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Situated on an isthmus between Lake Michigan and the northern section of Lake Leelanau, on the west side of the Leelanau Peninsula, Leland, Michigan is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP).

As a CDP, Leland has defined boundaries, unlike other unincorporated communities, although its boundaries are for statistical purposes only. The community is in Leland Township, and M-22 serves as its Main Street. The villages of Suttons Bay and Northport are the only incorporated municipalities within twenty miles of Leland, although Traverse City is about twenty-five miles to the south, and the unincorporated communities of Lake Leelanau, Suttons Bay, and Peshawbestown are within ten miles.

Leland is a ferry departure point, with service to both North Manitou Island and South Manitou Island. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is about twenty-five miles to the south.

The Leland National Historic District, also known as Fishtown, is at the mouth of the Carp River, bounded by the park, Main Street, Avenue A, and the harbor in Leland. Designated as a Michigan State Historic Site in 1973, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

Prior to its settlement by European-Americans, one of the largest and oldest Ottawa villages on the Leelanau Peninsula was centered at the area where the Carp (Leland) River flows into Lake Michigan. The village was known as Mishi-me-go-bing, which is a reference to the place where canoes run up into the river to land, because they have no harbor. As a traditional Native American fishing ground, there was a natural fish ladder at this location.

European-American settlers began to come to the area in the 1830s, and the white settlement was also largely a fishing village. In 1854, Antoine Manseau, his son Antoine Jr., and John Miller built a dam and sawmill on the river. Construction of the dam raised the water level by about twelve feet, transforming three natural lakes in the river into the single lake that is now known as Lake Leelanau. Before long, the settlers built wooden docks, creating a harbor for steamboats and schooners, which transported new settlers and supplies to the village.

The Leland Lake Superior Iron Company constructed an iron smelter north of the mouth of the river to process iron ore from the Upper Peninsula and charcoal made from local timber. The smelter operated from 1870 to 1884, when it was sold to the Leland Lumber Company, which operated a sawmill on the site. Up until the early 1900s, several other sawmills and shingle mills operated in the Leland area.

As a fishing village, commercial fishermen build wooden shacks to process trout and whitefish, and to service their fleets. The settlement around the fishing operations became known locally as Fishtown, and today the buildings are owned by the Fishtown Preservation Society, and remains home to a working fishery and charter fishing business.

Leland was the county seat of Leelanau County from 1883 to 2008, when the seat was moved to Suttons Bay Township to be nearer to the center of the county.

Beginning in the early 1900s, the village became popular with wealthy residents of Chicago and other industrial centers in the Midwest. They bought land and built summer cottages in Leland, arriving by steamer. Around the same time, resort hotels were built to house occasional or weekend visitors. Tourism and summer stays continue to be important to the economy of the region.

Leland had a year-round population of 377 at the time of the 2010 census, although it has a larger summer population.

The focal point of this portion of our guide is on the unincorporated community and census-designated place known as Leland, Michigan. Local businesses, industries, schools, churches, organizations, attractions, events, and recreational opportunities are appropriate topics for this category.



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