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Presque Isle, Michigan is an unincorporated community in Presque Isle Township, Presque Isle County.

The community, township, and county are named for the French presqu'Isle, which literally means "almost an island," and is French for "peninsula." Unlike Presque Isle, Maine, which is pronounced "presk aisle," in Michigan it is pronounced "presk eel."

The peninsula for which they were named is in the northern part of the township and connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land, known as a tombolo, or a sandy isthmus. There are two lighthouses on this peninsula, known as Old Presque Isle Lighthouse and New Presque Isle Lighthouse, the former situated on the lower eastern portion of the peninsula, the latter nearer the northern tip, and accessible by East Grand Lake Road. Both lighthouses have seasonal museums today.

The community of Presque Isle is south of this peninsula, and includes a post office, gas station, chapel, community center, library, and inn, although some of them are seasonal.

As unincorporated communities in Michigan don't have defined boundaries, combined with the fact that the township is also called Presque Isle, places surrounding the community may also be considered part of it.

The mainland to which the peninsula is attached is, itself, an isthmus, between Grand Lake and Lake Huron. Lake Esau and Lotus Lake are within that larger isthmus, in the southeastern part of the Presque Isle community.

The chief routes through the community of Presque Isle are East Grand Lake Road and East 638 Highway, while US-23 roughly follows the course of the southwestern shores of Grand Lake.

The only cities and villages within twenty-five miles of Presque Isle are Posen, Alpena, and Rogers City, although the unincorporated community of Lakewood is about ten miles to the south.

Frederick George Burnham was probably the first permanent settler in the community when he came in 1860 to engage in the cordwood business, eventually building a dock and boat landing in Presque Isle Harbor. Actually, he found the area because he was stranded in Presque Isle when the ship he was on ran aground. John Kauffman cut wood for Burnham for several years, and built a cabin for his home in 1862. The community grew around the John Kauffman homestead, which currently serves as the community center, although Kauffman moved it from the lakeshore to avoid snowdrifts.

European-Americans frequented the area prior to that time, however. The Old Presque Isle Lighthouse was constructed in 1840. Lemuel Crawford, a local logger, served as acting lightkeeper for about a month, after which four others tended the light for the next twenty years. Patrick Garrity was appointed lightkeeper in 1861. He and his wife bore five children while serving as lightkeepers of the 1840 lighthouse, and another after moving to the New Presque Isle Lighthouse, which was built in 1870.

The Great Lakes are known for their many shipwrecks, and the Presque Isle region is no exception. Its reefs and shoals are home to dozens of shipwrecks within the protected waters of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which extends from the western boundary of Presque Isle County to the southern boundary of Alcona County.

Early development in the county was delayed due to the lack of a navigable river. An 1839 survey contracted by the state reported that the land was worthless.

However, in the 1870s members of the Grand Lake Fishing and Sporting Club from Adrian, Michigan built a clubhouse in Presque Isle and added to it in later years. Thus began Presque Isle's popularity as a summer resort. Club members came by ship, arriving at Burnham's Landing until 1887, after which they began coming by stagecoach. The early 1900s brought increased tourism, hotels, and summer cottages.

A post office was established on April 7, 1884, with Mr. Burnham as the first postmaster. The office was closed on November 12, 1892, but was restored on April 6, 1899, and has continued in operation since.

Presque Isle also has a history as a location for youth camps. Opened in 1929, Camp Chickagami was formed by the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, a ministry of the Episcopal-Anglican Communion. Still in operation, the camp is now operated by the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan. Another was Kamp Kairphree, a girl's camp that operated from 1922 to 1927.A post office was established on April 7, 1884, with Mr. Burnham as the first postmaster. The office was closed on November 12, 1892, but was restored on April 6, 1899, and has continued in operation since.

Grand Lake is a 5,660-acre body of water that include nineteen small islands, the larger of which are Grand Island, Macombers Island, and Brown Island.

The focus of this part of our guide is on the community known as Presque Isle, Michigan.



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