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Battle Creek, Michigan
City of Battle Creek
View of Downtown Battle Creek
View of Downtown Battle Creek
Flag of Battle Creek, Michigan
Official seal of Battle Creek, Michigan
"Cereal City"
Location of Battle Creek within Michigan
Location of Battle Creek within Michigan
Battle Creek, Michigan is located in the United States
Battle Creek, Michigan
Battle Creek, Michigan
Location in the United States
Country United States
State Michigan
County Calhoun
Settled 1831
Incorporation 1859
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Total 43.75 sq mi (113.32 km2)
 • Land 42.60 sq mi (110.35 km2)
 • Water 1.15 sq mi (2.97 km2)
840 ft (256 m)
 • Total 52,721
 • Density 1,228.6/sq mi (3,176.9/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP Codes
49014–49018, 49037
Area code 269
FIPS code 26-05920
GNIS feature ID 0620755

Battle Creek is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan, in northwest Calhoun County, at the confluence of the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek rivers. It is the principal city of the Battle Creek, Michigan Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which encompasses all of Calhoun County. As of the 2020 census, the city had a total population of 52,731. Nicknamed "Cereal City", it is best known as the home of the Kellogg Company and the founding city of Post Consumer Brands.

History and name origin

The Potawatomi and the Ottawa formed a joint village in the general area of Battle Creek, Michigan in about 1774.

Battle Creek was named for a skirmish between a federal government land survey party led by Colonel John Mullett and two Native Americans, likely Potawatomi people, who were historically prominent in this area since before European encounter.

According to various European-American accounts, while Mullett and his group were surveying an area several miles from the present city in the winter of 1823-1824, their camp was raided by Native Americans. Two members of the survey party who had remained at the camp were attacked by two Indians. The Indians were reported as trying to steal provisions from the survey team. They were likely hungry because annuities and supplies were late or insufficient; the Potawatomi had ceded their land to the United States by an 1820 treaty and been restricted to a reservation. The Army was notorious for failing to deliver supplies and annuities on a timely basis.

During the fight, the surveyors shot and severely wounded one Indian, subduing the other. Fearing more hostilities, the survey party promptly packed up and left the area. They did not return until June 1824, after Governor Lewis Cass had settled the issues with the Indians. European-American settlers later called the nearby stream Battle Creek River.

Native Americans had called the river Waupakisco, to which some attribute a folk etymology. By this account, the name Waupakisco or Waupokisco was a reference to an earlier battle fought between Native American tribes before the arrival of white settlers. However, Virgil J. Vogel establishes that this native term had "nothing to do with blood or battle".

Following removal of the Potawatomi to a reservation, the first permanent European-American settlements in Battle Creek Township began to be made about 1831. Migration had increased to Michigan from New York and New England following the completion of the Erie Canal in New York in 1824. Most settlers chose to locate on the Goguac prairie, which was fertile and easily cultivated. A post office was opened in Battle Creek in 1832 under Postmaster Pollodore Hudson. The first school was taught in a small log house about 1833 or 1834. Asa Langley built the first sawmill in 1837. A brick manufacturing plant, called the oldest enterprise in the township, was established in 1840 by Simon Carr, and operated until 1903. The township was established by act of the legislature in 1839.

In the antebellum era, the city was a major stop on the Underground Railroad, used by fugitive slaves to escape to freedom in Michigan and Canada. It was the chosen home of noted abolitionist Sojourner Truth after her escape from slavery.

Battle Creek figured prominently in the early history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It was the site of this Protestant church founding convention in 1863. Later the denomination's first hospital, college and publishing office were constructed in the city. When the hospital and publishing office were burned down in 1902, the church elected to decentralize, and most church institutions relocated. The first Adventist church (rebuilt in the 1920s) is still in operation today.

World Heavyweight Champion Jack Johnson was arrested here for marrying his White wife and transporting her across state lines.

