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Grand Traverse County, Michigan facts for kids

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Grand Traverse County
Grand Traverse County Courthouse in Traverse City
Grand Traverse County Courthouse in Traverse City
Flag of Grand Traverse County
Official logo of Grand Traverse County
Map of Michigan highlighting Grand Traverse 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 1851
Named for Grand Traverse Bay
Seat Traverse City
Largest city Traverse City
 • Total 601 sq mi (1,560 km2)
 • Land 464 sq mi (1,200 km2)
 • Water 137 sq mi (350 km2)  23%%
 • Estimate 
 • Density 198/sq mi (76/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 1st

Grand Traverse County is located in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2020 census, the population was 95,238. The county seat is Traverse City.

According to the United States Census Bureau, during the 2020 census the population of Grand Traverse County was 95,238.

Grand Traverse County is part of the Traverse City, MI, Micropolitan Statistical Area, which also includes Benzie, Kalkaska, and Leelanau counties.

Interlochen, home of the Interlochen Center for the Arts, is located in Green Lake Township.

Grand Traverse County was originally known as Omeena County.


In 1840 it was separated and originally named Omeena County. Grand Traverse County was organized by an act of the state legislature on April 7, 1851. Grand Traverse is derived from a French phrase meaning "long crossing" and the county is so named because it is situated at the Grand Traverse Bay. The first permanent settlement in the county was the mission now known as Old Mission.

Historical markers

There are twelve recognized Michigan historical markers in the county: They are:


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 601 square miles (1,560 km2), of which 464 square miles (1,200 km2) is land and 137 square miles (350 km2) (23%) is water. Grand Traverse County is considered to be part of Northern Michigan.

Adjacent counties


  • Arbutus Lake
  • Bass Lake
  • Cedar Hedge Lake
  • Christmas Tree Lake
  • Coffield Lake
  • Duck Lake (Wahbekaness)
  • Dyer Lake
  • Elk Lake (Largest in more than one county including Grand Traverse)
  • Ellis Lake
  • Fife Lake
  • Fish Lake
  • Green Lake (Wahbekanetta)
  • High Lake
  • Huellmantel Lake
  • Long Lake (Largest in County)
  • Lost Lake
  • Mirror Lake
  • Mud Lake
  • Muncie Lake
  • Pickerel Lake
  • Rennie Lake
  • Rush Pond
  • Silver Lake (Deepest in County)
  • Spider lake
  • Lake Skegemog
  • Strombolis Lake
  • Truax Lake
  • Twin Lake
  • Vandervoight Lake


  • Acme Creek
  • Angell Creek
  • Beitner Creek
  • Campbell Creek
  • Cedar Run
  • Coleys Creek
  • Desmond Creek
  • Fife Outlet
  • Fourmile Creek
  • Gens Creek
  • Harris Creek
  • Headquarters Creek
  • Kids Creek
  • Kingsley Creek
  • Mitchell Creek
  • Neal Creek
  • Orchard Valley Creek
  • Rudhardt Creek
  • Swainston Creek
  • Vanderali (West) Creek
  • Vanderlip (East) Creek
  • Williamsburg Creek
  • Woodland Creek
  • Yuba Creek


  • Betsie River
  • Boardman River (North and South branches)
  • Little Betsie River
  • Platte River
  • South Skegemog River


Air travel

Grand Traverse County is served by Cherry Capital Airport, which is located near Traverse City. It serves the 21-county Northern Michigan area, and has destinations around the country. Other airparks in the county include:

  • Acme Skyport
  • Green Lake Airport
  • Tramps Aerodrome
  • Yuba Airport

Other than Cherry Capital Airport, all other airports in the county are unpaved

Formerly, there was an airport on the south side of Traverse City called Ransom Field. This was located on Rennie Hill. This airport closed sometime in the 1930s.

Grand Traverse County, Mich
Map of Grand Traverse County's highways

Major highways

The county contains about 103 miles (166 km), about 1.07% of the Michigan State Trunkline Highway System. These highways include the ones listed below.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 1,286
1870 4,443 245.5%
1880 8,422 89.6%
1890 13,355 58.6%
1900 20,479 53.3%
1910 23,784 16.1%
1920 19,518 −17.9%
1930 20,011 2.5%
1940 23,390 16.9%
1950 28,598 22.3%
1960 33,490 17.1%
1970 39,175 17.0%
1980 54,899 40.1%
1990 64,273 17.1%
2000 77,654 20.8%
2010 86,986 12.0%
2020 95,238 9.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2018

As of the census of 2000, there were 77,654 people, 30,396 households, and 20,730 families residing in the county. The population density was 167 inhabitants per square mile (64/km2). There were 34,842 housing units at an average density of 75 per square mile (29/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 96.51% White, 0.40% Black or African American, 0.93% Native American, 0.49% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.54% from other races, and 1.09% from two or more races. 1.49% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 25.1% were of German, 11.3% English, 10.7% Irish, 8.4% American and 7.4% Polish ancestry, 96.4% spoke English and 1.6% Spanish as their first language.

There were 30,396 households, out of which 32.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.70% were married couples living together, 9.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.80% were non-families. 25.00% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.00% 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 2.99.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 25.40% under the age of 18, 7.90% from 18 to 24, 29.70% from 25 to 44, 24.00% from 45 to 64, and 13.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $43,169, and the median income for a family was $51,211. Males had a median income of $34,796 versus $24,139 for females. The per capita income for the county was $22,111. About 3.80% of families and 5.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.30% of those under age 18 and 5.90% of those age 65 or over.


Grand Traverse County is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gaylord.




Census-designated places

Other unincorporated places

Ghost towns

  • Angell
  • Bates
  • Garfield
  • Grawn
  • Hardwood Acres
  • Hodge
  • Mayfield
  • Mitchell
  • Neahtawanta
  • Old Mission Point
  • Schell
  • Tunk
  • Westminster
  • Wylie

Charter townships



According to the Grand Traverse Economic Development Corporation, the largest employers in Grand Traverse County, as of 2017, are:

# Employer Full-time
1 Munson Healthcare 3,100
2 Traverse City Area Public Schools 1,800
3 Northwestern Michigan College 750
4 Grand Traverse Resort and Spa 550
5 Hagerty Insurance Agency 500
6 Grand Traverse County 500
7 Interlochen Center for the Arts 475
8 Grand Traverse Pavilions 415
9 Britten Banners 380
10 Tyson Foods 300


Grand Traverse County has many schools. TCAPS is by far the largest school district in the area, with its headquarters in Traverse City. All of its schools are located within the county, although some of the district itself extends into nearby Benzie and Leelanau counties. Other districts in the county are Forest Area, GTA, Benzie Central, and Elk Rapids school districts. There are independent Catholic schools in the county as well.

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