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Named for its position near the center of a 75-mile chain of lakes stretching from Ellsworth to Grand Traverse Bay, Central Lake, Michigan is on the southern shores of Hanley Lake and the northern shores of Intermediate Lake.

The Village of Central Lake is in western Antrim County, in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula. It is surrounded by Central Lake Township, although the municipalities are administered autonomously.

The chief routes through the village are M-88 and Old State Road, which intersect in downtown Central Lake. Ellsworth is 8.0 miles north of Central Lake, while Bellaire is 8.2 miles south, East Jordan is 14.0 miles northeast, and Elk Rapids is 21.5 miles southwest. The Mackinac Bridge, leading to the Upper Peninsula, is about ninety miles northeast.

With a population of 952 in 2010, the village's peak population was 1,307 in 1900. Between 1900 and 1930, its population declined by more than fifty percent, but it has been gradually rising since then, except for a slight decline between 2000 and 2010. The village is largely residential, with a campground, a public beach, a softball field, and an active downtown district. Given its location between two significant lakes, Central Lake is a popular vacation destination.

Situated in the middle of the Elk River Chain of Lakes, Hanley Lake is a 91-acre narrow body of water connected to Ben-Way Lake upstream via the Green River, and its major outlet on the southern end drains into Intermediate Lake. The closest public access point to the lake is in the Village of Central Lake. In interest to fishermen, the lake is home to largemouth bass, rock bass, bluegill, black bullhead, brown bullhead, yellow bullhead, black crappie, johnny darter, longnose gar, bluntnose minnow, muskellunge, yellow perch, northern pike, black chin shiners, common shiners, longear sunfish, white sucker, and walleye.

Just south of Hanley Lake, Intermediate Lake is a 1,569-acre body of water that is long in shape, and situated between Hanley Lake upstream and Bellaire Lake downstream, and connected to both by the Intermediate River. The Village of Central Lake is at the lake's northern end and, at one time, Intermediate Lake was known as Central Lake. Fish that have been reported in Intermediate Lake include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, rock bass, bluegill, cisco, longnose gar, logperch, muskellunge, yellow perch, northern pike, pumpkinseed, sunfish, white sucker, brown trout, rainbow trout, walleye, and whitefish.

Settled as a lumber town, a post office was established in Central Lake on April 26, 1869, with Stephen B. Davis as postmaster. In 1872, the settlement's first store was opened by James W. Wadsworth, son of Abram S. Wadsworth, founder of Elk Rapids. The village was platted in 1883, although it wasn't incorporated until 1895.

In 1892, the Chicago & West Michigan Railway (which later became the Pere Marquette Railway) established a station stop at Central Lake. With the benefit of the railroad, the new village grew quickly, reaching its peak population by 1900. However, with the depletion of the forests, the village experienced a sharp decline in its population that continued for three decades.

Today, Central Lake is a residential community whose economy benefits highly from outdoor tourism and summer vacation homes along the lakes.

With a focus on the village, appropriate topics for this guide include websites representing the village government, local businesses, schools, places of worship, organizations, attractions, and events.


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