Alpena County, Michigan

Alpena County, Michigan

Map of Michigan highlighting Alpena County
Location in the U.S. state of Michigan
Map of the United States highlighting Michigan
Michigan's location in the U.S.
Founded February 7[1], 1857
Seat Alpena
Largest city Alpena
  Total 1,695 sq mi (4,390 km2)
  Land 572 sq mi (1,481 km2)
  Water 1,123 sq mi (2,909 km2), 66%
  (2010) 29,598
  Density 66/sq mi (25/km²)
Congressional district 1st
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Alpena County is a county located in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the population was 29,598.[2] The county seat is Alpena.[3] It is considered to be part of Northern Michigan.

Alpena County comprises the Alpena, MI Micropolitan Statistical Area.


A detail from A New Map of Michigan with its Canals, Roads & Distances (1842) by Henry Schenck Tanner, showing Alpena County as Anamickee, the county's name from 1840 to 1843.[4] Several nearby counties are also shown with names that would later be changed.

The county was created by the Michigan Legislature in 1840 as Anamickee County, then renamed in 1843 to Alpena County,[4] a pseudo-Native American word — a neologism coined by Henry Schoolcraft, meaning "a good partridge country."[1][5][6][7] This was part of a much larger effort to rename a great many of the Michigan counties at the time.[7] It was officially organized in 1857.[1][7]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,695 square miles (4,390 km2), of which 572 square miles (1,480 km2) is land and 1,123 square miles (2,910 km2) (66%) is water.[8]

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.

The 45th parallel bisects the county, meaning it is half way between the North Pole and the equator.[9][10]

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

Glaciers 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.[11] Some of the inland lakes are truly massive.[12]

Adjacent counties

Major highways

National protected area


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201528,803[13]−2.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[14]
1790-1960[15] 1900-1990[16]
1990-2000[17] 2010-2013[2]

The 2010 United States Census[18] indicates Alpena County had a 2010 population of 29,598. This is a decrease of -1,716 people from the 2000 United States Census. Overall, the county had a -5.5% growth rate during this ten-year period. In 2010 there were 12,791 households and 8,164 families in the county. The population density was 51.8 per square mile (20.0 square kilometers). There were 16,053 housing units at an average density of 28.1 per square mile (10.8 square kilometers). 97.5% of the population were White, 0.5% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.3% Black or African American, 0.1% of some other race and 1.1% of two or more races. 1.0% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race). 26.8% were of German, 19.5% Polish, 12.9% French, French Canadian or Cajun, 8.1% English, 6.4% Irish and 5.7% American ancestry.[19]

There were 12,791 households out of which 25.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.0% were husband and wife families, 9.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 36.2% were non-families, and 30.8% were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.81.

In the county the population was spread out with 20.9% under age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 20.8% from 25 to 44, 31.5% from 45 to 64, and 19.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females there were 96.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.1 males.

The 2010 American Community Survey 3-year estimate[18] indicates the median income for a household in the county was $36,242 and the median income for a family was $46,718. Males had a median income of $27,002 versus $15,670 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,713. About 2.5% of families and 16.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.2% of those under the age 18 and 10.0% of those age 65 or over.


Alpena County is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gaylord.[20]


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,[21] namely Beaver Lake Park in Lachine;[22] Long Lake Park in Alpena;[23] and Sunken Lake Park in Posen[24]

Elected officials

(information as of May 2012)


There are many recurring local activities.[28]


The Alpena News[34] is the daily newspaper of record for much of Northeast lower peninsula of Michigan. For a complete list of other media, see Alpena, Michigan.

Arts and culture


Historical markers

There are seven recognized historical markers in the county:[36]




Unincorporated communities


See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Bibliography on Alpena County". Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University. Retrieved 2016-11-04.
  2. 1 2 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
  3. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  4. 1 2 Newberry Library. "Michigan: Individual County Chronologies". Atlas of County Historical Boundaries. Retrieved 2016-11-04.
  5. Romig, Walter (October 1, 1986) [1973]. Michigan Place Names: The History of the Founding and the Naming of More Than Five Thousand Past and Present Michigan Communities. Great Lakes Books Series (Paperback). Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 081431838X. ISBN 978-0814318386.
  6. Herron, Catherine (original 1962). Herron, Nelson R., ed. "A History of the Place Names of Alpena County". Wilderness Chronicle (published 1991–1992) (19–21). Archived from the original on July 15, 2004. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. 1 2 3 "Michigan government on place names". Retrieved January 18, 2013.
  8. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2014.
  9. "45th Parallel North America".
  10. "Google Groups".
  11. "NPWRC :: Regional Landscape".
  12. Top 20 Michigan inland lakes.
  13. "County Totals Dataset: Population, Population Change and Estimated Components of Population Change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  14. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on May 11, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2014.
  15. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved September 18, 2014.
  16. "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 18, 2014.
  17. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 18, 2014.
  18. 1 2 "American Factfinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  19. Data Access and Dissemination Systems (DADS). "American FactFinder".
  20. "The Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan : A Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church - Diocese of Gaylord".
  21. Alpena County Parks
  22. Beaver Lake Park
  23. Long Lake Park
  24. Sunken Lake Park
  25. Michigan Bar Journal, April 2012, p. 59
  26. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Alpena County Directory (PDF). 2011–2012. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  27. 1 2 3 4 5 Michigan Bar Journal, April 2012, p. 113
  28. Alpena Chamber of Commerce calendar of events.
  29. "Alpena Blues Festival". alpenablues.
  30. "Log into Facebook - Facebook". Facebook.
  31. "Lighthouse Festival - Lighthouse Festival". Lighthouse Festival.
  32. Reblin'Rods Car Show
  33. "Alpena Yacht Club - Sailing School - Alpena, Michigan".
  34. The Alpena News
  35. Neighbor Hub. "Home - Besser Museum".
  36. "Michigan Historical Markers".

External links

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Coordinates: 45°02′N 83°12′W / 45.04°N 83.20°W / 45.04; -83.20

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