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Keweenaw County, Michigan
Map of Michigan highlighting Keweenaw County
Location in the state of Michigan
Map of the U.S. highlighting Michigan
Michigan's location in the U.S.
Founded March 11, 1861 [1]
Seat Eagle River
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

5,965.96 sq mi (15,452 km²)
540.97 sq mi (1,401 km²)
5,424.98 sq mi (14,051 km²), 90.995%
 - (2010)
 - Density

4/sq mi (1.549/km²)

Haven Falls, on Haven Creek near Lac La Belle

Keweenaw County is a county in the Upper Peninsula of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is part of the Houghton, Michigan, Micropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the population was 2,156; it is the least populous county in Michigan. The county seat is Eagle River.[1] Isle Royale is a part of the county. The Keweenaw Liberty Library [2] is an online library containing links to legal documents and public records it deems to be "on issues important to" Keweenaw County, Michigan, and its constituent townships as well as the Keweenaw County Road Commission, which serves as the road commission for the county.

It is said that Keweenaw is "A Native American word meaning 'portage or place where portage is made,'"[2] See List of Michigan county name etymologies.


Keweenaw County is the northernmost county in Michigan. According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 5,965.96 square miles (15,451.8 km2), of which 540.97 square miles (1,401.1 km2) (or 9.07%) is land and 5,424.98 square miles (14,050.6 km2) (or 90.93%) is water.[3] Of all counties (or county-equivalents) in the United States, Keweenaw County has the highest proportion of water area to total area. In essence, 90.932 percent of the county consists of a significant part of Lake Superior, while only 9.068 percent is actually land. Isle Royale is its northernmost section. It is the largest county in the largest state east of the Mississippi River. See County statistics of the United States. Compare Marquette County, Michigan


  • US 41
  • M-26

Adjacent county (land boundary)

Adjacent counties (water boundary)

Adjacent Canadian district (water boundary)

  • Thunder Bay District, Ontario


As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 2,301 people, 998 households, and 604 families residing in the county. The population density was 4 people per square mile (2/km²). There were 2,327 housing units at an average density of 4 per square mile (2/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 94.96% White, 3.52% Black or African American, 0.13% Native American, 0.13% Asian, 0.17% from other races, and 1.09% from two or more races. 0.78% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 37.0% were of Finnish, 10.1% German, 8.7% English, 6.5% Italian and 5.6% French ancestry. 96.5% spoke English, 1.8% Finnish and 1.3% Spanish as their first language.

There were 998 households out of which 20.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.60% were married couples living together, 5.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.40% were non-families. 35.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.13 and the average family size was 2.76.

In the county the population was spread out with 22.50% under the age of 18, 6.40% from 18 to 24, 21.30% from 25 to 44, 29.40% from 45 to 64, and 20.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 116.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 104.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $28,140, and the median income for a family was $36,758. Males had a median income of $27,165 versus $21,667 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,769. About 7.40% of families and 12.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.00% of those under age 18 and 12.50% of those age 65 or over.


The Keweenaw County Courthouse (built 1866) in Eagle River

Polished native copper nugget from Keweenaw County. Keweenaw County copper mines were important producers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[5]

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.

The Keweenaw County Courthouse and Sheriff’s Residence and Jail in Eagle River faces Lake Superior. The courthouse was built in 1866, followed by the sheriff’s residence and jail in 1886, and then remodeled in 1925. In her book Buildings of Michigan, Eckert writes:

“Like a meetinghouse on a New England public square, and enclosed by a 3-foot (0.91 m) high public wall on the east and south sides, …transformed in 1925 into its present stark white classical appearance. The courthouse for this sparsely populated remote county is remarkable in its formality…These include the giant Doric columns with fillets and bases, a pediment forming a projecting portico, a modillioned cornice, and pedimented side dormers.” (p.481)

The courthouse still preserves its original appearance.

Sparsely-populated Keeweenaw County was a mining center in the later 19th century but in the 20th century turned into a resort community.

Keweenaw County elected officials

  • Prosecuting Attorney: Donna Jaaskelainen
  • Sheriff: Ronald J. Lahti
  • County Clerk/Register of Deeds: Marilyn Winquist
  • County Treasurer: Geri Hall
  • Drain Commissioner: Gregg Patrick
  • Mine Inspector: James Kaura

(information as of September 2005)

Cities, villages, and townships


Unincorporated communities

  • Copper Harbor
  • Eagle Harbor
  • Eagle River
  • Hebards
  • Gay
  • Lac La Belle
  • Mandan
  • Mohawk
  • Phoenix


  • Allouez Township
  • Eagle Harbor Township
  • Grant Township
  • Houghton Township
  • Sherman Township

National Parks

  • Isle Royale National Park
  • Keweenaw National Historical Park (part)

See also

  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Keweenaw County, Michigan


Further reading

  • Thurner, Arthur W. Strangers and Sojourners - A History of Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula (Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.: Wayne State University Press, 1994) ISBN 0814323960.

External links

Coordinates: 47°29′N 88°10′W / 47.48, -88.16

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Keweenaw County, Michigan. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.