater townships. Later on, Garfield Township was further divided into Silver Lake and Mayfield townships, and Whitewater Township was divided into Acme, East Bay, and Paradise townships. Over time, lines were redrawn, and the townships evolved into today's configuration.

Historical markers[]

There are 12 recognized Michigan historical markers in the county:[5] They are:

  • City Opera House
  • Congregation Beth El
  • Fife Lake Union District No. 1 Schoolhouse
  • Grand Traverse Bay
  • Grand Traverse County Courthouse
  • Hesler Log House
  • Interlochen
  • Ladies Library Association
  • Novotny's Saloon[6]
  • Park Place Hotel
  • Traverse City Regional Psychiatric Hospital
  • Friends of the Light (the former Traverse City Friends Church)

Geography[]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 601 square miles (1,560 km2), of which 464 square miles (1,200 km2) is land and 137 square miles (350 km2) (23%) is water.[7] Grand Traverse County is considered to be part of Northern Michigan. The highest point in Grand Traverse County is Exodus Hill in Long Lake Township, and the lowest point is the Grand Traverse Bay. Power Island, the largest island in Grand Traverse Bay, is part of Peninsula Township.

Adjacent counties[]

Lakes[]

Bass Lake

(not including Lake Michigan)

  • Arbutus Lake
  • Bartlett Lake
  • Bass Lake
  • Bellew Lake
  • Bellows Lake
  • Boardman Lake
  • Brewster Lake
  • Bridge Lake
  • Bullhead Lake
  • Bumphrey Lake
  • Cedar Hedge Lake
  • Cedar Lake
  • Chandler Lake
  • Christmas Tree Lake
  • Coffield Lake
  • Coon Lake
  • Denzer Lake
  • Dollar Lake
  • Lake DuBonnet
  • Duck Lake (Wahbekaness)
  • Dyer Lake
  • Elk Lake
  • Ellis Lake
  • Fenton Lake
  • Fern Lake
  • Fife Lake
  • Fish Lake
  • Green Lake (Wahbekanetta)
  • Hay Lake
  • Heniser Lakes
  • High Lake
  • Hunter Lake
  • Huellmantel Lake
  • Larch Lake
  • Long Lake
  • Lost Lake
  • Mayfield Pond
  • Mirror Lake
  • Mud Lake
  • Muncie Lake
  • Noren Lake
  • Page Lake
  • Petobego Pond
  • Pickerel Lake
  • Prescott Lake
  • Pyatt Lake
  • Rahe Lake
  • Rennie Lake
  • Saunders Lake
  • Lake Scandinavia
  • Silver Lake
  • Skiver Lake
  • Smith Lake
  • Spider Lake
  • Lake Skegemog
  • Strombolis Lake
  • Stricker Lake
  • Lake Swainston
  • Tonawanda Lake
  • Truax Lake
  • Twin Lake
  • Vandervoight Lake
  • Whelock Lake
  • Wistrand Lake

Creeks[]

  • 22 Creek
  • Acme Creek
  • Angell Creek
  • Bancroft Creek
  • Beitner Creek
  • California Creek
  • Campbell Creek
  • Carpenter Creek
  • Cedar Run
  • Dipley Creek
  • Desmond Creek
  • Dyer Creek
  • East Creek
  • Fife Lake Outlet
  • Harris Creek
  • Headquarters Creek
  • Jaxon Creek
  • Kids Creek
  • Kesner Creek
  • Kingsley Creek
  • Mitchell Creek
  • Neal Creek
  • No Name Creek
  • Orchard Creek
  • Parker Creek
  • Prescott Creek
  • Pyatt Creek
  • Rennie Creek
  • Rudhardt Creek
  • Sands Creek
  • Sucker Creek
  • Swainston Creek
  • Spider Creek
  • Taylor Creek
  • Tobeco Creek
  • Treasure Creek
  • Vanderlip Creek
  • Williamsburg Creek
  • Woodland Creek
  • Yuba Creek

Rivers[]

  • Betsie River
  • Boardman River (including north and south branches)
  • Platte River

Transportation[]

Air travel[]

Grand Traverse County is served by Cherry Capital Airport, which is located near Traverse City. It serves the 21-county Northern Michigan area, and has destinations around the country. Other airparks in the county include:

  • Acme Skyport
  • Green Lake Airport
  • Tramps Aerodrome
  • Yuba Airport

Other than Cherry Capital Airport, all other airports in the county are unpaved

Formerly, there was an airport on the south side of Traverse City called Ransom Field.[8] This was located on Rennie Hill. This airport closed sometime in the 1930s.

