Gaylord, Michigan

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Gaylord, Michigan
The Alpine Village
Location within Otsego County
Location within Otsego County
Gaylord is located in Michigan
Location within the state of Michigan
Coordinates: 45°01′29″N 84°40′36″W / 45.02472°N 84.67667°W / 45.02472; -84.67667
CountryUnited States
 • TypeCouncil–manager
 • MayorBill Wishart[1]
 • Total5.00 sq mi (12.96 km2)
 • Land4.98 sq mi (12.89 km2)
 • Water0.03 sq mi (0.06 km2)
1,348 ft (411 m)
 • Total3,645
 • Estimate 
 • Density740.26/sq mi (285.81/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code(s)
49734, 49735
Area code(s)989
FIPS code26-31720[5]
GNIS feature ID0626696[6]
WebsiteOfficial website

Gaylord is a city in and the county seat of Otsego County, Michigan, United States.[7] The population was 3,645 at the 2010 census. The city is also the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gaylord, the smallest settlement by far serving as the location of an active Roman Catholic cathedral in the United States.

Gaylord styles itself as an "alpine village"[8] and the city center features many buildings with Tyrolean traverse style motifs. Receiving abundant snowfall and experiencing mild summer temperatures, the area around Gaylord has long been known for its many skiing and golf resorts, one of the largest such concentrations in the Midwest.


Originally called Barnes, Gaylord was named for an attorney employed with the Michigan Central Railroad. The town of Gaylord was established when the Jackson, Lansing and Saginaw Railroad pushed north from Otsego Lake Village in 1873. All of the property north of Main Street was owned by the railroad. Orlando M. Barnes owned all of the property to the south. Interestingly, Main Street was the borderline for two townships. This put the northern half of the new community in Livingston Township and the southern portion in Bagley Township.

The year the “Village of Gaylord” was officially platted (1874), it also was granted a post office of the same name. So, if the community was truly ever named Barnes, the name change would have occurred between November, 1873 and October, 1874. Note: Today the term "village" has a legal definition for a specific form of local government. Technically, Gaylord didn’t become a village until 1881. The person for whom the town was re-named, Augustine Smith Gaylord, was an attorney associated with the Michigan Central Railroad. His law firm was located in Saginaw. Mr. Gaylord never lived in his namesake town, but he did own property in Hayes Township. His distinguished career included serving as a school teacher, church choir director, county clerk, and member of the State Legislature. In 1875, Mr. Gaylord was appointed to serve as an attorney for the United States Department of the Interior. At the request of President Grant, Mr. Gaylord was assigned to negotiate a treaty with Native Americans in Montana and the Dakotas. It is believed this trip may have been too strenuous for Mr. Gaylord’s pre-existing health conditions. Declining health prevented him from returning to Washington, D.C. Mr. Gaylord died at his home in Saginaw in 1877 at the age of 46. That same year, Gaylord became the county seat – the location of government and judicial transactions. Prior to 1877, Otsego Lake Village had been designated the temporary county seat. Gaylord’s central location in the county, along with its growing business community, prompted the change.

In 1905, a marketing campaign was undertaken to attract outside business investors and new residents to locate in Gaylord. A 38-page photo booklet entitled “Gaylord Illustrated” was published to showcase the many benefits of living in the town located on the 45th parallel in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Among the many photographs featured in the booklet were the Otsego County Courthouse and the Dayton Last Block Works. The Dayton Last Block Works was located south and west of downtown Gaylord between the Michigan Central Railroad and U.S. 27. It was bordered on the south by Wisconsin Avenue, and to the north by Third Street. The 14-acre industrial site included 27 buildings, and the owners claimed it to be the largest factory of its kind in world. The company, headquartered in Dayton Ohio, operated its Gaylord branch from 1895 to 1931. Otsego County hardwoods were used to produce wooden shoe forms, bowling pins, and golf club heads. One of the original brick buildings stands still today on South Otsego Avenue as the Bavarian Office complex.

A second railroad, the Boyne City, Gaylord and Alpena (BC,G&A), reached Gaylord in 1906. This provided east-west rail travel and transportation. The tracks entered Gaylord from Hallock from a northeasterly direction. The BC,G&A shared the Michigan Central Railroad depot on Michigan Avenue. Heading east, the tracks paralleled Fourth Street and headed toward the town of Sparr.