The city was noted for its focus on health reform during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Battle Creek Sanitarium was founded by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. In addition to some of his sometimes bizarre treatments that were featured in the movie "The Return to Wellville", Kellogg also funded organizations that promoted Eugenics theories at the core of their philosophical agenda. The Better Race Institute was one of these organizations. He also supported the "Separate but Equal" philosophy and invited Mr. Booker T. Washington to speak at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in order to raise money. Mr. Washington was the author of the speech "The Atlanta Compromise", that solidified his position of being an accommodationist while providing a mechanism for southern Whites (and their sympathizers), to fund Washington's school (Tuskegee Institute).

W.K. Kellogg had worked for his brother in a variety of capacities at the B.C. Sanitarium. Tired of living in his brother's shadow, he struck out on his own going to the boom-towns surrounding the oilfields in Oklahoma as a broom salesman. Having failed, Kellogg returned to work as an assistant to his brother (John Harvey). While working at the sanitariums' laboratory, W.K. spilled liquefied corn meal on a heating device that cooked the product and rendered it to flakes. He tasted the flakes and added milk to them. He was able to get his brother to allow him to give some of the product to some of the patients at the sanitarium and the patients' demand for the product exceeded his expectations to the point of W.K made the decision to leave the sanitarium and along with some investors' built a factory to satisfy the demand for his 'corn flakes'. As W.K.'s wealth began to exceed his brother's, he funded some of his projects that were at the sanitarium. One of these projects was The Better Race Institute, a Eugenics-based organization. It was during this time that W.K. became a Mason. One of the tenets of the organization is that, "Masonry does not recognize color". As a result, W.K. Kellogg stopped funding his brother's projects and established equal pay policies in his company. In addition, He led desegregation efforts by allowing black kids to swim in his home pool and funded many school and philanthropic projects thru out the city and also founded Andrews University in Berrien Springs, MI It was during this time of going their separate ways for good that Dr. John Harvey Kellogg sued his brother for copyright infringement. The U.S. Supreme court ruled in W.K. Kellogg's favor.

Inspired by Kellogg's innovation, C. W. Post invented Grape-Nuts and founded his own cereal company in the town. Battle Creek has been nicknamed "The Cereal City."

In the turbulent 60's, Battle Creek was not immune to the racial issues of the day.

Dr. Martin Luther King spoke here, Sen. Hubert Humphrey, President L.B. Johnson, as well as Heavyweight Champion of the world Muhammad Ali. Blacks were subjected to 'stop and frisk' while walking, housing covenants were in full force. There no Blacks working in the school systems, and there were only a few Black mid-level managers in the local corporate sector. The Federal government sector was better at the Federal Center, and less better at the local Veterans' Administration Hospital. The Black Recondos, a group formed from the local young adult council of the NAACP forced the local board of education to hire Black teachers and administrative personnel under the threat of removing every Black student from their public schools. They also forced the chief of police to allow Black Recondos to intervene in arrests and gave them the authority to take Blacks into their custody instead of the local police. This caused the first and only strike of a police force in U.S. history. The officers were fired and the strike was ended.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 43.73 square miles (113.26 km2), of which 42.61 square miles (110.36 km2) is land and 1.12 square miles (2.90 km2) is water, making Battle Creek the third largest city in Michigan by area, and one of only three incorporated municipalities in the state over 40 sq mi (100 km2) in size.

  • Approximately 60% of the city's land is developed. Of the undeveloped land, 38% is zoned agricultural, 26% is zoned general industrial, 17.5% is zoned residential, 16% is the Fort Custer Army National Guard Base/Industrial Park, and 2.5% is zone commercial.
  • After Battle Creek Township merged into the city of Battle Creek in 1983, the city's declining population rose by nearly 18,000 new residents, but the city continues to decline in population. Prior to the merge, the city measured 18.6 square miles (48.17 km2).
  • Battle Creek is variously considered to be part of Western Michigan or Southern Michigan.


