Alpena County, Michigan

Alpena County, Michigan

Infobox U.S. County
county = Alpena County
state = Michigan

founded year = 1857
founded date = February 7
seat wl = Alpena
largest city wl = Alpena
area_total_sq_mi = 1695
area_total_km2 =
area_land_sq_mi = 574
area_land_km2 =
area_water_sq_mi = 1121
area_water_km2 =
area percentage = 66.13%
pop = 31314
census yr = 2000
density_sq_mi =
density_km2 = 21
time zone = Eastern
footnotes =
web =
named for =
logo =

Alpena County is a county in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2000 census, the population was 31,314. The county seat is AlpenaGR|6. It is considered to be part of Northern Michigan.

It was founded originally in 1840 as Anomickee County. In 1843, the name was changed to Alpena, a pseudo-Native American word — a neologism coined by Henry Schoolcraft, meaning something like "a good partridge country." [ [,1607,7-160-15481_20826_20829-54126--,00.html Michigan government on place names in Michigan] ] [ [ Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University, Bibliography on Alpena County.] ] This was part of a much larger effort to rename a great many of the Michigan counties at the time. [ [,1607,7-160-15481_20826_20829-54126--,00.html Michigan government on place names.] ]

Alpena County was officially organized in 1857. [ [,1607,7-160-15481_20826_20829-54126--,00.html Ibid.] ] [ [ Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University, Bibliography on Alpena County.] ]


Alpena County is in the northeast of the mitten-shaped Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Lake Huron and Thunder Bay are to the east, Alcona County to the south, Oscoda County to the southwest, Montmorency County to the west, and Presque Isle County to the north. Most of the county is drained by the Thunder Bay River and its tributaries. The Mackinaw State Forest occupies large tracts of land in the county. The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is located offshore adjacent to the county.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of convert|1695|sqmi|km2|0. convert|574|sqmi|km2|0 of it is land and convert|1121|sqmi|km2|0 of it (66.13%) is water.

The 45th parallel bisects the county, meaning it is half way between the North Pole and the equator. [ [ List of 45th Parallel markers, with links to pictures] ] [ [ 45th Parallel sign picture.] ]

Several islands in Thunder Bay are part of the Michigan Islands National Wildlife Refuge. There are automated lighthouses on Middle Island and Thunder Bay Island.

Geographic features

* Thunder Bay River
* Long Lake
* Grand LakeGlaciers shaped the area, creating a unique regional ecosystem. A large portion of the area is so-called Grayling outwash plain, consisting of broad outwash plain including sandy ice-disintegration ridges; jack pine barrens, some white pine-red pine forest, and northern hardwood forests. Large lakes were created by glacial action. [ [ Michigan regional geology.] ] Some of the inland lakes are truly massive. [ [ Top 20 Michigan inland lakes.] ]

Adjacent counties

Geographic Location
Centre = Alpena County
Northeast = Lake Huron
East = Thunder Bay
South = Alcona County
Southwest = Oscoda County
West = Montmorency County
Northwest = Presque Isle County

Major highways

US Highways


Michigan State Trunklines

*. [ [ Pictures of ends of M-72] ]

National protected area

* Michigan Islands National Wildlife Refuge (part)


As of the 2000 census, [ [ Statistical profile of Alpena County, Michigan] , United States Census Bureau, Census 2000] there were 31,314 people, 12,818 households, and 8,690 families residing in the county. The population density was PD mi2 to km2|54. There were 15,289 housing units at an average density of PD mi2 to km2|27|abbr=yes. The racial makeup of the county was 98.21% White, 0.25% Black or African American, 0.39% Native American, 0.33% Asian, 0.12% from other races, and 0.70% from two or more races. 0.58% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 24.9% were of German, 23.2% Polish, 9.6% French, 6.9% English, 6.5% American and 5.8% Irish ancestry according to Census 2000. 96.7% spoke English and 1.1% German as their first language.

There were 12,818 households out of which 29.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.30% were married couples living together, 9.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.20% were non-families. 27.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.93.

In the county the population was spread out with 23.70% under the age of 18, 7.80% from 18 to 24, 26.50% from 25 to 44, 24.90% from 45 to 64, and 17.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 94.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $34,177, and the median income for a family was $42,366. Males had a median income of $34,571 versus $21,962 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,566. About 7.70% of families and 10.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.10% of those under age 18 and 6.80% of those age 65 or over.