Another important manufacturing venture in Gaylord’s past was the Gaylord Motor Car Company. Formed in 1910 by local investors who had dreams of becoming the next Detroit, the company offered four innovative styles designed to compete with other auto makers. Approximately 350 cars were produced before the company went bankrupt in 1913. Only one Gaylord Car exists today: It is on display at the Visitors Center in downtown Gaylord.

Gaylord became a city in 1922. The change from village to city required a vote by town residents. For reasons that are unclear, the margin of passage was a very close 21 votes — 114 people in favor to 93 against. John Hamilton was elected the first mayor of Gaylord. Over the years, the community continued to grow, in part, because of its location. Gaylord’s Main Street was the intersection of U.S. 27 and M-32. These major roads brought both through-traffic and destination travel to Gaylord. Gas stations, restaurants, and lodging establishments sprung up to accommodate local shoppers as well as visitors enjoying the area’s attractions. Long before Gaylord was the Alpine Village or the Golf Mecca, it promoted itself as the Top of Michigan and, later, the ski capital of Michigan. Both of these marketing endeavors were based on the area's natural features and reflected the importance of tourism as an economic development strategy. With an altitude of 1,394 feet above sea level, Gaylord held the distinction of being the city of highest elevation in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. The abundant winter snowfall and steep hills nearby made downhill skiing a logical focus for efforts to attract recreational visitors to the area.

Gaylord may have begun as a railroad town, but it quickly capitalized on its strategic location, abundant natural resources, and steady influx of new residents. These industrious and forward-thinking people provided the leadership and dedication that helped to create Gaylord’s successful future.



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, Gaylord has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfb" on climate maps.[12]

Climate data for Gaylord
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 25.5
Daily mean °F (°C) 18.2
Average low °F (°C) 10.9
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.68
Average snowfall inches (cm) 37.3
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 16.1 11.6 10.3 9.2 9.5 8.8 8.5 9.4 10.7 12.5 13.3 16.2 136.1
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 15.8 11.5 7.2 3.1 0.2 0 0 0 0 1.6 7.2 14.4 61
Source: NOAA [13]


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)3,685[4]1.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[14]

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 3,645 people, 1,610 households, and 826 families residing in the city. The population density was 759.4 inhabitants per square mile (293.2/km2). There were 1,847 housing units at an average density of 384.8 per square mile (148.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.8% White, 0.9% African American, 0.8% Native American, 1.0% Asian, 0.2% from other races, and 2.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.8% of the population.

There were 1,610 households, of which 27.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.7% were married couples living together, 13.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 48.7% were non-families. 42.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 19.1% 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 2.95.

The median age in the city was 39.3 years. 22.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 10.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.2% were from 25 to 44; 23.2% were from 45 to 64; and 20% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 45.9% male and 54.1% female.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 3,681 people, 1,584 households, and 888 families residing in the city. The population density was 932.8 per square mile (359.8/km2). There were 1,773 housing units at an average density of 449.3 per square mile (173.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 96.50% White, 0.30% African American, 0.95% Native American, 0.30% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 0.33% from other races, and 1.55% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.71% of the population.

There were 1,584 households, out of which 29.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.8% were married couples living together, 13.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.9% were non-families. 38.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 19.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 24.9% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 26.6% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 20.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 79.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 76.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,770, and the median income for a family was $36,654. Males had a median income of $33,264 versus $19,815 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,313. About 8.8% of families and 9.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.8% of those under age 18 and 13.6% of those age 65 or over.


  • I-75 passes to the west of the city and connects with the Mackinac Bridge to the north and Saginaw and Detroit to the south
  • BL I-75 is a loop route running through Gaylord. It follows the former route of US 27, in part, and was commissioned in 1986. The highway returns to I-75.[15]
  • M-32 passes east–west through the city. Although it is not a true 'cross-peninsular' highway—crosses the lower peninsula from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron—it is close.[16]
  • C-42 terminates at M-32 west of the city. It originates at US 131 in Alba.
  • F-42 begins at BL I-75 (Old US 27) south of the city and proceeds easterly to M-32 southeast of Gaylord.
  • F-44 begins at M-32 east of the city and continues easterly through Sparr to F-01.
  • Old 27 is the former route of US 27 and is a major north–south local route through the city and the rest of Otsego County.[17]
  • Gaylord Regional Airport is located at 1100 Aero Drive, Gaylord, MI 49735. (989) 732-4218 Phone. It is owned and operated by the County of Otsego. The Airport is licensed by the Michigan Aeronautics Commission as a General Utility Airport. It is listed as a tier one airport in all categories of the Michigan Airport System Plan.[18][19]
  • Indian Trails provides daily intercity bus service between St. Ignace and East Lansing, Michigan.[20]


