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

Although administered separately, the city of Owosso, Michigan is mostly surrounded by Owosso Township, although a portion of it extends east to border Caledonia Township, in north-central Shiawassee County.

The census-designated place and unincorporated community of Middletown borders Owosso in the southeast, between Owosso and Corunna.

M-21 (Main Street) and M-52 (Shiawassee Street) intersect in the center of the city, while M-71 (Corunna Avenue) enters the city in the southeast and terminates at M-21.

Cities and villages within twenty miles of Owosso include Corunna, Vernon, Ovid, Oakley, Morrice, Bancroft, Durand, Perry, Lennon, Laingsburg, Chesaning, Elsie, New Lothrop, Gaines, Byron, St. Johns, and Swartz Creek.

The peak population of Owosso was 17,179 in 1970. Since then, the city has declined each census year to a current population below 15,000.

Owosso is the headquarters of the Great Lakes Central Railroad, which provides freight service throughout the Lower Peninsula, as well as chartered passenger rail service and tours through a cooperative agreement with Lake Central Rail Tours. At various times in its history, Owosso has had railroad stations for various railroad companies, including the Ann Arbor Railroad, the New York Central Railroad, the Michigan Central Railway, and the Grand Trunk Western Railroad.

The Owosso Police Department dates back to the early 1900s, and is currently housed in the Department of Public Safety Building on Water Street, and funded mostly through the city's general fund. The Owosso Fire Department began as four companies formed by volunteers in 1876. These companies were disbanded in 1890 when the city assumed control, forming a volunteer fire department, which evolved into a full-time department in 1907. Funded through the general fund, the department operates fire and EMS services.

The public PK-12 education provider for the city is Owosso Public Schools, which operates Bentley Bright Beginnings, Emerson Elementary School, Bryant Elementary School, Central Elementary School, Owosso Middle School, Owosso High School, and Lincoln Alternative High School.

Other schools operating within the city include Spring Vale Christian School (PK-12), St. Paul Catholic School (K-8), Salem Lutheran School (PK-8), and Sycamore Tree Christian Preschool.

Baker College is a non-profit private college that relocated its main campus from Flint to the southern part of Owosso in 2020.

Although Owosso is the largest city in Shiawassee County, the county seat is a few miles to the southeast, in Corunna. At the time that the county was surveyed, the land was inhabited by a Chippewa tribe headed by Chief Wassa, and it was from him that the city's name was derived.

The first European-American land acquisition in the area that was to become Owosso was made by Benjamin O. and Alfred L. Williams on August 2, 1833, although Elias Comstock, Lewis Findley, and Findley's son-in-law, Kilburn Bedell, were the first to settle in the township in 1835. The first building constructed within the area of the city itself was a double log house built near the Shiawassee River by John D. Overton and David Van Wormer, who was employed by Mr. Comstock. In 1837, a millrace, sawmill, and dam were built, along with a log trading post at what is now the intersection of Main and Water Streets.

Originally, the fledgling community was known as Big Rapids but, when a post office was established on November 4, 1838, it was named Owasso. Daniel Ball was the first postmaster.

Steamboats and flat-bottom boat transports were operating in the river prior to 1839, the railroad was built to the area in 1857, and the city was incorporated in 1859. Its population was approximately one thousand at that time.

Although the current spelling was in common use by 1844, the name of the city and post office was not officially changed to Owosso until the summer of 1875.

By the early 1870s. Owosso was a major railroad town, which contributed to the city's economy directly, as well as supported the growth of several other industries. Although automobiles were not manufactured in Owosso, local companies were involved in the manufacture of car bodies and trim, batteries, electric motors, and other automobile components.

Although the city still supports several industries, it has experienced a sharp decline since the 1970s, which is reflected in a gradual population decline each census year since 1970.

The focus of this portion of our guide is on the City of Owosso, Michigan. Online resources for the municipal government, any other governmental bodies within the city, as well as local businesses, industries, educational institutions, places of worship, organizations, attractions, events, and recreational opportunities, are appropriate for this category.


Education & Instruction

Faith & Spirituality



Recommended Resources

Search for Owosso on Google or Bing