Charlevoix, Michigan

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Charlevoix, Michigan
Aerial view of the town from above Lake Michigan; the small lake in the center is Round Lake and the larger one in the background is Lake Charlevoix.
Location in the state of Michigan
Coordinates: 45°19′5″N 85°15′30″W / 45.31806°N 85.25833°W / 45.31806; -85.25833Coordinates: 45°19′5″N 85°15′30″W / 45.31806°N 85.25833°W / 45.31806; -85.25833
CountryUnited States
 • MayorNorman (Boogie) Carlson
 • Total2.17 sq mi (5.62 km2)
 • Land2.05 sq mi (5.31 km2)
 • Water0.12 sq mi (0.31 km2)
Elevation594 ft (181 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total2,513
 • Estimate (2012[3])2,520
 • Density1,225.9/sq mi (473.3/km2)
Time zoneEST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST)EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes49711, 49720
Area code(s)231
FIPS code26-14780[4]
GNIS feature ID0623115[5]
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Charlevoix, Michigan
Aerial view of the town from above Lake Michigan; the small lake in the center is Round Lake and the larger one in the background is Lake Charlevoix.
Location in the state of Michigan
Coordinates: 45°19′5″N 85°15′30″W / 45.31806°N 85.25833°W / 45.31806; -85.25833Coordinates: 45°19′5″N 85°15′30″W / 45.31806°N 85.25833°W / 45.31806; -85.25833
CountryUnited States
 • MayorNorman (Boogie) Carlson
 • Total2.17 sq mi (5.62 km2)
 • Land2.05 sq mi (5.31 km2)
 • Water0.12 sq mi (0.31 km2)
Elevation594 ft (181 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total2,513
 • Estimate (2012[3])2,520
 • Density1,225.9/sq mi (473.3/km2)
Time zoneEST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST)EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes49711, 49720
Area code(s)231
FIPS code26-14780[4]
GNIS feature ID0623115[5]

Charlevoix /ˈʃɑrləvɔɪ/ is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 2,513 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Charlevoix County.[6]

Charlevoix Township is a separate municipal entity that completely surrounds the city and has 1,697-year round population. Typical of Northern Michigan towns, Charlevoix has a significant seasonal tourist population in the summer.



The short Pine River flows through downtown, past the Charlevoix South Pier Light Station, and into Lake Michigan

The city is situated between Lake Michigan and the western end of Lake Charlevoix, which drains into Lake Michigan through the short Round Lake/Pine River complex in the heart of downtown Charlevoix. The Charlevoix South Pier Light Station marks the opening of the channel onto Lake Michigan. Charlevoix's Round Lake has been called the best natural harbor on Lake Michigan. The only way to get from Lake Michigan to East Jordan, Boyne City and other sites on Lake Charlevoix by boat is via Charlevoix. As a result, much commercial, industrial, and recreational boat traffic passes through Charlevoix.

U.S. Coast Guard Station[edit]

The city of Charlevoix has a U.S. Coast Guard station located in its vicinity. Station Charlevoix has served in the waters of Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan for over one hundred years. The station originated in 1898 on the south break wall of the Pine River Channel, leading into Lake Michigan. It was officially commissioned as a United States Lifesaving Service Station July 5, 1900. During the early 1960s, the station was relocated to its present day location along the Pine River Channel's Lake Charlevoix end. The area of response for Station Charlevoix runs from Cross Village down to Leland, extending into Lake Michigan through Beaver Island and the North and South Fox Islands, and covers numerous inland lakes and waterways. Spring through late fall the 41' UTB and the 25' RB-S are in operation and during the winter months, the 14' ice skiff is put into operation. There is also a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla based at the Station. There are some USCG Auxiliary surface facilities occasionally moored at Station Charlevoix.

