Otsego County, Michigan

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For the city in Allegan County, see Otsego, Michigan.
Otsego County, Michigan
Seal of Otsego County, Michigan
Map of Michigan highlighting Otsego County
Location in the U.S. state of Michigan
Map of the United States highlighting Michigan
Michigan's location in the U.S.
Founded 1875[1]
Seat Gaylord
Largest city Gaylord
 • Total 526 sq mi (1,362 km2)
 • Land 514 sq mi (1,331 km2)
 • Water 11 sq mi (28 km2), 2.1%
 • (2010) 24,164
 • Density 47/sq mi (18/km²)
Congressional district 1st
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website www.otsegocountymi.gov

Otsego County is a county located in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the population was 24,164.[2] The county seat is Gaylord.[3] The county was founded in 1840 and organized in 1875.[1]


Otsego may be a Native American name meaning "place of the rock". However, an alternative theory is that it derives from a lake and a county in New York state, which are said to bear the name derived from a Mohawk Iroquoian word meaning either "clear water" or "meeting place."[4] It may be a neologism coined by Henry Schoolcraft, who was a borrower of words and pieces of words from many languages (including Arabic, Greek, Latin, and various American Indian dialects).[5] See List of Michigan county name etymologies.


The county was initially created in 1840 as Okkuddo (meaning "sickly water," although the reason for using a name with such a negative meaning is lost). The name was changed to Otsego in 1843.[6] It was organized in 1875.<[1]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 526 square miles (1,360 km2), of which 515 square miles (1,330 km2) is land and 11 square miles (28 km2) (2.1%) is water.[7] It is the fifth-smallest county by total area in Michigan. The county is considered to be part of Northern Michigan.

Otsego County has more than 370 lakes. Most of the lakes are in the southern part of the county. Three miles south of Gaylord, Otsego Lake, is the county's largest, and has a surface area of 1,972 acres (7.98 km2). Other large lakes in the southern part of the county include Big Lake, Big Bear Lake, Buhl Lake, Crapo Lake, Dixon Lake, Douglas Lake, Guthrie Lake, Heart Lake, Lake Tecon, Manuka Lake, Opal Lake, Pencil Lake, and Turtle Lake. The larger lakes in the northern part of the county are Five Lakes, Hardwood Lake, Lake Twenty Seven, and Pickerel Lake. Many of these are so-called 'kettle lakes,' formed by the melting of blocks of glacial ice, left as the glacier retreated, which created a depression in the soil.[6]

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.[8]

Headwaters of the Au Sable, Black, Manistee, Pigeon, and Sturgeon Rivers are in Otsego County. The Au Sable River watershed is the largest watershed in the county. These watersheds drain large portions of the county, and are significant to the environment and a foundation of its habitat.[9]

Adjacent counties[edit]


Major highways[edit]

Other Routes[edit]

  • Old US 27 serves as a scenic alternative to I-75.[10]


Gaylord Regional Airport is owned and operated by Otsego County. It is located at 1100 Aero Drive, Gaylord, MI 49735. (989) 732-4218 Phone. 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.[11][12]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,974
1890 4,272 116.4%
1900 6,175 44.5%
1910 6,552 6.1%
1920 6,043 −7.8%
1930 5,554 −8.1%
1940 5,827 4.9%
1950 6,435 10.4%
1960 7,545 17.2%
1970 10,422 38.1%
1980 14,993 43.9%
1990 17,957 19.8%
2000 23,301 29.8%
2010 24,164 3.7%
Est. 2015 24,253 [13] 0.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[14]
1790-1960[15] 1900-1990[16]
1990-2000[17] 2010-2013[2]

As of the census[18] of 2000, there were 23,301 people, 8,995 households, and 6,539 families residing in the county. The population density was 45 people per square mile (17/km²). There were 13,375 housing units at an average density of 26 per square mile (10/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 97.51% White, 0.18% Black or African American, 0.62% Native American, 0.34% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.15% from other races, and 1.16% from two or more races. 0.75% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 22.1% were of German, 17.6% Polish, 10.5% Irish, 9.9% English and 9.4% American ancestry according to Census 2000. 96.8% spoke English and 1.3% Polish as their first language.

There were 8,995 households out of which 34.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.40% were married couples living together, 8.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.30% were non-families. 22.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.00.

In the county the population was spread out with 26.80% under the age of 18, 7.00% from 18 to 24, 28.50% from 25 to 44, 24.00% 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 98.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $40,876, and the median income for a family was $46,628. Males had a median income of $34,413 versus $21,204 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,810. About 5.30% of families and 6.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.50% of those under age 18 and 7.10% of those age 65 or over.


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.

Elected officials[edit]

(information as of September 2005)


The Gaylord Herald Times is the newspaper for the county It is published twice weekly, and is the oldest surviving business. It was founded in 1875, the same year as the county.[20]




Unincorporated communities[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Bibliography on Otsego County". Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University. Retrieved January 29, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ Otsego County history page.
  5. ^ Michigan government on place names in Michigan
  6. ^ a b Soil Survey of Otsego County, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Michigan State University Agricultural Extension Service
  7. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  8. ^ "NPWRC :: Regional Landscape". usgs.gov. 
  9. ^ Ibid.
  10. ^ Old US 27 history
  11. ^ Gaylord Airport, County page.
  12. ^ *Gaylord Regional Airport Information
  13. ^ "County Totals Dataset: Population, Population Change and Estimated Components of Population Change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016. 
  14. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  18. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  19. ^ "Election results". Traverse City Record-Eagle. August 4, 2004. Retrieved July 1, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Gaylord". Petoskey News-Review. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°01′N 84°37′W / 45.02°N 84.61°W / 45.02; -84.61