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Coldwater, Michigan
Downtown Historic District
Downtown Historic District
Location of Coldwater within Branch County, Michigan
Location of Coldwater within Branch County, Michigan
Country  United States
State  Michigan
County Branch
Founded 1861
 • Total 9.99 sq mi (25.87 km2)
 • Land 9.65 sq mi (25.00 km2)
 • Water 0.34 sq mi (0.88 km2)
965 ft (294 m)
 • Total 10,945
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,265.67/sq mi (488.69/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 517 Exchanges: 278,279
FIPS code 26-17020
GNIS feature ID 0623568

Coldwater is a city in Coldwater Township, Branch County, Michigan, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 10,945. It is the county seat of Branch County, located in the center of the southern border of Michigan.


The area of Coldwater was originally inhabited by the Potawatomi at the time of European encounter. French Canadians and British had trading relationships with the Native Americans for years before settlement by European Americans.

Settlers did not move into the area until around 1830, with many arriving from New York and New England, the northern tier of states. Coldwater was incorporated as a village in 1837, and then incorporated by the legislature as a city in 1861. It was designated in 1842 as the county seat of Branch County.


The Coldwater River flows into the city from the south, originating from Coldwater Lake. The Coldwater chain of lakes also has an outlet called the Sauk River, which flows from its north end (near Quincy) and then through the south side of the city of Coldwater. Both combine to form a series of shallow, connected lakes on the city's west side.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.27 square miles (21.42 km2), of which 8.03 square miles (20.80 km2) is land and 0.24 square miles (0.62 km2) is water.


National Weather Service records show that average January temperatures are a maximum of 28.9 °F and a minimum of 14.3 °F. Average July temperatures are a maximum of 81.4 °F and a minimum of 59.9 °F. There are an average of 8.5 days with highs of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher and an average of 145.2 days with lows of 32 °F (0 °C) or lower. The record high temperature of 115 °F was on July 12, 2011, and the record low temperature was -23 °F on January 4, 1981.

Precipitation averages 35.66 inches annually. There is measurable precipitation on an average of 142.1 days. The wettest year was 1905 with 46.12 inches and the dryest year was 1930 with 18.01 inches. The most precipitation in one month was 10.90 in May 1989. The most precipitation in 24 hours was 5.37 inches on June 26, 1978.

Snowfall averages 54.5 inches annually. There is measurable snowfall on an average of 34.6 days. The snowiest season was 1977-78 when 84.8 inches fell, including 50.7 inches in January 1978. A blizzard that month included 17.0 inches of snow on January 26, 1978.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 4,381
1880 4,681 6.8%
1890 5,247 12.1%
1900 6,216 18.5%
1910 5,945 −4.4%
1920 6,114 2.8%
1930 6,735 10.2%
1940 7,343 9.0%
1950 8,594 17.0%
1960 8,880 3.3%
1970 9,155 3.1%
1980 9,461 3.3%
1990 9,607 1.5%
2000 12,697 32.2%
2010 10,945 −13.8%
2020 13,822 26.3%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 10,945 people, 4,255 households, and 2,628 families living in the city. The population density was 1,363.0 inhabitants per square mile (526.3/km2). There were 4,827 housing units at an average density of 601.1 per square mile (232.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 92.5% White, 0.6% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 3.2% from other races, and 2.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.6% of the population.

There were 4,255 households, of which 34.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.9% were married couples living together, 15.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 38.2% were non-families. 32.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.14.

The median age in the city was 35.2 years. 27.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.3% were from 25 to 44; 23.4% were from 45 to 64; and 15% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.8% male and 52.2% female.

Arts and culture

Annual cultural events

Several seasonal annual festivals are held in Coldwater. The Ice Festival held in January features ice carvings, a chili-tasting competition, and other family activities. The Strawberry fest held in June features many different foods made from strawberries and arts and crafts. The Apple Fest held in September features home-baked goods made from apples and various arts and crafts.


The Tibbits Opera House in Coldwater was built in 1882; it is the second-oldest theater in Michigan. It was converted to a movie theater in the 1930s. In the 1960s a campaign began to restore its original use as a theater for live performances with the eventual goal of restoring its French Empire architecture. It is now a venue for a variety of cultural activities.

The Wing House was built in 1875; it is now operated as a historical museum by the Branch County Historical Society. The Little River Railroad offers rides behind a 1911-built steam locomotive, departing from the city's historic depot.




Memorial Airport serves general aviation only.

Major highways

  • I-69. Coldwater is accessible from exits 10 (BL I-69, Fenn Road), 13 (US 12/BL I-69), and 16 (Jonesville Road). The city has expanded since 1967 when I-69 was completed in the area to incorporate the urban sprawl at exit 13.
  • BL I-69 runs through downtown Coldwater.
  • US 12 continues west to Sturgis and east toward the Hillsdale area.
  • M-86 runs west to Three Rivers.

Mass transit

Coldwater public bus transportation is provided by Branch Area Transit Authority (BATA).


Coldwater has an east-west railroad, but this is essentially a relic of one that led to Chicago and Detroit.

Sister cities


Waterworks Park in Coldwater, Michigan
  • Coldwater Community Schools, public school district for Coldwater
  • Pansophia Academy, charter school, grades K-12
  • St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School, grades K-5
  • Legg Middle School, grades 6-8. Part of Coldwater Community Schools.
  • Branch Area Career Center, vocational training to high school students
  • Coldwater High School, grades 9-12. Part of Coldwater Community Schools.

Aside from the usual public and parochial schools, Coldwater has a branch of Kellogg Community College and Baker College.

Notable people

  • Scott Brayton, Indycar driver
  • Enoch Chase, Wisconsin State Senator
  • George Coe, 11th Lieutenant Governor of Michigan
  • Jim Curtiss, professional baseball player
  • Edward Ellis, actor
  • Samuel Etheridge, one of Michigan's first state senators, representing the Seventh Senatorial District from 1838-1840
  • Jad Fair and David Fair, musicians; founders of the band Half Japanese
  • Maude Farris-Luse (1887-2002), supercentenarian
  • Alice Haylett, AAGPBL All-Star pitcher
  • Bertha Lincoln Heustis, writer, born in Coldwater
  • Jeff Kellogg, former MLB umpire
  • Becky Levi, mixed martial artist
  • Cyrus G. Luce, Michigan governor
  • Ruth McDevitt, actress
  • Alfred Milnes, mayor of Coldwater and 28th Lieutenant Governor of Michigan
  • Clara D. Pierson, children's book author
  • Harriet Quimby, aviation pioneer, the first US woman to receive a pilot's license
  • Dan Severn, mixed martial artist and professional wrestler
  • Jeff Stanton, motorcycle racer
  • Bill Welke, current MLB umpire
  • Tim Welke, former MLB umpire
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