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The City of Escanaba, Michigan is a port city, the third-largest city in the Upper Peninsula, and the Delta County seat of government.

Situated in Wells and Ford River townships, Escanaba borders Little Bay de Noc on the east. Gladstone is about eight miles to the north. The only other incorporated municipalities within twenty-five miles of Escanaba are the villages of Powers and Garden.

Both the City of Escanaba and Escanaba Township were named for the Escanaba River, which flows into Little Bay de Noc just north of the city. Escanaba Township is north of the city, but not adjacent to it. The southern portion of Gladstone is in Escanaba Township.

The chief routes to and from Escanaba are US-2, US-41, and M-35. US-2 runs eastward, from Escanaba, to St. Ignace and the Mackinac Bridge, passing through Gladstone and Manistique. West from Escanaba, it runs concurrently with US-41 until it reaches Powers, then continues west to Iron Mountain. US-41 connects with Marquette to the north, and with Powers to the west, then turns south to Menominee. M-35 runs northwest to Gwinn and, to the south, it follows the coast of Green Bay to Menominee.

Since Escanaba is only a couple of hours from Green Bay, and five or six hours from Chicago, out-of-state tourists are usually from Wisconsin or Illinois. Its biggest attraction is the waterfront, including the beach at Ludington Park, the yacht harbor, and Sand Point Lighthouse.

Built in 1867, the lighthouse is a story-and-a-half rectangular building with an attached tower made of brick, topped with a cast-iron lantern room housing a fourth-order Fresnel lens. Before it was deactivated in 1939, nine lightkeepers and their families resided at the lighthouse. In that year the US Coast Guard replaced the lighthouse with an automated crib light several hundred feet offshore. The Coast Guard occupied the building until 1985, using it as housing for seamen assigned to duty in Escanaba. Today, the structure is operated by the Delta County Historical Society and continues as an unofficial aid to navigation. It is open to the public during the summer months.

Downtown Escanaba is home to several businesses serving residents, local visitors, and tourists alike. These include coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores, and other retail businesses, including restaurants reflecting the Swedish heritage of the area.

In the early 1800s, there was an Ojibwa village in the area known as Escanaba, although there are various views as to its meaning. Also the Ojibwa name for the river, whose mouth is just north of the city. Some say that Escanaba meant "flat rock" while others insist that it the word for "red buck." In an 1830 treat, the river was spelled Skonawby. In "The Song of Hiawatha" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Hiawatha is depicted crossing the rushing Escanawba, a reference to the river.

Escanaba was first settled by European-Americans in the 1850s but was originally known as Sandy Point, for the sandy point jutting out into Little Bay de Noc. The first white settlers came for the lumber, which was prevalent in the region. On December 7, 1853, a post office was established, although it was spelled Esconawba. Alden Chandler was the first postmaster. In 1861, Escanawba was named the county seat.

By the time of the American Civil War, Escanawba was a significant shipping port, as iron ore mined in the Marquette Range, as well as lumber, were shipped out on barges from the port of Escanawba. This was of particular importance to the Union during the war. Iron ore was shipped out from Escanaba up until 2017.

The settlement was platted by Eli P. Royce in 1863. On June 28, 1864, the post office's name was changed to Flat Rock, but was restored to Esconawba later the same day.

Also in 1863, construction began on the Peninsula Railroad from Negaunee to Escanaba, and the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad began operations later that same year. Once completed, iron ore began to be shipped out by railroad as well as by barge. The railroad arranged for an ore dock to be built, and the builder of the dock, R.A. Connolly, later built the first frame house in Escanaba, as well as a hotel.

The spelling was changed to Escanaba on June 1, 1875, and Escanaba was incorporated as a village in 1866, becoming a city in 1883.

The focal point of this guide is on the City of Escanaba, Michigan. Appropriate resources for this guide include websites representing the government of the city, or the county, as it is its seat, as well as any individuals, businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, organizations, attractions, or events within the city.


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