Major highways[edit]

The US-31–Island Lake Outlet Bridge, a bascule bridge in Charlevoix that carries US 31



Charlevoix Depot Museum is housed in the original train station; it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Regular intercity passenger train service ended on September 1, 1962 after the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) discontinued Traverse City, Michigan – Charlevoix – Petoskey, Michigan service. Freight rail service ended between Charlevoix and Williamsburg, Michigan in 1982 after Chessie System abandoned the track. The state of Michigan purchased the track between Charlevoix and Petoskey from the Chessie System Railroads and contracted Michigan Northern Railway to operate it. This section of track was removed in the 1990s because of a series of washouts and no rail freight customers in Charlevoix. Sections of this rail line now serve as a bicycle trail. The Charlevoix railroad depot now serves as a museum for the Charlevoix Historical Society.



Charlevoix is named after Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix, a French explorer who travelled the Great Lakes and was said to have stayed the night on Fisherman's Island one night during a harsh storm. It was during this time that Native Americans were thought to have lived in the Pine River valley.

Charlevoix was mainly initially settled by fishermen who were there by 1852.[10] Soon after its formation in the 1850s, Charlevoix entered into a short lived conflict with Jesse Strang, leader and namesake of the Strangite Mormons, and then king of Beaver Island. Relations between Charlevoix residents and the Strangites were often tense. In 1853, a gunfight broke out between the two groups as the townspeople refused to hand over a man who was called for jury duty on the island, an event known locally as The Battle of Pine River. When Strang was assassinated on June 20, 1856, many believed residents from Charlevoix to be responsible.

Portion of the historic Chicago Club, one of the several large resort communities that developed in Charlevoix around the turn of the 20th century.

A large dock was built at Charlevoix in 1864. It was incorporated as a village in 1879.[11]

In the 1880s, Several professors from the University of Chicago formed the Chicago Club Summer Home association. It wasn't long before the city became known as a resort destination. With three summer associations (the Belvedere Club, Sequanota Club, and the Chicago Club), a number of extravagant summer hotels, including The Inn and The Beach, and with rail service at two train depots on the Pere Marquette Railway line, (one depot for the Belvedere Club on the south side of Round Lake and one on the north side near the Chicago Club), Charlevoix became known as one of the nation's finest summer communities.

Charlevoix was once a popular destination for many passenger liners, including the Manitou, Alabama, North American, South American, Milwaukee Clipper, Illinois, and others.

During Prohibition, Charlevoix became a popular place for gang members from the Chicago area. The Colonial Club, a restaurant and gambling joint on the city's north side became known as a popular place for the Midwest's most powerful and influential. John Koch, the club's owner, kept automobile license number "2", only second to the governor – a telling sign of his influence.

The converted lumber barge Keuka served as a blind pig and speakeasy and sailed nightly between Boyne City and Charlevoix, hosting its guests in relative comfort. A murder aboard the ship and the pressure of US Treasury Department surveillance, however, forced the owner to scuttle the vessel in Lake Charlevoix.

Charlevoix City Hall

November 18, 1958, Charlevoix City Hall served as a makeshift morgue for the bodies of crewmen of the SS Carl D. Bradley after the lake freighter foundered in Lake Michigan during a severe storm. The USCGC Sundew, stationed at Charlevoix, was one of the first vessels to arrive at the search area and played a pivotal role in that night's rescue of the two surviving crewmen.

January 7, 1971 An unarmed USAF B-52C-45-BO, 54-2666, of the 9th BW, Westover AFB, Massachusetts, crashed into Lake Michigan near Charlevoix during a practice bomb run, exploding on impact.[citation needed] Only a small amount of wreckage, two life vests, and some spilled fuel was found in Little Traverse Bay. The bomber went down six nautical miles from the Bay Shore Air Force Radar Site and close to the Big Rock Point Nuclear Plant. Nine crew KWF.[12]

The City of Charlevoix suffered economically from the 1950s to the 1980s as the manufacturing base largely evaporated, the train lines to the city ceased operating, and the larger tourist hotels fell out of business, leaving many empty buildings. The city has recovered from this slump via many redevelopment projects that have improved the downtown area. The 1980s also brought many condominium developments in the area.