Climate data for Battle Creek, Michigan
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 68
Average high °F (°C) 31
Average low °F (°C) 17
Record low °F (°C) −19
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.1
Source: Weatherbase

Other municipalities in the Battle Creek area


Historical population
Census Pop.
1840 993
1850 1,064 7.2%
1860 3,509 229.8%
1870 5,838 66.4%
1880 7,063 21.0%
1890 13,197 86.8%
1900 18,563 40.7%
1910 25,267 36.1%
1920 36,164 43.1%
1930 45,573 26.0%
1940 43,453 −4.7%
1950 48,666 12.0%
1960 44,169 −9.2%
1970 38,931 −11.9%
1980 35,724 −8.2%
1990 53,540 49.9%
2000 53,364 −0.3%
2010 52,347 −1.9%
U.S. Decennial Census

In 1982, at the insistence of the Kellogg Company, the city annexed Battle Creek Township, nearly doubling the city's population. Kellogg's even went so far as to threaten to move their headquarters if the annexation failed to occur.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 52,347 people, 21,118 households, and 12,898 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,228.5 inhabitants per square mile (474.3/km2). There were 24,277 housing units at an average density of 569.7 per square mile (220.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 71.7% White, 18.2% African American, 0.7% Native American, 2.4% Asian, 2.7% from other races, and 4.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 6.7% of the population.

In the 21,118 households 33.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.1% were married couples living together, 18.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 38.9% were non-families. 32.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 3.04.

The median age in the city was 36.3 years. 26.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.9% were from 25 to 44; 25.5% were from 45 to 64; and 13.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.9% male and 52.1% female.

As of April 2013, Battle Creek has the fifth largest Japanese national population in the State of Michigan, 358 people.

2020 census

Nick Buckley wrote in the Battle Creek Enquirer: "The 2020 Census is critical for Battle Creek. Falling below the 50,000-resident threshold would mean a change from "urbanized area" to "urban cluster" and a loss of federal entitlement funding." Between the 2010 and 2020 censuses, Battle Creek's population grew from 52,347 to 52,731. There were 20,690 households and 2.40 residents per house, giving Battle Creek a population density (per square mile) of 1,228.6. 89.0% of those households had a computer and 82.8% had broadband internet connection. The city's racial makeup was 68.2% White, 17.3% African American, .6% Native American, 3.7% Asian, 8.1% from two or more races, and 7.9% Hispanic or Latino.

The median age in the city was 36.3 years. 7.0% of residents were under the age of 5; 25.8% were under 18; 15.2% were 65 and older. 51.5% of residents were female and 6.6% were foreign-born. 10.8% of people ages 5 and up speak at least one language other than English at home. Of persons 25 and up, 89.9% had a high school degree and 21.1% had a bachelor's degree or higher. Of those under 65, 11.2% had a disability and 6.1% lacked health insurance.

Median household income in 2020 dollars was $42,285, which works out to a $25,270 per capita income. 22.7% of the population lives in poverty. Median gross rent was $770 and the median value of the houses occupied by people who owned them was $91,700.


Print media

  • The local daily newspaper and newspaper of record is the Battle Creek Enquirer, owned and operated by Gannett Company.

Radio and television

Battle Creek is served by several radio and television stations, including:


  • WTOU (930 AM), the city's heritage radio station, now broadcasting a sports format.
  • WBCK (95.3 FM), a news/talk outlet
  • WBXX (104.9 FM), "104-9 The Edge", playing alternative rock
  • WBFN (1400 AM), featuring Christian programming and simulcasting WUFN-FM in nearby Albion
  • WNWN-FM (98.5 FM), playing country music, licensed to nearby Coldwater and based in Battle Creek
  • WFPM-LP (99.5 FM), a low power station featuring black gospel programming
  • WKFR (103.3 FM), a top 40 music station licensed to Battle Creek with studios in Kalamazoo


  • WOTV An ABC affiliate serving Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, and southwestern Michigan, and also serving as a secondary ABC affiliate for Grand Rapids
  • WZPX, an ION affiliate serving all of western Michigan
  • WWMT A CBS affiliate licensed to Kalamazoo and also serving, Battle Creek, Grand Rapids and western Michigan
  • AccessVision Public-access television on Comcast channel 16 & 17. AccessVision broadcasts to all municipalities within Battle Creek, and Newton Township.

