Escanaba, Michigan

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Escanaba, Michigan
The Sand Point Lighthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Nickname(s): Esky
Location in the state of Michigan
Location in the state of Michigan
Coordinates: 45°44′43″N 87°3′52″W / 45.74528°N 87.06444°W / 45.74528; -87.06444Coordinates: 45°44′43″N 87°3′52″W / 45.74528°N 87.06444°W / 45.74528; -87.06444
Country United States
State Michigan
County Delta
 • Mayor Marc Tall
 • Total 16.50 sq mi (42.73 km2)
 • Land 12.88 sq mi (33.36 km2)
 • Water 3.62 sq mi (9.38 km2)
Elevation 607 ft (183 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 12,616
 • Estimate (2016)[3] 12,327
 • Density 760/sq mi (300/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 49829
Area code(s) 906
FIPS code 26-26360[4]
GNIS feature ID 1619865[5]

Escanaba (/ˌɛskəˈnɑːbə/ ESS-kə-NAH-bə) is a port city in Delta County in the U.S. state of Michigan, located on Little Bay de Noc in the state's Upper Peninsula. The population was 12,616 at the 2010 census, making it the third-largest city in the Upper Peninsula after Marquette and Sault Ste. Marie. It is the seat of government of Delta County.[6]

There is also Escanaba Township, which is north of the city and is not adjacent to it, although a portion of the urban area around the city extends into the township. Both are named for the Escanaba River, which flows into the Little Bay de Noc of Lake Michigan just north of the city at 45°46′37″N 87°03′30″W / 45.77694°N 87.05833°W / 45.77694; -87.05833. The names are derived from the Ojibwa language.


Escanaba was the name of an Ojibwa village in this area in the early 19th century.[7] The Ojibwa were one of the Anishinaabe, Algonquian-speaking tribes who settled and flourished around the Great Lakes. The word "Escanaba" roughly translates from Ojibwe and other regional Algonquian languages to "land of the red buck", although some people maintain that it refers to "flat rock".

As a European-American settlement, Escanaba was founded in 1863 as a port town by surveyor Eli P. Royce. Early industry was the processing and harvesting of lumber, dominated in this area by Daniel Wells Jr., Jefferson Sinclair, and Nelson Ludington. Ludington later moved his headquarters to Chicago, where he also entered banking. I. Stephenson established a successor lumber company in the area and also became a capitalist.

Before the war, iron ore was being mined from the Marquette Range, which shipped out on barges from Escanaba. By the time of the American Civil War, this port was important to the Union as a shipping point for these ores, in addition to lumber. The Menominee Range and Gogebic Range of Michigan became important for iron ore after the war, in the 1880s. Michigan still produces about 25% of the iron ore nationally. Initially lumber was still integral to shipbuilding, and supported the construction of houses in cities throughout the developing Midwest. Iron ore supported industrialization, and became part of steel and other industries in the Midwest.

As shipping increased, a lighthouse was needed to warn of a sand shoals in Little Bay de Noc, which extended from Sand Point, a sandspit located just south of and adjacent to the harbor area. The United States Lighthouse Service approved construction of the Sand Point Lighthouse at a cost of $11,000. Construction began in the fall of 1867 and was completed in early spring 1868. It was deactivated in 1939, and was used by the United States Coast Guard to house seamen assigned to Escanaba. The building was completely restored to its original design in the late 1980s. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with Escanaba's central downtown district.

The historic House of Ludington, a landmark hotel in downtown Escanaba

The House of Ludington is a landmark historic hotel in downtown Escanaba. Originally built in 1865 as the Gaynor House Hotel, it was renamed in 1871 after prominent lumberman Nelson Ludington. It was rebuilt as a brick structure in the Queen Anne Style in 1883, becoming the New Ludington Hotel.

Until 2017, Escanaba continued to serve as an important shipping point for iron ore to other Great Lakes ports, especially south to Chicago and northern Indiana. The local paper mill, for many years owned by Mead Corporation's Publishing Paper Division, is currently operated by Verso Corporation. Located on the outskirts of the city alongside the Escanaba River, it is now the area's largest employer.