Charlevoix was home to Michigan's first nuclear power plant, Big Rock Point, which operated from 1962 to 1997.

Another major employer in the Charlevoix area has been the Medusa cement plant, located south of town off of US 31 near Fisherman's Island State Park. In the late 1990s the cement plant was bought out by Cemex, a transnational company from Mexico. In 2000 Cemex sold the plant to St Marys Cement Group. Until 2013 the cement plant was a frequent port of call for the oldest freighter on the great lakes, SS St. Marys Challenger.

After the 1996 murder of JonBenét Ramsey, who spent her summers in Charlevoix and had won a pageant in the town, Charlevoix became a regular haven for tabloid photographers, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Ramsey family. John Ramsey, JonBenet's father and husband of the late Patsy Ramsey, still resides in Charlevoix.

The infamous murderer Richard Loeb's family owned a summer estate in Charlevoix in the 1920s.

For a list of historical landmarks, see Charlevoix County.[13]

Special events[edit]


View of downtown Charlevoix
View of Round Lake from downtown Charlevoix

Charlevoix bills itself as "Charlevoix the Beautiful" on its promotional literature and on municipal signs around the city. This moniker was also the name of a book by prominent local "stone house" architect Earl Young.[17][18][19]

Nearby Northern Michigan tourist destinations are:

Media and culture[edit]

Charlevoix is primarily served by four newspapers: the Charlevoix Courier, the Petoskey News Review, the Traverse City Record-Eagle, and the Detroit Free Press. Most television and radio stations are based in Traverse City and serve all of the Northern Michigan region including Charlevoix.

Charlevoix has one movie tri-plex theater embedded within its downtown and no big box shopping outlets except for Kmart, having outlawed them after refusing Wal-Mart's proposed store on the edge of the city.

There is a community pool on the north side of town and a bowling alley on the south side near the Charlevoix Municipal Airport. Typical of small towns, high school athletic events are an integral part of Charlevoix's culture. During the winter, the town's basketball team draws much of the locals' attention.

Recently, a skate park was built on the south side of town with the help of donations. The Charlevoix Community Skatepark opened in 2006. The park is supervised by Cameron Canupp and Laura Stebe and helmets are required. Skateboards, Inline Skates and BMX bikes are allowed.

Several notable golf courses are built around Charlevoix: Belvedere Golf Club, Charlevoix Country Club, Dunmaglas, Antrim Dells, and the nine-hole Charlevoix Municipal Golf Course, which was once eighteen holes as part of the Chicago Club.

Skiing in the area is common winter sport in Northern Michigan, with the closest resort being Boyne Mountain near Boyne City.

Charlevoix used to be a "one stoplight town" until it received a second stoplight in the 1980s at the intersection of M-66 and US 31.

Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Joe Henry, who spent much of his childhood in Michigan, includes a song entitled 'Charlevoix' on his 1990 album Shuffletown.[citation needed]

Notable residents of Charlevoix[edit]



This climatic region has large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Charlevoix has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfb" on climate maps.[30]

Climate data for Charlevoix, Michigan (1981–2010)
Record high °F (°C)54
Average high °F (°C)29.1
Average low °F (°C)18.2
Record low °F (°C)−22
Precipitation inches (mm)2.34
Snowfall inches (cm)34.1
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)18.412.710.710.811.710.89.411.713.015.915.318.3158.7
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)16.310.
Source: NOAA[31]


2010 census[edit]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 2,513 people, 1,266 households, and 651 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,225.9 inhabitants per square mile (473.3 /km2). There were 2,201 housing units at an average density of 1,073.7 per square mile (414.6 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.2% White, 1.2% African American, 2.0% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.2% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.9% of the population.

There were 1,266 households of which 20.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.9% were married couples living together, 10.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 48.6% were non-families. 42.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.94 and the average family size was 2.61.

