Benzie County, Michigan

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Benzie County, Michigan
Map of Michigan highlighting Benzie County
Location in the state of Michigan
Map of the United States highlighting Michigan
Michigan's location in the U.S.
Named forBetsie River
Largest cityFrankfort
 • Total859.64 sq mi (2,226 km2)
 • Land321.31 sq mi (832 km2)
 • Water538.32 sq mi (1,394 km2), 62.62%
 • (2010)17,525
 • Density49/sq mi (19/km²)
Congressional district1st
Time zoneEastern: UTC-5/-4
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Benzie County, Michigan
Map of Michigan highlighting Benzie County
Location in the state of Michigan
Map of the United States highlighting Michigan
Michigan's location in the U.S.
Named forBetsie River
Largest cityFrankfort
 • Total859.64 sq mi (2,226 km2)
 • Land321.31 sq mi (832 km2)
 • Water538.32 sq mi (1,394 km2), 62.62%
 • (2010)17,525
 • Density49/sq mi (19/km²)
Congressional district1st
Time zoneEastern: UTC-5/-4

Benzie County is a county in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the population was 17,525.[2] The county seat is Beulah.[3] The county was initially set off in 1863 and organized in 1869.[4][1] The name "Benzie" is derived from the French Riviere Aux-Bec Scies or "river of sawbill ducks" (bec-scie). Americans altered the pronunciation of the river's name, which became known as the "Betsie River". A similar alteration in pronunciation produced "Benzie".[1] At 321 square miles (831 km²), Benzie County is the smallest of the 83 counties in Michigan.

Benzie County is part of the Traverse City, Michigan, Micropolitan Statistical Area.


Benzie County, Michigan's smallest in terms of land area, is located in the northwest of the Lower Peninsula, in the "little finger" position of the mitten-shaped peninsula and is considered to be part of the Northern Michigan region. Lake Michigan is to the west, Leelanau County and the Leelanau Peninsula are to the north. Grand Traverse County and Traverse City are to the east. Wexford County is to the southeast and Manistee County to the south. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore extends into the northwest portion of the county. Crystal Lake is a prominent physical feature of the area. The Platte River rises out of a lake district around Lake Ann in the northeast of the county and flows southwest and the northwest into Big Platte Lake before emptying into Lake Michigan at Platte River Point. The Betsie River rises in neighboring Grand Traverse County, flowing southwest across the southeast corner of the county into Manistee County, where it bends northwest until just south of Benzonia where it receives the outflow of Crystal Lake and then flows mostly west through Elberta and Frankfort and into Lake Michigan.

Portions of the Pere Marquette State Forest lie within the county and offers several trails including a 10-mile (16 km) route along the Betsie River and a 5.8-mile (9.3 km) trail near Lake Ann. There are state forest campgrounds at Platte River and Lake Ann. The Betsie River State Game Area is located just east of Elberta. 50 miles (80 km) of the Betsie River is a state-designated Natural River from Grass Lake, just west of the Grand Traverse County line, to its inlet into Lake Betsie just east of Elberta. The natural and scenic richness of the area has made it a host to a variety of conservation, education, and recreation programs, including Crystalaire, the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, and others.

According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 859.64 square miles (2,226.5 km2), of which 321.31 square miles (832.2 km2) (or 37.38%) is land and 538.32 square miles (1,394.2 km2) (or 62.62%) is water.[5]


Adjacent counties[edit]


Historical population
Est. 201217,465−0.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]
2012 Estimate[8]

As of the 2000 census,[9] there were 15,998 people, 6,500 households, and 4,595 families residing in the county. The population density was 50 people per square mile (19/km²). There were 10,312 housing units at an average density of 32 per square mile (12/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 96.39% White, 0.28% Black or African American, 1.59% Native American, 0.16% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.39% from other races, and 1.19% from two or more races. 1.46% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 24.0% were of German, 13.5% Polish, 9.2% Irish, 7.6% American, 6.0% British and 5.0% French ancestry according to Census 2000. 96.8% spoke English and 1.9% Spanish as a first language.

There were 6,500 households out of which 28.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.2% were married couples living together, 7.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.30% were non-families. 24.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the county the population was spread out with 23.4% under the age of 18, 6.2% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 25.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 98.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.4 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $37,350, and the median income for a family was $42,716. Males had a median income of $30,218 versus $21,730 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,524. About 4.7% of families and 7.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.2% of those under age 18 and 5.2% of those age 65 or over.

Population in 1990: 12,200

Historic locations[edit]

There are eight historical markers in the County:[10]


The county government operates the jail, maintains rural roads, operates the major local courts, keeps files of deeds and mortgages, maintains vital records, administers public health regulations, and participates with the state in the provision of welfare and other social services. The county board of commissioners controls the budget but has only limited authority to make laws or ordinances. In Michigan, most local government functions — police and fire, building and zoning, tax assessment, street maintenance, etc. — are the responsibility of individual cities and townships.

Benzie County elected officials[edit]


Other affiliations[edit]

(information as of September 2005)

Cities, villages, and townships[edit]



Census-designated places (unincorporated)


Ghost towns[13]

  • Allyn Station (Pratts)
  • Almira
  • Aral
  • Cedar Run
  • Edgewater
  • Gilmore
  • Grant House (Homestead)
  • Homestead
  • Inland
  • Joyfield
  • Kentville
  • Melva
  • Osborn
  • Oviat
  • Platte
  • Platte River (Melva)
  • Pratts
  • South Frankfort
  • Stormer
  • Success
  • Wallin
  • Weldon

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Bibliography on Benzie County". Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University. Retrieved January 19, 2013. 
  2. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 26, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ County place names
  5. ^ "Census 2010 Gazetteer Files". Retrieved July 2, 2013. 
  6. ^ M-168 Endpoint Photos
  7. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved June 23, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Retrieved June 23, 2013. 
  9. ^ Statistical profile of Benzie County, Michigan, United States Census Bureau, Census 2000
  10. ^ Michigan Historical Markers
  11. ^
  12. ^ Diocese of Gaylord.
  13. ^ Dodge, Roy L., Michigan Ghost Towns of the Lower Peninsula ISBN 0-932212-64-6 ISBN 978-0-932212-64-1

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 44°38′N 86°15′W / 44.63°N 86.25°W / 44.63; -86.25