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Situated in the western Lower Peninsula of Michigan, the City of Muskegon is the seat of Muskegon County, and the most populous city along the western shores.

Muskegon is bordered by Lake Michigan to the west, Muskegon Lake to the north, and the Muskegon River empties into Muskegon Lake at the city's northeast end. As North Muskegon extends to the southeast banks of the Muskegon River, the two cities share a border. Muskegon abuts Norton Shores, Roosevelt Park and Muskegon Heights in the south, and Muskegon Charter Township in the east.

The chief routes to and from the city include US-31, which runs north-south through the eastern portion of the city, while Business US-31 passes through the downtown district, and M-46 is an east-west highway that intersects US-31 and continues downtown.

Besides Muskegon Heights, North Muskegon, Norton Shores, and Roosevelt Park, other cities and villages within twenty miles include Fruitport, Ferrysburg, Lakewood Club, Grand Haven, Whitehall, Ravenna, and Montague.

The population of Muskegon, as of 2022, is about 36,500, after declining for the past seven decades. Its peak population was 48,429 in 1950. Prior to 1950, its population had increased each decade since first appearing on a census roll in 1860, with the exception of 1900, when it decreased by just over eight percent.

The Muskegon area has been occupied for thousands of years prior to its settlement by European-Americans. Paleo-Indians came into the area after the glaciers retreated, and they were followed by several stages of Woodland Indians. The area was more recently occupied by various bands of Ottawa and Pottawatomi people, although only the Ottawa were there by 1830.

The name, Muskegon, is derived from an Ottawa word (masquigon) meaning "marshy river or swamp." The Masquigon River was listed on French maps as early as the late 17th century, but there is no evidence of any European-American settlement near Muskegon prior to 1748, when Edward Fitzgerald, a fur trapper, and trader, who lived the rest of his life here. Joseph La Framboise, a French-Canadian trader, established a trading post at the mouth of Duck Lake. By 1820, there were several fur trading posts along Muskegon Lake. Lewis B. Baddeau opened a trading post in 1834, followed by Joseph Troutier in 1835.

The settlement of Muskegon began in 1837, the same year that the Muskegon Township was organized, largely in support of the lumber industry, which brought several settlers to the area, including immigrants from Canada, Germany, and Ireland. Given its position on Lake Michigan, and its harbor, Muskegon also became a foundry town.

A post office was established in Muskegon on January 3, 1838, with Henry Pennoyer as postmaster. The office was closed on February 11, 1847, but reopened on March 2, 1848, and has remained open since that date. Theodore Newell, a sawmill owner, arranged to have the village platted in 1849, and Muskegon was incorporated as a village in 1861, becoming a city in 1869.

Some of Muskegon's neighborhoods, such as Bluffton, East Muskegon, and Lakeside, began as separate villages or communities, later absorbed by Muskegon.

Bluffton was a lumbering village at the mouth of the Muskegon River. Settled in 1862, a post office was established there as Millville on February 3, 1868, with Theodore B. Wilcox as postmaster. The office was renamed Bluffton on March 16, 1868, but closed on July 22, 1892. The community became part of Muskegon in 1889.

A post office was established in East Muskegon on July 27, 1857, with David W. Squier as postmaster. The post office was in operation until May 21, 1860, and the community was later absorbed by Muskegon.

Shupe, Haines & Weymouth opened a mill on Muskegon Lake in 1867. The mill was acquired by John W. Moon and Alexander V. Mann, who operated it as A.V. Mann & Company until 1889. The village that grew up around the mill was known as Lakeside, but when a post office was established on May 10, 1881, it was known as Ryerson, as there was another Michigan post office known as Lakeside. Albert W. Fowler was the first postmaster, and the office operated until January 28, 1890, although the village had been absorbed by Muskegon by 1889.

The city of Muskegon, Michigan is the focus of this portion of our guide. Appropriate resources for this category include the municipal and county governments, as well as local industries, businesses, schools, places of worship, organizations, attractions, events, sports programs, and recreational opportunities.


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