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Wabaningo, Michigan is a small, unincorporated, resort community situated on an isthmus between Lake Michigan to the west, and White Lake to the east, south of the navigation channel that connects the larger lake with the smaller one.

Its setting might also be considered a peninsula, given that it is separated from the northern section by the channel, and there is no bridge. Wabaningo is also the location of the White River Light.

Built in 1875, and situated on the south side of the channel, the lighthouse served as a guide to the river until 1960 when it was decommissioned. Now owned by Fruitland Township, the lighthouse includes a museum, and visitors can climb the spiral staircase or view the original Fourth Order Fresnel lens. It is open to the public as a museum, with regular hours posted from Memorial Day weekend through the end of August, and is also open through September and October with reduced hours.

Wabaningo is accessed from the south by way of Murray Road, which ends at the navigation channel. The community has just a few short side streets.

Wabaningo is in Fruitland Township, Muskegon County, in the west-central portion of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Cities and villages within twenty-five miles of Wabaningo include Whitehall, Montague, Lakewood Club, Rothbury, North Muskegon, New Era, Muskegon, Roosevelt Park, Shelby, and Norton Shores.

Originally settled in the 18th century by the Grand River Band of Ottawa, although its organization began in 1895. The settlement was known as Sylvan Beach until a post office was established as Wabaningo on April 20, 1897, with John Nequist as postmaster.

The post office was closed in 1939, restored in 1944, and made a branch of the Whitehall post office under the name Wabaningo Station in 1954. The post office operated as a summer post office from 1897-1938, 1939-1942, 1944-1953, 1954-1965, and 1966-1999. Today, Wabaningo is no longer an acceptable name for postal deliveries, although Sylvan Beach is an acceptable name with the Whitehall zip code. Nevertheless, the community is known as Wabaningo.

The community was named for the leader of the Grand River Band of Ottawa, Wabiwindego, who signed the Treaty of Washington with the U.S. government in 1836. Anglicized, the name is used on the various buildings in the community, such as the recreation center and a local scouting camp. Additionally, a statue of Chief Wabaningo overlooks Lake Michigan.

In the mid-1800s, the strip of land between Lake Michigan and White Lake was a picnic spot for people working the lumber camps around Montague and Whitehall. By the end of the century, it had become a popular summer resort. The Wabaningo Hotel was constructed high on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, where it served visitors who arrived by ship through the White Lake Channel. Private cottages were built along the bluff in the early 1890s, and the Sylvan Beach Resort Company was formed in 1895. Built in 1906, the Wabaningo Club included a stage and accommodations for large social gatherings.

Paved roads and wider use of automobiles in the 1920s brought more people to the area, particularly during the summer months. Today, while Wabaningo is not a hot spot, it continues to attract people to the community.

The focus of this portion of our web guide is on the unincorporated community known as Wabaningo, Michigan. Governmental entities, businesses, industries, schools, churches, organizations, attractions, entertainment venues, and recreational opportunities within the community are appropriate for this category, although many of these are not yet found there.



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