WNWN-FM and WKFR are typically the top-rated radio stations in the market. The area can also receive radio and TV broadcasts from Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing and other nearby cities.


2010 World's Longest Breakfast Table
  • The World's Longest Breakfast Table
  • The Battle Creek Field of Flight Entertainment Festival is an air show and balloon event held yearly in Battle Creek.
  • International Festival of Lights


Battle Creek is home to The Music Center, which serves South Central Michigan.

The Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra is based at the W.K. Kellogg Auditorium in downtown Battle Creek. The symphony is conducted by Anne Harrigan. It is Michigan's longest-running symphony orchestra.

The Brass Band of Battle Creek is composed of 31 brass players and percussionists from around the United States and Europe. "Created in 1989 by brothers Jim and Bill Gray, podiatrists and amateur brass players from Battle Creek, MI, the BBBC has grown to cult status in Battle Creek, where BBBC concerts are regularly sold out and waiting lists are created weeks in advance."

Leilapalooza - The Leila Arboretum Music Festival is a free summer music festival held at the Leila Arboretum. Proceeds benefit the Leila Arboretum Society and Kingman Museum.


Battle Creek is host annually to the Michigan High School Athletic Association team wrestling, volleyball, baseball, and softball state championships. The town receives quarterly boosts to its economy from the fans that flock there to follow their teams.

Each year, Battle Creek hosts the Sandy Koufax 13S World Series, for 13-year-old baseball players.

In August, 2010, Battle Creek was host to the eighth edition of the International H.K.D Games.

Sports teams

Battle Creek
Downtown Battle Creek

The Battle Creek Bombers are a collegiate baseball team, a member of the Northwoods League, who began play in 2007. After a last place finish in 2010, the Bombers went 47-26 in 2011 and won their first NWL championship. It was the first championship in Battle Creek since 2000, when the Michigan Battle Cats won the Midwest League championship. The team's home is C.O. Brown Stadium. In 2011, the team signed a 5-year lease which guarantees the teams 10 year anniversary in Battle Creek in 2017. Actor Tyler Hoechlin, who starred alongside Tom Hanks in the critically acclaimed film "Road to Perdition", previously played for the Battle Creek Bombers.

Club Sport League Venue
Battle Creek Bombers Baseball Summer Collegiate Baseball, Northwoods League C. O. Brown Stadium
West Michigan Wolves Ice hockey North American 3 Hockey League Kellogg Arena

Former sports teams

The Michigan Battle Cats/Battle Creek Yankees/Southwest Michigan Devil Rays were a Class A minor league baseball team that played in the Midwest League from 1995 through 2006. The team's home was C.O. Brown Stadium.

The Battle Creek Crunch, were a member of the Great Lakes Indoor Football League (GLIFL), that began play in 2006. They played one season in Battle Creek before ceasing operations due to financial trouble. The team's home was Kellogg Arena.

The Battle Creek Belles, a member of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, played two seasons, 1951 and 1952, before relocating to Muskegon.

The Battle Creek Revolution are a member of the All American Hockey League and began play in 2008. The team's home is Revolution Arena.

The Battle Creek Blaze is a not-for-profit, adult football team that plays NFL rules football as a member of the IFL (Interstate Football League). The Blaze organization raises funds and community awareness in the fight against cancer. They are in their sixth season of operation, and won the IFL North Division Championship in 2010.

The Battle Creek Cereal Killers roller derby team began in 2011.

The Battle Creek Knights are a minor league basketball team. They were a charter member of the International Basketball League (IBL) and went 21-0 during the league's first season in 2005, winning the championship. The team's home is Kellogg Arena. After announcing in July 2009 that they would sit out the 2009 season, in October the team announced that they would return to play in the International Basketball League.

