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Situated on the shores of Lake Michigan to the east, and Betsie Lake to the south, Frankfurt is in the northwestern Lower Peninsula of Michigan.

Frankfort is just north of Elberta, along M-22. M-115 (Frankfort Highway) has its western terminus in the city. Other routes to and from the city include Betsie Valley Trail and Carlson Road. The center of Elberta is 2.1 miles from the center of Frankfort. Other nearby cities and villages are Beulah, Benzonia, Honor, and Thompsonville.

Frankfort is near the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, billing itself as the gateway to the 35-mile-long stretch of Lake Michigan's eastern coastline. The city is also near Interlochen State Park, which includes one of only two remaining stands of virgin Eastern White Pine in the Lower Peninsula.

There are also two lighthouses in the area. Built in 1912, the Frankfort Light is on the north breakwater in the Frankfort harbor, known as Aux Becs Scies. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005, the US Coast Guard transferred ownership of the light to the City of Frankfort in 2011. Just north of Frankfort is the Point Betsie Light, which was completed in 1858, originally under the auspices of the US Life-Saving Service, and later the US Coast Guard. Under the terms of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, the station was transferred to Benzie County in 2004 and is currently maintained by the Friends of Point Betsie Lighthouse. It is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country, and a popular tourist attraction.

Although Frankfort is on Lake Michigan, its population hasn't changed much since 1890. Its peak population was 1,690 in 1960, and its current population is just short of 1,300, after five decades of slight population declines.

Although others are believed to have lived in the area prior, the first European-American known to have purchased land in the area that was to become Frankfort was Joseph Oliver, who bought fourteen acres between Lake Michigan and Lake Aux Becs Skies (Betsie Lake) in 1850, where he cut trees, built a log cabin, hunted, and fished. George W. Tift, a land investor, later purchased most of the land around the lake, but there is no record of his having ever moved onto his land.

In 1859, a Detroit group, which included Ransom Gardiner, George S. Frost, and others, purchased Tift's land, and began the development of a town. A sawmill was built, and Louis A. Doby was hired to represent the developers, while John H. Adams was engaged to supervise the development. Soon, Doby had a contract to dredge a new channel, so that the harbor could be accessed by all types of craft. He also constructed a building for the company that served as a hotel and store.

Then came the American Civil War, and development stalled during the war years. Early settlers, however, included William H. Cogshall, who built a large home that was also used as a hotel and for religious and political meetings. Dr. Alonzo J. Slyfield purchased the second lot sold and later served as the keeper of the Point Betsie Lighthouse for twenty-two years. A post office was established on June 30, 1860, with William H. Cogshall as postmaster. The post office was closed on September 1, 1865, but restored on February 17, 1868, with Nathaniel W. Nelson as postmaster.

After the Civil War, the US government began making improvements on the Aux Becs Scies harbor. The channel that Doby had hoped to build was dredged between the two lakes. Several new settlers soon arrived, stores were built, and a large hotel - the Delbridge House - opened. Frankfort was incorporated as a village in 1874, and as a city in 1935.

Despite the city's low year-round population, the area is popular with tourists, who come, not only for Lake Michigan, but for outdoor recreation opportunities provided by the nearby forests, lakes, and rivers.

The focus of this guide is on the city of Frankfort, Michigan. Appropriate resources include websites representing the city itself, as well as local individuals, businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, organizations, attractions, events, and recreational and sports facilities, programs, and opportunities.


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