Aviva Directory » Local & Global » North America » United States » States » Michigan » Cities & Towns » Onaway

The City of Onaway, Michigan is situated in western Presque Isle County, near Cheboygan County, in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula.

The chief routes through the city are M-211 (Main Street), M-68 (Washington Avenue, State Street), and M-33, which joins M-68 in the southern portion of the city. Other routes include Glasier Road and Hayner Road (Lynn Street).

Like Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the northern part of the Lower Peninsula is sparsely populated. There are only three named communities within twenty-five miles of Onaway. The unincorporated community of Tower is just under four miles west of the city, the village of Millersburg is nine miles east, and Rogers City is just under twenty-three miles east-northeast.

Using a section of the former railbed of the Detroit & Mackinac Railway, the North Eastern State Trail is a 71-mile bicycle and hiking path from Alpena to Cheboygan, which passes through Onaway. Snowmobilers use the trail during the winter.

Onaway Area Schools provides a K-12 curriculum for students in the city of Onaway and seven surrounding townships, operating from one campus just outside the southern city limits. Within the city limits are the Presque Isle Academy, an alternative high school, the Industrial Arts Institute, which prepares students for professional careers in the welding industry.

Law enforcement for the city is contracted with the Presque Isle County Sheriff's Office, which responds from Rogers City. The Onaway Area Fire Department is stationed within the city, and services Onaway, Allis Township, and North Allis Township. Also headquartered in the city, the Onaway Area Ambulance Service provides prehospital care to the city, as well as Allis, North Allis, Bearinger, Case, Forest, Ocqueoc, and Waverly townships.

Listed on State and National historic registers, the Onaway Courthouse building houses the city hall, the Onaway branch of the Presque Isle District Library, and the Onaway Historical Museum. Once restorations are completed, the plans are for the museum to move to the Masonic Temple, which had been vacant for several years.

Prior to the early 1880s, the area that was to become Onaway was little more than a clearing along a trail, surrounded by wilderness, with some farmland.

Settlers soon started coming into the area, attracted to the timber resources and farmland. Among them were Merritt Chandler and his brother-in-law, Thomas E. Shaw. Chandler had been granted 40,000 acres of land from the state for his services mapping and building roads, while Shaw was the son of a sawmill operator. Both were well-educated Quakers.

A post office was established on October 23, 1882, and named Shaw, for Thomas Shaw, who served as the first postmaster. Chandler platted the townsite in 1886, naming it Onaiweh, a reference to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, Hiawatha. The post office was renamed Onaway on March 29, 1890, with Chandler as postmaster. On August 18, 1893, Shaw got the post office back from Chandler and had it renamed Adalaska, but it was changed back to Onaway on November 15, 1897, and the community was incorporated as a village, under that name, in 1899, becoming a city in 1903.

In 1899, the Detroit & Mackinaw Railroad came through, linking Onaway to Tower, and its population increased from around 500 to 1,200 within a couple of years. Onaway first appeared on a census roll in 1900, with a population of 1,204, and reached its peak population of 2,789 in 1930. Declining slightly each census year since that date, the city currently has a population of just over 800 people.

The focal point of this portion of our guide is on the City of Onaway, Michigan. Online resources for the city government, or any other governmental entities within the city, are appropriate for this category, along with local schools, churches, organizations, businesses, industries, attractions, events, sports programs, and recreational opportunities.


Faith & Spirituality

Services & Industries



Recommended Resources

Search for Onaway on Google or Bing