Due to the distance from Lake Michigan and the elevation, snowfall is greatly increased and is often referred to as Lake Effect Snow. The affected area is known as the snow belt and has prodigious snowfall. Combined with local Terrain and Topography many Winter Recreation opportunities abound.

An annual event in July, Alpenfest, encourages participants to dress in traditional Swiss fashions. This event brings in numerous people from all around and provides a vast array of activities. Some of these activities include carnival rides and games, music, shops, and a local 'Queen's Pageant'. A parade takes place on the final day.

Twin town[edit]

Gaylord is twinned with the Swiss town of Pontresina.[24]


  • Local newspaper Gaylord Herald Times serves the area.[25]
  • Regionally available is the Weekly Choice Publication.
  • WMJZ, "Eagle" 101.5 FM, features a classic hits format and is the primary local (Gaylord/Otsego County-focused) commercial radio station.
  • Also licensed to Gaylord are WBLW 88.1 FM of Grace Baptist Church and WPHN 90.5 FM (The Promise FM), which both feature non-commercial Christian religious programming. Also, Charlevoix-based Catholic radio station WTCK operates a translator in Gaylord at 92.1 FM.
  • WSRT 106.7 FM, a talk radio station (formerly WKPK "The Peak," a locally legendary top 40 station) which, although licensed to Gaylord, is based in Traverse City.
  • WQON, Q100.3, The Only Place for Rock & Roll and play-by-play for Detroit Lions Football and University of Michigan Football/Basketball.[26]
  • WGRY AM/FM, Y101.1/AM1230, YOUR Sports Talk in Northern Michigan, CBS Sports Talk and home of Detroit Tiger Baseball, Detroit Red Wing Hockey, and Detroit Pistons Basketball.[27]

Gaylord is also served by radio and TV broadcasts from Traverse City, Petoskey, Charlevoix, Cadillac, Grayling, Houghton Lake, Cheboygan, and Alpena.

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ "City Government". City of Gaylord Michigan. Retrieved 2021-06-28.
  2. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  4. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  6. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  7. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on January 12, 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  10. ^ Gaylord signs denoting the 45th Parallel.
  11. ^ "45th Parallel North America".
  12. ^ "Gaylord, Michigan Köppen Climate Classification (Weatherbase)". Weatherbase.
  13. ^ "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  14. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  15. ^ Christopher J. Bessert. "Michigan Highways: Business Connections 32 through 94".
  16. ^ Christopher J. Bessert. "Michigan Highways: Route Listings: Routes 30-39".
  17. ^ Old US 27 history Archived 2008-02-22 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Gaylord Airport, County page. Archived 2008-02-19 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ *Gaylord Regional Airport Information
  20. ^ "EAST LANSING-PETOSKEY-ST. IGNACE" (PDF). Indian Trails. January 15, 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-06-29. Retrieved 2013-02-27.
  21. ^ "North Central State Trail". Michigan Trails, Traillink. 2015. Retrieved 2015-08-07.
  22. ^ Rankings of best cross country skiing in Michigan. Archived 2008-04-04 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Rankings and Discussion of Forbush corners Archived 2005-05-07 at the Wayback Machine Forbush Corners website
  24. ^ "Gaylord's Alpine Theme". Gaylord official website. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  25. ^ "Gaylord". Petoskey News-Review.
  26. ^ Owned and Operated locally by Blarney Stone Broadcasting, Inc. Streaming live @ / Free Smart Phone App: Search WQON
  27. ^ Owned and Operated by Blarney Stone Broadcasting.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°01′39″N 84°40′29″W / 45.02750°N 84.67472°W / 45.02750; -84.67472