Bay de Noc Community College, a public 2-year college, was founded in the city in 1962.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.50 square miles (42.73 km2), of which 12.88 square miles (33.36 km2) is land and 3.62 square miles (9.38 km2) is water.[1] Escanaba is home to one the safest natural harbors in the upper Great Lakes, which makes it a natural destination for boaters.[8] Ludington Park, a three-quarter mile stretch of lake shore where the city's easternmost point extends into Little Bay de Noc, is one of the largest city parks in Michigan. Escanaba's Harbor Tower, an 18 story apartment building, is the tallest building in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.[9]


C&NW railway station in Escanaba, Michigan, 1953

Major highways[edit]

  • US 2 runs eastward to St. Ignace and the Mackinac Bridge, 143 miles (230 km) to the east. Along the way it passes through Gladstone, 9 miles (14 km) north/east and Manistique, 54 miles (87 km) east. It runs west concurrent with US 41 until Powers, and from there 21 miles (34 km) west to Iron Mountain.
  • US 41 connects with Marquette 66 miles (106 km) to the north and with Powers 24 miles (39 km) west before turning south to Menominee.
  • M-35 runs northwest 51 miles (82 km) through undeveloped areas to Gwinn. Going south, it provides a direct route along the shore of Green Bay to Menominee, 55 miles (89 km) to the southwest.
  • M-69 runs northwest toward many rural communities before ending at Crystal Falls.


Motor coach[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 3,026
1890 6,808 125.0%
1900 9,549 40.3%
1910 13,194 38.2%
1920 13,103 −0.7%
1930 14,524 10.8%
1940 14,830 2.1%
1950 15,170 2.3%
1960 15,391 1.5%
1970 15,368 −0.1%
1980 14,355 −6.6%
1990 13,659 −4.8%
2000 13,140 −3.8%
2010 12,616 −4.0%
Est. 2016 12,327 [3] −2.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[12]
City Hall and Library

Escanaba is located in Michigan Congressional District 1; its Representative since 2017 in Congress is Jack Bergman (R).

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 12,616 people, 5,622 households, and 3,090 families residing in the city. The population density was 979.5 inhabitants per square mile (378.2/km2). There were 6,178 housing units at an average density of 479.7 per square mile (185.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.5% White, 0.4% African American, 2.6% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.3% from other races, and 2.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.2% of the population.

There were 5,622 households of which 26.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.8% were married couples living together, 13.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 45.0% were non-families. 38.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.6% 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 2.82.

The median age in the city was 41.4 years. 21.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 22.6% were from 25 to 44; 26.4% were from 45 to 64; and 19.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.1% male and 52.9% female.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 13,140 people, 5,800 households, and 3,294 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,038.3 inhabitants per square mile (400.7/km²). There were 6,258 housing units at an average density of 494.5 per square mile (190.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.66% White, 0.11% African American, 2.61% Native American, 0.33% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.18% from other races, and 1.09% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.66% of the population. 17.0% were of German, 16.5% French, 11.4% French Canadian, 8.8% Swedish, 6.4% Irish and 5.2% English ancestry, according to Census 2000.

There were 5,800 households out of which 26.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.2% were married couples living together, 11.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.2% were non-families. 37.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.88.

In the city, the population was spread out with 22.5% under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 25.1% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 21.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 87.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $29,125, and the median income for a family was $36,995. Males had a median income of $32,310 versus $21,204 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,589. About 10.8% of families and 13.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.7% of those under age 18 and 9.0% of those age 65 or over.


Escanaba Middle School; the school board opted to completely renovate the historic 1930s downtown building instead of moving it outside of town.[13]

In his poem The Song of Hiawatha, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow described how Hiawatha "crossed the rushing Esconaba", referring to the river.

Although politically a part of the state of Michigan, Escanaba and the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan sometimes have closer cultural ties to the state of Wisconsin. Tourism has become significant for the local economy. Tourist draws include Lake Michigan beaches and local fishing and hunting opportunities. Most visitors come from Wisconsin and Illinois.

Escanaba is home to the William Bonifas Fine Arts Center, The Waterfront Art Festival,[14] The Escanaba City Band,[15] The Players de Noc, The Bay de Noc Choral Society[16] and many smaller arts organizations, art galleries and musical performing groups.[17]

Other attractions include the Cedar River Lighthouse, Delta County Historical Museum, Escanaba Family Fun Park, Herbal Acres, Sand Point Lighthouse, U.P. State Fair, U.P. Steam & Gas Engine Museum, Wells Sports Complex, and Ludington Park.[18]

In January 1968, Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi's daughter was married in Escanaba at St. Anne's Church. Upon learning that his then-unwed daughter was pregnant, Lombardi, who was vacationing in Florida at the time, insisted she drive to Michigan to get married rather than having her marriage in Green Bay, to prevent her news from being reported in the papers.[19]

