Kalkaska County, Michigan

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Kalkaska County, Michigan
Map of Michigan highlighting Kalkaska County
Location in the state of Michigan
Map of the United States highlighting Michigan
Michigan's location in the U.S.
Founded 1871[1]
Seat Kalkaska
Largest village area_total_sq_mi = 570.76 Kalkaska
 • Land 561.02 sq mi (1,453 km2)
 • Water 9.75 sq mi (25 km2), 1.71%
 • (2010) 17,153
 • Density 28/sq mi (11/km²)
Congressional district 1st
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website www.kalkaskacounty.net

Kalkaska County is a county in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the population was 17,153.[2] The county seat is Kalkaska.[3]

Kalkaska County is included in the Traverse City, Michigan Micropolitan Statistical Area.


  • According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 570.76 square miles (1,478.3 km2), of which 561.02 square miles (1,453.0 km2) (or 98.29%) is land and 9.75 square miles (25.3 km2) (or 1.71%) is water.[4]

Geographic features[edit]

  • The county's name is a Native American, but its meaning is uncertain. The county was set off in 1840 as Wabassee County, and renamed in 1843. It was organized in 1871. [1]
  • Kalkaska County has over 80 lakes and 275 miles (443 km) of streams and rivers.
  • Much of the county is marshland.
  • County elevation ranges from 595 feet (181 m) to about 1,246 feet (380 m). This makes it one of the more uneven counties in the Lower Peninsula.
  • The Pere Marquette State Forest covers much of the county.

Glaciers shaped the area, creating a unique regional ecosystem. A large portion of the area is the so-called Grayling outwash plain, which consists of broad outwash plain including sandy ice-disintegration ridges; jack pine barrens, some white pine-red pine forest, and northern hardwood forest. Large lakes were created by glacial action.[5]




Adjacent counties[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 424
1880 2,937 592.7%
1890 5,160 75.7%
1900 7,133 38.2%
1910 8,097 13.5%
1920 5,577 −31.1%
1930 3,799 −31.9%
1940 5,159 35.8%
1950 4,597 −10.9%
1960 4,382 −4.7%
1970 5,272 20.3%
1980 10,952 107.7%
1990 13,497 23.2%
2000 16,571 22.8%
2010 17,153 3.5%
Est. 2012 17,099 −0.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
2012 Estimate[7]

As of the census[8] of 2000, there were 16,571 people, 6,428 households, and 4,634 families residing in the county. The population density was 30 people per square mile (11/km²). There were 10,822 housing units at an average density of 19 per square mile (7/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 98.44% White, 0.21% Black or African American, 0.78% Native American, 0.22% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.10% from other races, 0.86% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 24.6% were of German, 12.4% English, 10.4% Irish, 10.0% American, 6.3% Polish and 5.1% French ancestry according to Census 2000. 98.8% spoke English as their first language.

There were 6,428 households out of which 31.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.60% were married couples living together, 9.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.90% were non-families. 22.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the county the population was spread out with 25.60% under the age of 18, 7.60% from 18 to 24, 28.60% from 25 to 44, 24.50% from 45 to 64, and 13.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 101.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.90 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $36,072, and the median income for a family was $39,932. Males had a median income of $31,860 versus $20,455 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,309. About 8.20% of families and 10.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.20% of those under age 18 and 7.00% of those age 65 or over.


  • The first settler in Kalkaska County was an Englishman named William Copeland, who purchased land in the northwest corner of the county in 1855. The county was set off in 1840 and originally called Wabasee until 1843. [9] See, List of Michigan counties. The name Kalkaska is thought to be a Chippewa word meaning flat or burned-over country. An alternative theory is that this is a neologism or neonym created by Henry Schoolcraft, originally spelled Calcasca. Some theorists suggest this is word play. Schoolcraft's family name formerly was Calcraft, and the Ks may have been added to make the name appear more like a Native American word.[10] See also, List of Michigan county name etymologies.
  • Logging was the first important industry.
  • The discovery of substantial deposits of oil and natural gas resulted in the construction of a processing plant by Shell Oil Company in 1973 and a major economic boom in the community.


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.


  • The National Trout Festival is a festival held every year at the end of April. First celebrated in 1936, festivities include a parade, carnival, kids trout fishing contest, demolition derby, rodeo and livestock fair, among other things. It is a time when the community members and businesses come together to celebrate the heritage and sportsmanship of Kalkaska.[11]

Cities, villages, and townships[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Bibliography on Kalkaska County". Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University. Retrieved January 19, 2013. 
  2. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 28, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ "Census 2010 Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 2, 2013. 
  5. ^ Michigan regional geology.
  6. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Retrieved June 29, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Census.gov. Retrieved June 29, 2013. 
  8. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  9. ^ Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University, Bibliography on Kalkaska County
  10. ^ Michigan History, County Names.
  11. ^ National Trout festival, and picture of 'the trout.'

Further reading[edit]

  • Kalkaska Genealogical Society: Big Trout, Black Gold: History of Kalkaska County, Michigan. nd.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 44°41′N 85°05′W / 44.69°N 85.08°W / 44.69; -85.08