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Ludington, Michigan is the largest city in Mason County, and its county seat.

The city is bounded by Lake Michigan to the east, the mouth of the Pere Marquette River and Pere Marquette Lake to the south, and by Bryan Road and Lincoln Lake to the north.

The chief route to and through the city is US-10 and US-31, which run concurrently from the east side of Ludington to Scottville. M-116 runs along the Lake Michigan shore from the north, then turns east to meet US-10, while the latter terminates at Pere Marquette Lake. The Pere Marquette Highway forms a tiny section of the city's eastern boundary where it extends east along the railroad.

There are only a few cities and villages within twenty miles of Ludington: Scottville, Custer, Pentwater, and Fountain.

Given its proximity to Lake Michigan and several other lakes and rivers, it should be no surprise that Ludington is popular with vacationers and outdoor enthusiasts. The area became a magnet for summer vacationers as early as the 1890s. It has much to offer. Nearby is Ludington Park, a 5,300-acre recreation area that includes the Big Sable Point Light, Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness, and the Manistee National Forest. Ludington is also home to Cartier Park Campground. Situated on Lincoln Lake, the campground is owned and operated by the city.

The Ludington Light is situated along the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, at the end of the breakwater on the Pere Marquette Harbor. Established in 1871, the US Coast Guard transferred ownership of the lighthouse to the city in 2006, and it is operated and maintained in partnership with the Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association as an operational lighthouse. Ludington has several golf courses, and the city hosts annual and occasional events each year.

White Pine Village, in Ludington, is a living-history village depicting the late 19th and early 20th centuries through thirty historic exhibits, such as early homes, cabins, a chapel, and a general store. The former US Coast Guard Station in Ludington now serves as the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum, showcasing the history of the area and its industries, including its maritime history. It overlooks the North Breakwater Light and the docking site of the S.S. Badger, the historic Ludington carferry.

Ludington's peak population was 9,506 in 1950, although it has declined slightly each decade since to a current population of just over 8,000, it is estimated that it will increase slightly when the 2020 census reports are released.

Prior to its settlement by European-Americans, the area was inhabited by a number of Native American tribes, including the Ottawa and the Mascouten. In 1675, the explorer and Jesuit missionary, Jacques Marquette, traveled by canoe throughout the Great Lakes. On his way back to St. Ignace, he became ill and died on the shore of the lake that is now named for him.

While Father Marquette's interest was in establishing Christian missions, many of the first European-American settlers were attracted by the area's dense hardwood and pine forests, as well as its natural harbor, which was ideal for the forest industry. The townsite was platted by James Ludington, a Milwaukee lumberman, in 1867, although it was first named Pere Marquette.

Thanks to its harbor, the town served as a shipping center for lumber harvested in West Michigan. In 1874, the Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad reached the area, greatly enhancing the town's influence in the lumber industry. The railroad built a fleet of railroad car ferries to transport lumber and other products to markets on both sides of Lake Michigan, linking Ludington to Michigan and Wisconsin ports. Some of the large mansions that can still be seen on Ludington Avenue were built for lumber barons in the late 19th century, although many of them now serve as bed and breakfasts or as office space.

Besides those associated with the lumber industry, other early settlers included John P. Sedam, who came in 1847, and opened a general store there. A post office was established on June 1, 1864, with David A. Melendy as postmaster.

Ludington was designated as the county seat in 1873, as the village of Lincoln, the former county seat, was declining. Ludington became a city in that year. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Mason County Courthouse was built between 1893 and 1894.

The focus of this portion of our guide is on the municipal government, as well as other governmental facilities located within the city, and any businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, organizations, attractions, events, sports programs, and recreational opportunities.


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