Map of Grand Traverse County's highways

Major highways[]

The county contains about 103 miles (166 km), about 1.07% of the Michigan State Trunkline Highway System. These highways include the ones listed below.

  • US 31 runs through the county southwest to northeast. It provides access to cities to the north (like Charlevoix and Petoskey) and southwest (like Ludington and Muskegon). The highway runs all the way to Spanish Fort, Alabama, to the south and runs through major cities like Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville, and Birmingham.
  • US 131 runs through the far southeastern part of the county, entirely within Fife Lake Township. The highway provides access to Kalkaska and Petoskey to the north, and cities like Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo to the south. The southern end is at the Indiana Toll Road just across the state line.
  • M-22 is the shortest highway segment within the county. It begins at an intersection in Traverse City, and runs northwest along the Grand Traverse Bay towards the county line. It then continues in Leelanau County up towards Northport and then runs southwesterly towards Glen Arbor, Frankfort, and Manistee.
  • M-37 is the longest highway in the county. It runs from a cul-de-sac at Old Mission Point southerly to Traverse City and through Buckley. The highway then continues down through the state to Baldwin, Grand Rapids, Hastings, and Battle Creek.
  • M-72 runs east-to-west in the county from northern Long Lake Township to near Williamsburg. The highway provides access to Empire and central Leelanau County to the west, and Kalkaska, Grayling, and Harrisville to the east.
  • M-113 runs through the southern portion of the county, connecting M-37 to US 131 while passing through Kingsley and Walton.
  • M-137 was a state highway that connected US 31 near Interlochen with Interlochen Center for the Arts and Interlochen State Park. However, this highway was decommissioned in 2020.
  • M-186 is a short highway providing a direct route from M-113 to US 131 and Fife Lake.

Demographics[]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1860 1,286
1870 4,443 245.5%
1880 8,422 89.6%
1890 13,355 58.6%
1900 20,479 53.3%
1910 23,784 16.1%
1920 19,518 −17.9%
1930 20,011 2.5%
1940 23,390 16.9%
1950 28,598 22.3%
1960 33,490 17.1%
1970 39,175 17.0%
1980 54,899 40.1%
1990 64,273 17.1%
2000 77,654 20.8%
2010 86,986 12.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]
1790-1960[10] 1900-1990[11]
1990-2000[12] 2010-2020[2]

As of the census[13] of 2000, there were 77,654 people, 30,396 households, and 20,730 families residing in the county. The population density was 167 inhabitants per square mile (64 /km2). There were 34,842 housing units at an average density of 75 per square mile (29 /km2). The racial makeup of the county was 96.51% White, 0.40% Black or African American, 0.93% Native American, 0.49% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.54% from other races, and 1.09% from two or more races. 1.49% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 25.1% were of German, 11.3% English, 10.7% Irish, 8.4% American and 7.4% Polish ancestry, 96.4% spoke English and 1.6% Spanish as their first language.

There were 30,396 households, out of which 32.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.70% were married couples living together, 9.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.80% were non-families. 25.00% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 25.40% under the age of 18, 7.90% from 18 to 24, 29.70% from 25 to 44, 24.00% from 45 to 64, and 13.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $43,169, and the median income for a family was $51,211. Males had a median income of $34,796 versus $24,139 for females. The per capita income for the county was $22,111. About 3.80% of families and 5.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.30% of those under age 18 and 5.90% of those age 65 or over.

Religion[]

Grand Traverse County is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gaylord.[14]

Government and politics[]

