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Situated nine miles from the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, the village of Northport, Michigan is on the east side of the peninsula, along Grand Traverse Bay, in the northwest Lower Peninsula.

The only other incorporated municipality within twenty-five miles of Northport is the village of Suttons Bay, about twelve miles to the south, while Traverse City is just under thirty miles to the south. The unincorporated communities of Omena and Peshawbestown are under ten miles from Northport, also to the south.

The main routes through the village are M-22 and M-201. M-22 loops north along Lake Michigan to Northport, then turns south along the West Arm of Grand Traverse Bay, while M-201 begins on the south side of Northport at M-22, then zig-zags to provide a path through the village, connecting with East Woolsey Lake Road, which continues north and northeast to Leg Lakes and Leelanau State Park.

Long before the first European-Americans came to the Leelanau Peninsula, the entire region was inhabited by Ottawa and Ojibwa tribes, whose settlements were largely along the lakeshore.

The current village of Northport is the result of the consolidation of two early communities, Waukazooville and Northport.

The earliest was Waukazooville, which was founded by the Reverend George Smith and Chief Peter Waukazoo, who moved a Presbyterian mission to the Ottawa people from Holland, Michigan to the Leelanau Peninsula to avoid a smallpox epidemic in 1848. Coming to the area by boat and canoe, they platted a regular townsite, complete with uniform lot sizes and streets, naming the community for the Ottawa chief. James McLaughlin and his son-in-law, William H. Case, who had been sent there as missionaries by the Waukazoo band of Ottawas at the Old Wing Mission in Holland, built the first house in Waukazooville in 1849.

In 1852, Deacon Joseph Dame platted another village nearby, naming it Northport, for its location on the peninsula. On June 13, 1856, a post office was established in Northport, which served both Northport and Waukazooville, with Aaron B. Page as postmaster. That year, a sawmill was built by William Voice.

Eventually, the two townsites came to be recognized as one community known as Northport. Several general stores were opened in the late 1850s, and new settlers came mostly from New York or Canada. As the largest town in Leelanau County in the late 1800s, Northport served as the county seat from 1863 to 1883.

Beginning on the Rev. Smith's farm, a cherry industry emerged in and around Northport that continues today. Growers shipped cherries to nearby cities and towns.

Including the former community of Waukazooville, Northport was incorporated as a village in 1903.

Today, Northport is both residential and a resort community, with a marina, a half-mile of public beaches, and a wooded walking trail. The village includes light industries, as well as retail and service industries serving local residents as well as year-round visitors. The village hosts several events throughout the year.

Northport's peak population was 648 in 2000, although it has also had populations above 600 in 1940 and 1990. In 2010, its population was 526.

The focal point of this portion of our guide is on the small village of Northport, Michigan. Appropriate resources include websites representing the village government, as well as local schools, places of worship, organizations, businesses, industries, attractions, events, entertainment venues, and recreational opportunities.


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