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Alpena County, Michigan facts for kids

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Alpena County
Alpena County Courthouse
Alpena County Courthouse
Official seal of Alpena County
Map of Michigan highlighting Alpena County
Location within the U.S. state of Michigan
Map of the United States highlighting Michigan
Michigan's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Michigan
Founded February 7, 1857
Seat Alpena
Largest city Alpena
 • Total 1,695 sq mi (4,390 km2)
 • Land 572 sq mi (1,480 km2)
 • Water 1,123 sq mi (2,910 km2)  66%%
 • Total 28,907
 • Density 66/sq mi (25/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 1st

Alpena County is a county in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2020 Census, the population was 28,907. The county seat is Alpena. It is considered to be part of Northern Michigan.

Alpena County comprises the Alpena, MI Micropolitan Statistical Area.


1842 Okkuddo Cheonoquet Anamickee Shawwano Oscoda Negwegon counties Michigan
A detail from A New Map of Michigan with its Canals, Roads & Distances (1842) by Henry Schenck Tanner, showing Alpena County as Anamickee, the county's name from 1840 to 1843. Several nearby counties are also shown with names that would later be changed.

The county was created by the Michigan Legislature in 1840 as Anamickee County, then renamed in 1843 to Alpena County, a pseudo-Native American word — a neologism coined by Henry Schoolcraft, meaning "a good partridge country." This was part of a much larger effort to rename a great many of the Michigan counties at the time. It was officially organized in 1857.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,695 square miles (4,390 km2), of which 572 square miles (1,480 km2) is land and 1,123 square miles (2,910 km2) (66%) is water.

Alpena County is in the northeast of the mitten-shaped Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Lake Huron and Thunder Bay are to the east, Alcona County to the south, Oscoda County to the southwest, Montmorency County to the west, and Presque Isle County to the north. Most of the county is drained by the Thunder Bay River and its tributaries. The Mackinaw State Forest occupies large tracts of land in the county. The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is located offshore adjacent to the county.

The 45th parallel bisects the county, meaning it is halfway between the North Pole and the equator.

Several islands in Thunder Bay are part of the Michigan Islands National Wildlife Refuge. There are automated lighthouses on Middle Island and Thunder Bay Island.

Geographic features

Glaciers shaped the area, creating a unique regional ecosystem. A large portion of the area is so-called Grayling outwash plain, consisting of broad outwash plain including sandy ice-disintegration ridges; jack pine barrens, some white pine-red pine forest, and northern hardwood forests. Large lakes were created by glacial action. Some of the inland lakes are truly massive.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

National protected area


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 290
1870 2,756 850.3%
1880 8,789 218.9%
1890 15,581 77.3%
1900 18,254 17.2%
1910 19,965 9.4%
1920 17,869 −10.5%
1930 18,574 3.9%
1940 20,766 11.8%
1950 22,189 6.9%
1960 28,556 28.7%
1970 30,708 7.5%
1980 32,315 5.2%
1990 30,605 −5.3%
2000 31,314 2.3%
2010 29,598 −5.5%
2020 28,907 −2.3%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2018

The 2010 United States Census indicates Alpena County had a 2010 population of 29,598. This is a decrease of -1,716 people from the 2000 United States Census. Overall, the county had a -5.5% growth rate during this ten-year period. In 2010 there were 12,791 households and 8,164 families in the county. The population density was 51.8 per square mile (20.0 square kilometers). There were 16,053 housing units at an average density of 28.1 per square mile (10.8 square kilometers). 97.5% of the population were White, 0.5% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.3% Black or African American, 0.1% of some other race and 1.1% of two or more races. 1.0% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race). 26.8% were of German, 19.5% Polish, 12.9% French, French Canadian or Cajun, 8.1% English, 6.4% Irish and 5.7% American ancestry.

There were 12,791 households, out of which 25.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.0% were husband and wife families, 9.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 36.2% were non-families, and 30.8% were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.81.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 20.9% under age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 20.8% from 25 to 44, 31.5% from 45 to 64, and 19.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females there were 96.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.1 males.

The 2010 American Community Survey 3-year estimate indicates the median income for a household in the county was $36,242 and the median income for a family was $46,718. Males had a median income of $27,002 versus $15,670 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,713. About 2.5% of families and 16.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.2% of those under the age 18 and 10.0% of those age 65 or over.


Alpena County is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gaylord.


There are many recurring local activities.

  • Alpena Blues Festival, late June at The Alpena Fair Grounds and Merchant Building.
  • Alpena County Fair, Alpena County Fairgrounds.
  • Alpena Earth Day Celebration, April 22. Location in Alpena varies. Food, games.
  • Besser Museum Log Cabin Day, last Sunday in June. Approved by the Michigan legislature passed a bill to make Log Cabin Day an annual event to be held on the last Sunday in June. The Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan spotlights their own two log cabins on this day and celebrates by offering old fashioned, family activities.
  • Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival, second weekend in October.
  • Habitat for Humanity-Alpena Area "Drive to Build" Charity Golf Outing
  • Lafarge Downtown Alpena Riverfest, in mid-June. Family event centered on the Thunder Bay River, celebrating Alpena's lumbering history. Professional lumberjack shows, entertainment, music, storytelling, chainsaw carving, food, and games.
  • Michigan Brown Trout Festival, a week in mid-July.
  • Ramblin' Rods Car Show, second weekend in August at Mich-E-Kewis Park, Alpena.
  • Shelter, Inc. "Garden Walk", nine Gardens, all in Alpena, MI. 49707
  • Sunrise Side Heritage Bike Ride, Second weekend in September. Ride Along Lake Huron Shoreline (US - 23) to Mackinac Bridge then South to West Branch (M-33).
  • Thunder Bay Arts Council's "Art on the Bay" at beautiful Bay View Park in Alpena. A Juried Fine Arts and Fine Crafts Fair which coincides with The Michigan Brown Trout Festival. There are over one Hundred and Fifty Artist will fill more than 180 booths with their original artwork.
  • Thunder Bay Maritime Festival takes place at 500 W. Fletcher Street, Alpena, MI. 49707. It is presented by the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve.
  • Youth Sailing Instruction and Training is offered by the Alpena Yacht Club.

Arts and culture


Historical markers

There are seven recognized historical markers in the county:

  • Alpena County Courthouse
  • Alpena City Hall
  • The Daniel Carter Family
  • First Congregational Church [Alpena]
  • Monarch Mill
  • St. Bernard Catholic Church
  • World's Largest Cement Plant




Census-designated place

Other unincorporated communities


Images for kids

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