United States presidential election results for Grand Traverse County, Michigan[15]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 30,502 50.54% 28,683 47.53% 1,168 1.94%
2016 27,413 52.73% 20,965 40.33% 3,607 6.94%
2012 26,534 55.05% 20,875 43.31% 788 1.63%
2008 24,716 50.60% 23,258 47.62% 869 1.78%
2004 27,446 59.42% 18,256 39.52% 489 1.06%
2000 22,358 58.48% 14,371 37.59% 1,500 3.92%
1996 16,355 49.07% 12,987 38.97% 3,987 11.96%
1992 13,629 39.55% 11,148 32.35% 9,684 28.10%
1988 17,191 62.46% 10,098 36.69% 236 0.86%
1984 18,036 70.83% 7,271 28.55% 157 0.62%
1980 14,484 58.63% 7,150 28.94% 3,072 12.43%
1976 13,505 63.85% 7,263 34.34% 382 1.81%
1972 11,421 64.81% 5,810 32.97% 390 2.21%
1968 8,960 61.51% 4,741 32.55% 866 5.94%
1964 6,198 45.26% 7,475 54.59% 20 0.15%
1960 8,618 63.65% 4,886 36.09% 36 0.27%
1956 9,102 73.47% 3,256 26.28% 30 0.24%
1952 9,034 77.14% 2,639 22.53% 38 0.32%
1948 5,473 68.28% 2,365 29.51% 177 2.21%
1944 5,413 67.03% 2,607 32.28% 55 0.68%
1940 5,620 64.27% 3,095 35.39% 30 0.34%
1936 3,676 46.07% 3,827 47.96% 477 5.98%
1932 3,442 45.70% 3,907 51.88% 182 2.42%
1928 4,429 74.56% 1,489 25.07% 22 0.37%
1924 4,011 74.86% 558 10.41% 789 14.73%
1920 4,056 74.04% 1,158 21.14% 264 4.82%
1916 1,917 45.81% 1,848 44.16% 420 10.04%
1912 899 23.25% 937 24.23% 2,031 52.52%
1908 2,811 65.88% 1,289 30.21% 167 3.91%
1904 3,383 81.40% 594 14.29% 179 4.31%
1900 3,127 68.38% 1,286 28.12% 160 3.50%
1896 2,533 57.20% 1,745 39.41% 150 3.39%
1892 1,734 54.70% 924 29.15% 512 16.15%
1888 1,859 63.10% 925 31.40% 162 5.50%
1884 1,645 64.59% 808 31.72% 94 3.69%



The county government operates the jail, maintains rural roads, operates the major local courts, keeps files of deeds and mortgages, maintains vital records, administers public health regulations, and participates with the state in the provision of welfare and other social services. The county board of commissioners controls the budget but has only limited authority to make laws or ordinances. In Michigan, most local government functions — police and fire, building and zoning, tax assessment, street maintenance, etc. — are the responsibility of individual cities and townships.

Historically, Grand Traverse County has been a Republican-leaning county; it voted for the Republican candidate in every presidential election since the Civil War,[16] except for four: 1912, 1932, 1936, and 1964. In the last decade, the county has been moving towards the Democratic Party. Traverse City leans Democratic while the rest of the county leans Republican.

In the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump carried the county, despite losing the state of Michigan. In 2020, he won the county with 50.54% (30,502 votes), and in 2016, won with 52.73% (27,413 votes).[17]

In 2008, Republican candidate John McCain received 24,716 votes in the county (50.60% of the total) to Democratic candidate Barack Obama's 23,258 (47.62%), even as Obama carried the state of Michigan by a double-digit margin.[18] McCain's margin of victory was narrower than usual for a Republican candidate in the county.

In 2004, Republican president George W. Bush received 27,446 votes in the county (59.42%) to Democrat John Kerry's 18,256 (39.52%).[19]

In 2000, Bush received 22,358 votes in the county (58.48%) to Democrat Al Gore's 14,371 (37.59%).[20]

Elected officials[]

  • Prosecuting Attorney: Noelle Moeggenberg
  • Sheriff: Tom Bensley
  • County Clerk: Bonnie Scheele
  • County Treasurer: Heidi Scheppe
  • Register of Deeds: Peggy Haines
  • Drain Commissioner: Andy Smits

County commission[]

  • District 1: Betsy Coffia
  • District 2: Bryce Hundley
  • District 3: Brad Jewett
  • District 4: Penny Morris
  • District 5: Ron Clous (vice chair)
  • District 6: Darryl Nelson
  • District 7: Rob Hentschel (chair)

Law enforcement agencies[]

County[]

  • Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Department

City[]

  • Traverse City Police Department

Fire departments[]

  • Blair Township Fire Department
  • Fife Lake Springfield Fire Department
  • Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department
  • Green Lake Township Emergency Services
  • Long Lake Fire-Rescue
  • Paradise Emergency Services
  • Peninsula Township Fire Department
  • City Of Traverse City Fire Department
  • Whitewater Township Fire Department

Education[]

Grand Traverse County has many schools. TCAPS is by far the largest school district in the area, with its headquarters in Traverse City. All of its schools are located within the county, although some of the district itself extends into nearby Benzie and Leelanau counties. Other districts in the county are Forest Area, GTA, Benzie Central, and Elk Rapids school districts. There are independent Catholic schools in the county as well.

