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The City of Norton Shores, Michigan is in the southwest corner of Muskegon County, in the West Michigan region of the Lower Peninsula.

The city borders on Lake Michigan to the west, and includes Mona Lake in the north, and most of Little Black Lake in the southern portion of the city. A few smaller bodies of water may also be found in the north. Black Creek, Ellis Drain, Seider Drain, and Yonkers Drain are within the city.

With a surface area of 695 acres, Mona Lake is a freshwater lake that flows into Lake Michigan through the Mona Lake Channel. In the late 1800s, there were several lumber mills along the lakeshore, but today it serves largely as a fishery for several varieties of game fish.

There is a public access boat launch at Mona Lake Park, on the north shore of the lake. On the south side of the lake is Ross Park, a 43-acre park with a sandy beach area, playground equipment, a picnic area, a volleyball area, and boat parking for those who want to come ashore. Lake Harbor Park is a 189-acre park along Lake Harbor Road, just north of the Mona Lake Channel, which has about 4,000 feet of waterfront on Lake Michigan, 2,000 feet on the Mona Lake Channel, and 1,500 feet on Mona Lake.

Adjacent to PJ Hoffmaster State Park, Little Black Lake is a 223-acre body of water in southwest Norton Shores. Often known today as Black Lake, it was named Little Black Lake because Mona Lake was originally named Black Lake. The state park occupies the space between Lake Michigan and Little Black Lake. Both the lake and the park are mostly in Norton Shores, but extending south into Spring Lake Township in Ottawa County.

The chief routes through the city are I-96, US-31, and Business US-31, all of which are in the eastern portion of the city. Other routes include Airline Road, East Sternberg Road, Lake Harbor Road, and Pontaluna Road.

Norton Shores borders the cities of Roosevelt Park, Muskegon, and Muskegon Heights to the north, Fruitport Township to the east, and Spring Lake Township to the south. Other cities and villages within twenty miles of Norton Shores include Fruitport, North Muskegon, Ferrysburg, Spring Lake, Grand Haven, Lakewood Club, and Ravenna.

The northern two-thirds of Norton Shores is largely residential, commercial, and industrial, while the remainder of the city has a generous amount of woodlands and open areas.

The Ojibwa, Potawatomi, and Ottawa people inhabited the area that would later become Norton Shores for hundreds of years before European-Americans came.

The current city was organized as Norton Township in 1845, its first settlers coming from what is now Spring Lake. The township was named for Colonel Amos Norton, a Canadian who took part in the Rebellion of 1837 in Lower Canada. Known as Robinson's Mill, the first sawmill in Norton Township was built in 1847 at the head of Black Lake, which is now known as Mona Lake. In 1850, Ira Porter established the Porter Sawmill and a fruit farm.

Norton Township originally include the townships of Fruitport and Sullivan. In 1855, Spring Lake Township was organized as a township in Ottawa County. That same year, the village of Black Lake was settled, with a railroad station and sawmill. A post office was established on April 10, 1866, with Fletcher Fowler as the postmaster. The post office operated until June 22, 1894. In 1880, Black Lake was renamed Mona Lake for Mona May, a daughter of Colonel May, the superintendent of the Grand Haven Railroad.

Norton Township was separated from Ottawa County in 1859, becoming part of Muskegon County. By that time, the area was becoming famous for its fruit farms, one of the largest of which was owned by G.N. Cobb, who also operated a box factory for fifteen years. With the closing of the lumber mills and the box factory, more residents began raising fruit, shipping their products from Lake Harbor.

In 1894, a summer resort was established on Lake Michigan and Mona Lake. Named for Charles Hackley, it was known as Hackley Park. When a post office was established there on February 26, 1894, its name was shortened to Hackley. George L. Erwin was the first postmaster, but the post office closed on November 17, 1897.

Through the efforts of the Norton Township Fire Department and the Norton Township Board, Norton Township was incorporated as a Home Rule city in 1968, at which time it took its current name. Currently, the city has a population of just under 25,000.

The focus of this portion of our guide is on the city of Norton Shores, Michigan. Topics related to the city or any local businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, attractions, events, sports programs, or recreational opportunities are appropriate for this category.


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