Points of interest

The Kellogg House (battlecreekcvb) 002
Kellogg House
  • Art Center of Battle Creek
  • Bailey Park & C.O. Brown Stadium
  • Battle Creek Sanitarium (now the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center)
  • Battle Creek Tabernacle (Seventh-day Adventist Church)
  • Binder Park Zoo
  • Fort Custer Recreation Area
  • Kimball House Museum
  • Historic Adventist Village
  • Kingman Museum and Planetarium
  • Leila Arboretum
  • Linear Park
  • Willard Beach and Park
  • Willard Library

Fort Custer Army National Guard Base

Founded in 1917, Camp Custer, as it was then known, would over the next decades serve as a training ground, from World War I until the present. Parts of the base were spun off and developed as the Battle Creek Veteran's Hospital, Fort Custer National Cemetery, Fort Custer Recreation Area and Fort Custer Industrial Park. This industrial park contains more than 90 different companies.

The United States Government still owns the land, under an arrangement by which the state of Michigan administers and manages the property. The base, which is still mostly undeveloped, wooded land, takes up a sizable portion of Battle Creek's land area. The part of the base in Battle Creek that is now the industrial park measures 4.69 square miles (12.15 km2) in area, which is approximately 10.6% of the city's area. A much larger part of the base lies in Kalamazoo County. The adjoining W.K. Kellogg Airport is a joint civilian-Air National Guard facility.


Battle Creek is situated on Interstate 94 (I-94) midway between Detroit and Chicago.

Railroad and bus lines

The Battle Creek Amtrak Station serves Amtrak trains on the south end of the station and Greyhound and Indian Trails bus lines on the north side of the station. The Canadian National Railway and Norfolk Southern Railway provide freight service to the city.

Public transportation

Battle Creek Transit provides public transit services to Battle Creek area residents. Regular route bus service is provided throughout the City of Battle Creek.

Major highways

  • I-94
  • BL I-94
  • I-194
  • M-37
  • M-66
  • M-89
  • M-96


Kalamazoo's Kalamazoo-Battle Creek International Airport serves Battle Creek. Locally, W. K. Kellogg Airport serves the general aviation needs of the community. The airport is also home to Western Michigan University's College of Aviation, Duncan Aviation, WACO Classic Aircraft Corp. a bi-plane manufacturer, and formerly, the Michigan Air National Guard's 110th Attack Wing, which flies the MQ-9 Reaper UAV.

Sister cities

Battle Creek has sister cities relationships with the following cities:

Battle Creek's official Sister City is Takasaki, Japan, a relationship that is more than 25 years old. Takasaki later established Sister City relationships with Santo Andre, Brazil; Chengde, China; Pilsen, Czech Republic and, in 2006, Muntinlupa City, the Philippines. These cities take turns hosting an environmental conference each year to allow technical and administrative staff to share ideas and projects for addressing environmental concerns.

Battle Creek and Takasaki also organize junior high and high school student and teacher exchanges each summer.


Largest employers

Kellogg World Headquarters (battlecreekcvb) 001
Battle Creek is known for the World Headquarters of the Kellogg's Company, best known for its Kellogg's Corn Flakes and Special K cereals.

According to the Battle Creek Unlimited October 2020 update, the thirty largest employers in the city are:

# Employer # of employees
1 Denso Manufacturing Michigan, Inc. 2,616
2 Kellogg Company (World Corporate Headquarters) 2,000
3 FireKeepers Casino Hotel 1,730
4 Battle Creek VA Medical Center 1,600
5 Hart, Dole, Inouye Federal Center 1,500
7 Bronson Healthcare Battle Creek 1,204
8 Battle Creek Public Schools 1,089
9 Fort Custer Training Center 825
10 II Stanley Company, Inc. 750
11 TRMI, Inc. (A subsidiary company of Tokai-Rika Co. LTD) 696
12 Michigan Air National Guard 650
13 Musashi Auto Parts Michigan, Inc. 649
14 Duncan Aviation, Inc. 637
15 Calhoun County, MI 622
16 Kellogg Community College 562
17 Post Consumer Brands (Post Foods) 562
18 City of Battle Creek 501
19 Lakeview School District 393
20 Adient (Johnson Controls) 383
21 Prairie Farms Dairy 311
22 Motus Integrated Technologies 300
23 Hi-Lex Corporation 279
24 Harper Creek Community Schools 262
25 Magna Cosma Castings 227
26 Graphic Packaging International 212
27 Systex Products Corporation 207
28 EPI Marketing Services 189
29 Advantage Sintered Metals, Inc. 127
30 Denso Manufacturing North Carolina, Inc. (DMNC) Michigan Plant 117
31 Nexthermal Corporation 97


Colleges and universities

  • Kellogg Community College, a two-year college founded in 1956
  • Robert B. Miller College, a four-year institution which shared KCC's facilities. The college closed in 2016.
  • Western Michigan University's Battle Creek Branch — The Kendall Center
  • Western Michigan University's College of Aviation, located at W.K. Kellogg Airport
  • Spring Arbor University Battle Creek Branch
  • Davenport University Battle Creek Campus. This campus of the college closed in 2015.
  • Central Michigan University, Battle Creek Campus on Air National Guard Base, W.K. Kellogg Airport

Public school districts

  • Battle Creek Public Schools
  • Harper Creek Community Schools
  • Lakeview School District
  • Pennfield School District

High schools (public)

  • Battle Creek Central High School
  • Harper Creek High School
  • Battle Creek Area Learning Center, better known as Calhoun Community High School
  • Lakeview High School, including Lakeview High School Library, a 2008 American Library Association award recipient
  • Michigan Youth Challenge Academy
  • Pennfield Senior High School

High schools (private)

  • Battle Creek Academy
  • Bedford Bible Church School
  • Calhoun Christian School
  • St. Philip Catholic Central High School

Secondary schools

  • Battle Creek Area Mathematics and Science Center, an accelerated secondary school that focuses primarily on STEM education
  • Calhoun Area Career Center, provides career and technical education to primarily 11th and 12th grade students

Foreign-language education

The Battle Creek Japanese School (バトルクリーク補習授業校 Batoru Kurīku Hoshū Jugyō Kō), a supplementary weekend Japanese school, holds its classes at the Lakeview School District building.

In 1980 the Western Michigan University Center for International Programs developed a program for Japanese expatriate K-12 students that was sponsored by Battle Creek Unlimited (BCU); the classes were held in the company facility at Fort Custer Industrial Park.

Notable people

See also People from Battle Creek, Michigan

  • Lepha Eliza Bailey (1845−1924) - author and lecturer
  • Frankie Ballard - country music singer
  • Lance Barber - television actor
  • Johnny Bristol - Motown singer, songwriter and producer
  • Nate Huffman - professional basketball player, 2001 Israeli Basketball Premier League MVP
  • Betty Hutton - film actress
  • John Harvey Kellogg - doctor and health food advocate
  • Will Keith Kellogg - cereal mogul
  • Tony McGee - National Football League lineman
  • Dick Martin - comedian and actor
  • S. Isadore Miner (1863–1916), American journalist, poet, teacher, feminist
  • Jason Newsted - Bassist, played for Metallica from 1986 to 2001
  • Lisa Rainsberger - Boston/Chicago Marathon winner.
  • Mike Reilly - former Major League Baseball umpire
  • Bob Rush - Major League Baseball pitcher
  • John Schwarz - Former United States House of Representatives
  • Emma L. Shaw, editor
  • Rick Snyder - former Governor of Michigan
  • Sojourner Truth - abolitionist and women's rights activist
  • Rob Van Dam - professional wrestler
  • Junior Walker - Motown saxophonist and singer
  • Tauren Wells - Grammy nominated Christian pop singer

Images for kids

See also

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