Economy[]

According to the Grand Traverse Economic Development Corporation, the largest employers in Grand Traverse County, as of 2017, are:[21]

# Employer Full-time
employees
1 Munson Healthcare 3,100
2 Traverse City Area Public Schools 1,800
3 Northwestern Michigan College 750
4 Grand Traverse Resort and Spa 550
5 Hagerty Insurance Agency 500
6 Grand Traverse County 500
7 Interlochen Center for the Arts 475
8 Grand Traverse Pavilions 415
9 Britten Banners 380
10 Tyson Foods 300

Communities[]

U.S. Census data map showing local municipal boundaries within Grand Traverse County. Shaded areas represent incorporated cities.

City[]

Villages[]

  • Fife Lake
  • Kingsley

Charter townships[]

  • East Bay Charter Township
  • Garfield Charter Township

Civil townships[]

  • Acme Township
  • Blair Township
  • Fife Lake Township
  • Grant Township
  • Green Lake Township
  • Long Lake Township
  • Mayfield Township
  • Paradise Township
  • Peninsula Township
  • Union Township
  • Whitewater Township

Census-designated places[]

  • Chums Corner
  • Grawn
  • Interlochen

Other unincorporated communities[]

  • Acme
  • Angel
  • Bates
  • Brookside
  • Cedar Run
  • Devils Elbow
  • Diamond Park
  • East Bay
  • Fivemile Corner
  • Hannah
  • Hilltop
  • Karlin
  • Jacks Landing
  • Mapleton
  • Mayfield
  • McManus Corner
  • Monroe Center
  • Munro
  • Neahtawanta
  • Neal
  • Old Mission
  • Palaestrum
  • Pavlovic Corner
  • Slights
  • Skegemog Point
  • Summit City
  • Walton
  • Williamsburg
  • Wexford Corner
  • Yuba

Indian reservation[]

  • Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians

Ghost towns[]

  • Archie
  • Bass Lake
  • Bartlett
  • Duck Lake Park
  • Hodge
  • Keystone
  • Kratochvil's Plat
  • Lakeside Resort
  • Mabel
  • Old Mission Point
  • Peninsula Resort
  • Traverse Point
  • Ransom
  • Walton Junction
  • Wylie

See also[]

  • Omeena County, Michigan
  • List of Michigan State Historic Sites in Grand Traverse County, Michigan
  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Grand Traverse County, Michigan

References[]

  1. ^ a b c "Bibliography on Grand Traverse County". Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University. https://www.cmich.edu/library/clarke/AccessMaterials/Bibliographies/MichiganLocalHistory/Pages/grandtraverse.aspx. 
  2. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/26/26055.html. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. http://www.naco.org/Counties/Pages/FindACounty.aspx. 
  4. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Government Printing Office. p. 141. https://archive.org/details/bub_gb_9V1IAAAAMAAJ. 
  5. ^ "Michigan Historical Markers". michmarkers.com. http://www.michmarkers.com/Frameset.htm. 
  6. ^ "Old restaurant may take on new owners". record-eagle.com. http://archives.record-eagle.com/2006/feb/02dills.htm. 
  7. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. https://www.census.gov/geo/maps-data/data/docs/gazetteer/counties_list_26.txt. 
  8. ^ "Timeline" (in en-US). Traverse Area Historical Society. August 4, 2016. https://traversehistory.wordpress.com/history/timeline/. 
  9. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial-census.html. 
  10. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. http://mapserver.lib.virginia.edu. 
  11. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/population/cencounts/mi190090.txt. 
  12. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/population/www/cen2000/briefs/phc-t4/tables/tab02.pdf. 
  13. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov. 
  14. ^ "The Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan: A Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church - Diocese of Gaylord". dioceseofgaylord.org. http://www.dioceseofgaylord.org/. 
  15. ^ "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS. 
  16. ^ Menendez, Albert J. (2005). The Geography of Presidential Elections in the United States, 1868–2004. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. pp. 222–227. ISBN 0786422173. 
  17. ^ "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". https://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/. 
  18. ^ "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections - State Data". uselectionatlas.org. http://www.uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/statesub.php?year=2008&fips=26055&off=0&elect=0&f=0. 
  19. ^ "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections - State Data". uselectionatlas.org. http://www.uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/statesub.php?year=2004&fips=26055&off=0&elect=0&f=0. 
  20. ^ "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections - State Data". uselectionatlas.org. http://www.uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/statesub.php?year=2000&fips=26055&off=0&elect=0&f=0. 
  21. ^ Grand Traverse Economic Development Corporation: Director's Report.

External links[]

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Coordinates: 44°44′N 85°33′W / 44.73, -85.55

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