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 County operates three parks (and camp grounds) with beaches on local lakes, [ [ Alpena County Parks] ] namely Beaver Lake Park in Lachine; [ [ Beaver Lake Park] ] Long Lake Park in Alpena; [ Long Lake Park] ] and Sunken Lake Park in Posen [ [ Sunken Lake Park] ]

Elected county officials

* Probate Judge: Thomas J. LaCross
* Prosecuting Attorney: Dennis P. Grenkowicz
* Sheriff: Steven Kieliszewski
* County Clerk: Bonnie Friedrichs
* County Treasurer: Joelyn McCallum
* Register of Deeds: Kathy J. Matash
* Drain Commissioner: Donald Bartosh

(information as of September 2005)


* "none"Unincorporated
*Hubbard Lake


*Alpena Township
*Green Township
*Long Rapids Township
*Maple Ridge Township
*Ossineke Township
*Sanborn Township
*Wellington Township
*Wilson Township

Local events

There are many recurring local activities. [ [ Alpena Chamber of Commerce calendar of events.] ]
* Alpena Blues Festival, late June at The Alpena Fair Grounds and Merchant Building. [ [ Alpena Blues Festival.] ]
* Alpena County Fair, Alpena County Fairgrounds.
* Besser Museum Log Cabin Day, last Sunday in June. Approved by the Michigan legislature passed a bill to make Log Cabin Day an annual event to be held on the last Sunday in June. The Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan spotlights their own two log cabins on this day and celebrates by offering old fashioned, family-pleasing activities.
* Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival, second weekend in October. [ [ Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival] ]
* Habitat for Humanity-Alpena Area "Drive to Build" Charity Golf Outing
* Lafarge Downtown Alpena Riverfest, in mid-June. Family event centered on the Thundre Bay River, celebrating Alpena's lumbering history. Professional lumberjack shows, entertainment, music, storytelling, chainsaw carving, food, fun and games.
* Michigan Brown Trout Festival, a week in mid-July.
* Ramblin' Rods Car Show, second weekend in August at Mich-E-Kewis Park, Alpena. [ [ Reblin'Rods Car Show] ]
* Shelter, Inc. "Garden Walk", nine Gardens, all in Alpena, MI. 49707
* Sunrise Side Heritage Bike Ride, Second weekend in September. Ride Along Lake Huron Shoreline (US - 23) to Mackinac Bridge then South to West Branch (M-33).
* Thunder Bay Arts Council's "Art on the Bay" at beautiful Bay View Park in Alpena. A Juried Fine Arts and Fine Crafts Fair which coincides with The Michigan Brown Trout Festival. There are over one Hundred and Fifty Artist will fill more than 180 booths with their original artwork.
* Thunder Bay Maritime Festival takes place at 500 W. Fletcher Street, Alpena, MI. 49707. It is presented by the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve.
* Youth Sailing Instruction and Training is offered by the Alpena Yacht Club. [ [ Alpena Yacht Club training] ]

Local museums and landmarks

*The Besser Museum and Planetarium. [ [ Besser Museum home page] ]
*Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Historical markers

There are nine recognized historical markers in the county: [ [ Michigan Historic Markers] ]

* Alpena City Hall
* Alpena County Courthouse
* The Daniel Carter Family
* First Congregational Church [Alpena]
* Monarch Mill
* St. Bernard Catholic Church
* World's Largest Cement Plant
* Dean Dettloff
* Matt Plante

Other affiliations

*Alpena County is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gaylord. [ [ Diocese of Gaylord.] ]


[ "The Alpena News"] is the daily newspaper of record for much of Northeast lower peninsula of Michigan. For a complete list of other media, see Alpena, Michigan.


Bibliography and further reading

* [ Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University, Bibliography on Alpena County]

External links

* [ Alpena County Government]
* [ Alpena County parks]
* [ Alpena County Soil Survey, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Michigan State University Extension Service (soil, history, good general information)]
* [ Besser Museum home page]
* [ Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University, Bibliography on Alpena County]
* [ "Enchanted forest", Northern Michigan source for information, calendars, etc.]
* [ Thunder Bay Marine Sanctuary, Underwater Preserve and Museum]

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