The median age in the city was 48.1 years. 17.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 19.8% were from 25 to 44; 31.3% were from 45 to 64; and 23.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.2% male and 52.8% female.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census [4] of 2000, there were 2,994 people, 1,375 households, and 812 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,465.8 per square mile (566.7/km²). There were 2,096 housing units at an average density of 1,026.2 per square mile (396.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.92% White, 0.27% African American, 2.84% Native American, 0.20% Asian, 0.43% from other races, and 1.34% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.24% of the population.

There were 1,375 households out of which 25.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.7% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.9% were non-families. 35.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.14 and the average family size was 2.76.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.6% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 26.4% from 25 to 44, 24.2% from 45 to 64, and 19.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 88.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,284, and the median income for a family was $42,853. Males had a median income of $31,544 versus $24,375 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,319. About 3.7% of families and 9.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.8% of those under age 18 and 9.1% of those age 65 or over.

Current issues[edit]

Charlevoix, like many Michigan resort towns, is suffering from a real estate slump as a result of decreased revenue in Detroit auto manufacturers.

Charlevoix has recently begun to contend with the prospect of urban sprawl. Following the construction of a K-mart plaza development in the 1990s, many businesses and the post office moved to this area. There was significant controversy in the 1990s over the decision to extend water pipes into rural farmland south of Charlevoix in order to build a new Charlevoix High School.[32][33][34] In the early 2000s, Charlevoix, led by Green Party Drain Commissioner JoAnne Beemon, successfully fought off a bid by Walmart to open a store along this new water pipeline on the south edge of town.[35][36]

From 2006–2008, Charlevoix has offered to host the LaSalle-Griffon Project, a project that seeks to the ruins of a shipwreck that may be Le Griffon.[37]

In late 2012, Charlevoix has a local controversy about an Onaway Stone fireplace that was donated and being constructed in east park with an annual operating cost of $6,700.00.[38]



  1. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-25. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-25. 
  3. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  4. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  7. ^ "Charlevoix County Transit System". Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  8. ^ "GRAND RAPIDS-CADILLAC-TRAVERSE CITY-PETOSKEY". Indian Trails. January 15, 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-28. 
  9. ^ "Pellston Regional Airport". Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  10. ^ Walter Romig, Michigan Place Names (Grosse Point: Walter Romig publisher, not dated), p. 111
  11. ^ Romig, Michigan Place Names, p. 111
  12. ^ Redlands, California: Redlands Daily Facts, United Press International, Unarmed B-52 crashes into Lake Michigan, Friday, January 8, 1971, page one.
  13. ^ "Michigan Historical Markers". Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  14. ^ "The Petunia Story ." Keep Charlevoix Beautiful . Oct 29, 2008 <>.
  15. ^ "Home ." Charlevoix Venetian Festival . charlevoix Venetian Festival Inc. . Oct 29, 2008 <>.
  16. ^ "Car Raffle". Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
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  20. ^ "". Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  21. ^ ",1494396 [ "The Drenth family holds a special place in Michigan running culture."". 2011-09-19. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  22. ^ "IAAF World Cross Country Championships - 1984 SENIOR MEN". Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  23. ^ Jeff Drenth Memorial Race: A Quarter Century of Tradition, Central Michigan University Athletics.
  24. ^ "Jeff Drenth, Venetian Races home page". Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
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  26. ^ "Traverse City Record-Eagle - News Story -". Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
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  29. ^ Hyster-Honig, Joan (November 14, 1993). "Do Gnomes Live Here? Life by the hearth never dull in builder Earl Young's fanciful stone abodes". Ann Arbor News. Retrieved March 8, 2011. [dead link]
  30. ^ Climate Summary for Charlevoix, Michigan
  31. ^ "NOWData – NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved November 29, 2012. 
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  33. ^
  34. ^ [6][dead link]
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  37. ^ "". Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  38. ^ "Charlevoix City Council puts fireplace project on hold". Petoskey News (Charlevoix, Michigan). September 4, 2012. Retrieved November 18, 2012. 

External links[edit]