Local radio stations include KMB Broadcasting's WDBC 680 AM (adult standards) and WYKX 104.7 FM (country music), Lakes Radio's WCHT 600 AM (news/talk), WGLQ 97.1 FM (adult top 40), WCMM 102.5 FM (country), and WGKL 105.5 FM (oldies), and standalone WUPF 107.3 FM (classic hits). Escanaba is also served by low-power translator stations of WNMU translator W296AX from Marquette, MI (at 96.5 FM), WPFF translator W254AG from Sturgeon Bay, WI (at 98.7 FM), and WHWL translator W261AI from Marquette, MI (at 100.1 FM). WJMN-TV, the local television station on channel 3, is mostly a satellite of WFRV in Green Bay and carries CBS programming. WLUC-TV in Marquette also operates a translator station in Escanaba on channel 14.


Escanaba has a mall called the Delta Plaza Mall, a small enclosed shopping mall which features ShopKo as its anchor store. The biggest retailer is Wal-Mart. The other major retailers in the city are Menards, Meijer, Walgreens, and Tractor Supply Company.

The downtown district features smaller retail stores, including T & T True Value Hardware and St. Vincent De Paul. Eateries include: Andy's Diner, Crispigna's, Drifters, Hong Kong Buffet, Family Inn, The Buck Inn, Hereford and Hops, Swedish Pantry, Rosy's Diner, Ferdinand's, Stone House, and the Ludington Grill. Bars and saloons include Catmando's, Ernie's Irish Pub, and Barons. Viau's Market and Kobosic's Market feature on-site butchers.


Escanaba Area Public Schools operates public schools.

Notable people[edit]



This climatic region is typified by 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, Escanaba has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfb" on climate maps.[21] Escanaba is described as being in the banana belt of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. While most of the peninsula is affected by significant lake-effect snow, Escanaba's winter climate is much milder due to its location on the leeward Lake Michigan shoreline.

Climate data for Escanaba, Michigan (1981–2010 normals, extremes 1948–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 55
Average high °F (°C) 26.4
Daily mean °F (°C) 16.2
Average low °F (°C) 6.0
Record low °F (°C) −28
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.06
Average snowfall inches (cm) 13.1
Trace 4.4
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.3 6.5 7.9 9.5 10.5 11.7 9.9 10.5 10.9 11.7 9.4 10.0 117.8
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 7.0 4.2 3.5 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 2.5 5.4 23.7
Source: NOAA[22][23]


  1. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2012-01-24. Retrieved 2012-11-25. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-25. 
  3. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. 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. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  7. ^ Tanner, Helen Hornbeck; Adele Hast; Jacqueline Peterson; Robert J. Surtees; Miklos Pinther (1987). Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 131, 144. ISBN 0-8061-2056-8. 
  8. ^ Escanaba Harbor Newsletter.
  9. ^ "Harbor Tower, Upper Peninsula's Tallest Building". Yooper Steez. 
  10. ^ "ST. IGNACE-SAULT STE. MARIE-IRONWOOD" (PDF). Indian Trails. January 15, 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-07-04. Retrieved 2013-02-28. 
  11. ^ "HANCOCK-MARQUETTE-GREEN BAY-MILWAUKEE" (PDF). Indian Trails. January 15, 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2013-02-28. 
  12. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  13. ^ Mac McClelland, "More for Your Money" Archived 2011-06-09 at the Wayback Machine., Michigan Land Use Institute, February 22, 2004, Accessed July 15, 2009.
  14. ^ "Waterfront Art Festival in Escanaba". 
  15. ^ "Escanaba City Band". 
  16. ^ Choral society gears up for annual Christmas concert (December 4, 2008) Daily Press.
  17. ^ Affiliate organizations, William Bonifas Fine Arts Center. Archived 2010-08-25 at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ Escanaba Things to Do at Archived 2011-02-01 at the Wayback Machine. Pure Michigan.
  19. ^ Maraniss, David (1999-10-07). When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi. Simon & Schuster. p. 430. ISBN 0-684-84418-4. 
  20. ^ Wisconsin Blue Book 1911, Biographical Sketch of Chauncey W. Yockey, pg. 771
  21. ^ "Escanaba, Michigan Köppen Climate Classification (Weatherbase)". Weatherbase. 
  22. ^ "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved July 29, 2016. 
  23. ^ "MI Escanaba". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved July 29, 2016. 

External links[edit]