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Situated on the north shore of Lake Michigan, at the mouth of the Manistique River, the city of Manistique, Michigan is the county seat of Schoolcraft County.

The city is in the southern part of the county, Manistique is at the mouth of the Manistique River, which forms a natural harbor on the north shore of Lake Michigan. Just outside of the city limits, the 8,659-acre Indian Lake is northwest of Manistique. Just north of the city, the Indian River connects the lake with the Manistique River. A portion of Southtown Creek flows through the southwestern part of the city.

The chief route through the city is US-2 (Lakeshore Drive). Other routes include M-94, CR-440, and CR-442.

Like many Upper Peninsula communities, Manistique is relatively isolated. The only incorporated city or village within forty miles of the city is the small village of Garden, over twenty miles southwest of Manistique. Other cities and villages within sixty miles of the city include Munising, Gladstone, Escanaba, Chatham, and Newberry. The unincorporated communities of Cooks and Gulliver are about fifteen miles from Manistique.

The first known inhabitants of the area were the Chippewa people. However, following the War of 1812, the father of Antoine Ossawinamakee was granted a portion of Schoolcraft County, upon which a settlement was made. The main part of the settlement, consisting of about a dozen homes, was on Indian Lake, about three miles from the current site of Manistique. In 1833, Father Frederic Baraga established his first Native American mission on Indian Lake, converting all but one of the inhabitants to Catholicism. He went on to conduct mission work in several other areas, but visited the Indian Lake Mission Church often.

Surveys of this portion of the Northwest Territories began in the 1820s, after which the federal government began issuing land grants. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft came to the Great Lakes region as a member of a surveying expedition but, in 1822, he was appointed Superintendent for Native American Affairs for Michigan, and. he was primarily responsible for the Treaty of March 28, 1836, in which the U.S. government acquired title to the northern third of the Lower Peninsula and the eastern half of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The first European-American settlers came in 1852 to settle on the east side of what was then the Monistique River. The early settlers were primarily engaged in fishing and trapping, and the largest landowner was Charles T. Harvey, who had been granted several thousand acres of UP land for his engineering work on the Soo Canal.

Harvey's landholdings included the mouth and both sides of the Monistique River, and he worked with the firm of Spinney and Boyd to have a dam built on the river in 1860 to supply power to the firm's lumber mill. He named the community that grew up around his mill Epsport, which was his wife's family name. By 1865, there were five buildings and a summer population of about thirty in Epsport. By 1870, there was the sawmill, as well as a store, a boardinghouse, four homes, eight additional buildings, two lumber slips in the harbor, and a population of about six hundred.

Schoolcraft County was organized in 1871, at which time it included what is now Alger County, with the county seat in Onota. In 1879, the county seat was moved to Epsport and, in 1879, the county boundaries were redrawn to exclude Alger County.

Eventually, the Chicago Lumber Company would own most of Schoolcraft County, as well as river and forest rights. The company took an active part in the continued development of Epsport, laying out streets, opening a company store, and building homes for workers. The original sawmill was replaced by a larger one, and a shingle mill and lathe mill were added. Additional slips were built in the harbor, and tramways were built to transport lumber from the mill to the slips, where they could be loaded onto schooners. In time, a bridge was built over the river.

A post office was established on March 17, 1873, with William M. Colwell as postmaster. In 1883, the community was incorporated as a village. The intended spelling was Monistique, for the river but, due to a clerical error in the filing, it was named Manistique, and the river was later assigned that spelling, as well. Manistique became a city in 1901.

Today, the city's economy is heavily dependent upon tourism from Lake Michigan and nearby Indian Lake State Park and Palms Book State Park. With a peak population of 6,380 in 1920, Manistique's current population is just under three thousand. Since 1920, its population has declined each census year except 1940 and 2000.

The focus of this category is on the city of Manistique, Michigan. Topics related to the municipal or county government, or any businesses, industries, schools, churches, attractions, and events are appropriate.


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